The Hottest Sport on Ice

The Hottest Sport on Ice

When I say I like ice hockey, a) it’s an understatement because in fact I’m passionate about it, and b) people look at me in perplexity. “You like ice hockey?” they ask. “Why?

 

 

Three reasons: speed, focus, and intensity, the same things I like about romance.

Hockey pucks sail through the air at 100 miles per hour. Players fly down the ice at 30 miles per hour. Think of what cars look like in collision tests when they hit a wall at 15 miles per hour. Now imagine a human body hitting the boards of a skating rink at that speed. And then getting up and taking off at the same velocity all over again. It’s a game that stops only for commercial breaks (and the players complain about those!) and an occasional video review of a goal. Timeouts are taken rarely and then only at the very end of the game when one team is desperate to beat the other. It’s grueling and utterly breathtaking.

 
 

That’s Martin Brodeur, one of the sport’s great goalies. He’s got three strapping hockey players piling on top of him but what’s he focused on? Stopping that puck. Nothing distracts him from that task. The same is true of three forwards ripping down the ice with the sole purpose of scoring on that goalie. With the puck and players moving at lightning speed, focus is critical, not just for success but for survival.

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

“Do or die.” That’s the tag line for the Stanley Cup playoffs, hockey’s Holy Grail. The players believe it. I watched in awed disbelief as Devils’ defensive center John Madden stopped a puck with his face (to keep the opposition from scoring), skated to the bench leaving a trail of red splatters behind him, stuffed some Kleenex up his still-bleeding nose and flew back out on the ice for the next shift. He ended up with numerous stitches, a black eye and who knows what other damage but he wasn’t going to sit out a minute of the game. Is he insane? Probably. Is he intense? Unquestionably.

This is a team sport. No superstar, not even the Great Wayne Gretzky, single-handedly carries a hockey team to victory. The lines rotate in and out constantly so the players sitting on the bench are just as involved in the game as the guys out on the ice. Because they’re not just benchwarmers; they know they’ll be out there in the next six or seven minutes and they need to jump in seamlessly. Their attention never wavers.

And isn’t this what great romance is all about? Two people focused on each other with an intensity that won’t let them think of anything else and a passion which draws them together instantaneously and inexorably.

So when people ask me why I like ice hockey, I say, “Because I write romance.”

Of course, that makes them look even more perplexed.

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One response to “The Hottest Sport on Ice

  1. Laura Mason Zeisler

    I love this piece! I can’t say I’m much of a hockey fan, but I love how you write about it.

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