What Joy Looks Like
you know those old Peppermint Patty commercials where the sugar-starved protagonist eats the little chocolate covered disc and is immediately transported from wherever they are to the top of a wintry mountain scene that cools their brain? that's what recalling the game Monday night is like for me, except instead of a puck of chemically-created mint mush covered in waxy chocolate, it's a hockey puck that makes me feel like that. 4 hockey pucks to be exact - the two goals scored by Aaron Ward and Frank The Tank, the empty netter by Justin Williams that blew the roof off the place with a few seconds to go (people weeping, embracing total strangers, i lost my rally towel to the rafters), and the stop Cam Ward made on Pisani with 4 minutes to go. the 'Canes came out and literally knocked the Oil on their ass from minute one, they blocked shots (revealed later that Kevyn Adams broke his wrist in two places blocking a shot by Pronger in the 1st), the forecheck was relentless and they hit and hit again, sitting down Torres, Pisani, Pronger, it was a thing of beauty after the nightmare that was Game 6. the 'Canes were again the team that finished the reg. season with 112 points, dispatched every favored opponent in the post-season, and their reward was the freaking Stanley Cup. sometimes when i'm replaying the game in my brain i have to make sure it all really went down like that... Red and Black Hockey has a lo-fi video clip that comes close as it can to conveying the pandemonium at the end of the game.
i haven't even considered trying to post about Game 7 until now because every time i think about it just want to think about it, not try to write about it. the surreal combination of exhilaration, relief, joy is hard to describe (though folks are doing a good job over here and here, though most including CasonBlog have already doggedly moved on to the draft - this saturday - and offseason moves)...it was the best and most intense thing i've ever seen in sports, and that includes college basketball nailbiters, world series games, this was just something different. i've been trying to figure out what makes it so different, better even than what i thought was the best thing in sports (NCAA college b-ball); i mean, my general feeling about professional sports over the years, which has only become more entrenched and cynical even as i continue to watch baseball and of course hockey, is that these guys are mercenaries. but it's impossible to come away with that feeling after following a team like these Hurricanes through the grind of a season and a post-season that's a third as long as the regular...maybe it's because no one playing hockey grows up thinking they're going to be a superstar like Kobe Bryant; it's just not a dream that's there in hockey. maybe it's because they still often come from small towns, mostly in Canada, not a nation known for it's ego or, um, swagger... maybe it's because the sport itself is humbing and brutal, i don't know, but i never thought that a professional sporting event or team could inspire such a powerful emotional response or attachment... i still can't explain it.
(*note: i have of course been reduced to hurling obscenities at the teevee during a yankees or knicks game, and rooted hard for anyone playing against the Lakers or Michael Jordan, but this different)
anyway, Rod Brind'Amour's violently joyous hoisting of the cup was something no one there will forget, and it amazes me that this is the least popular professional spectator sport in the country. can't explain that either though "ESPN" and "OLN" are a couple reasons i suppose... i'm not promising this is the last post on the 'Canes this year, as i could be walking on fluffly RBC-Center-shaped clouds for awhile now, and in fact what on earth will i write about other than this anyway? but i'm sure i'll move on to more, what's it called, music-y things soon enough.