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Ever since 19 June, I've been feeling way different regarding my outlook toward teams that I "traditionally" hate/loathe/despise/whatever. It's strange and wonderful at the same time. Is this what it feels like when your team finally gets over? It's like...I dunno what it's like. Like people can say whatever they want about my team or me or my town or my fellow fans, and I don't care as much as I used to. Go ahead and bash my team, I've got better things to do with my time than to get upset about it--like helping to show the newbie Caniacs the wonder and love that is hockey. I feel like I can get on with that personal task, now that I no longer have to break off time to fight other battles. I want everyone to experience hockey, to come to know and love it as I do, to know the truth in the old Fred Shero quote:
We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death. Life is just a place where we spend time between games.
I touched on it a little bit more here
, in the hockey blog. It was a little rambly, but it's the summation of the feelings I had all through that playoff run--all the anger and the fear and the sadness and finally the joy and relief.
I think that, on some level, I've achieved satori
--that amazing state of epiphanic enlightenment where your eyes are suddenly opened and you "get it". I may not go to games, but I treasure each game I go to for what it is--a touch of spiritual fulfillment, a golden opportunity to spend time with the Gods while watching the Einheriar duke it out on Iðavöllr. The NHL can "sanitize" it all they want, they can turn it into something where fighting becomes a Flowery War
that protects miscreants rather than the rough Tyrian justice that it always was and should be, but they can't take away the fact that hockey is the last sport where man truly touches the divine and learns something about himself in the process. Other sports come close, but hockey....there's something about the inherent danger in those sharp blades and the sticks and everything that raises it to another level.
When I see Rod Brind'amour camp his orcish ass in front of the net with his stick at the ready, he's more than "just a player". He's a warrior lying in ambush. Put a sword in his hands and swap mail for the pads, and you've got a man girded for some old-skool warfare. Man is closest to the realm of the divine when he's balanced on two very sharp blades of steel and fighting for a little hunk of rubber--all my years of hockey-watching have convinced me of it. Danger awakens in us the very real possibility that we can die, and episodes like Clint Malarchuk's throat being cut open by a skate-blade and Jiri Fischer almost dying on the bench remind us of that. From that possibility arises the desire to become closer to something greater than ourselves. Few hockey players are atheists--in some way, they all believe in something because they've touched that something on a nightly basis.
It's the most terrifying and perfectly liberating feeling one can have. It really is.