5 Reasons I Love Hockey

Being one of the younger folks here on PPP (18 years old, natch), I really don't have distinct memories of the good 'ol days of hockey. The days of the Broad Street Bullies, Darryl Sittler, and the Habs' dynasties, and whatever. But that doesn't mean I have some fond memories of hockey, and why I love it.

If you will, 5 reasons why I am a proud hockey fan.

1. Patriotism

People say that hockey is Canada's game, and that we Canadians are a passionate bunch. I think there's no better example than the Vancouver Olympic Games that just passed. Just getting caught up in a see of red-and-white and Canadian flags and choruses of "O Canada" when Sidney Crosby scored the Golden Goal is something I'll never forget. As is the complete, and utter disappointment I had in '06 when our boys failed to win gold. That loss stung. Nevertheless, I'm a proud Canadian, and hockey has allowed me to embrace my national pride.

2. Heroes

When I first heard of hockey, I immediately embraced Wayne Gretzky as my hero (yeah, I know.) But once I became a Leafs fan in '98, The Great One was soon replaced by one Mats Sundin. I don't know why I took on No.13 as my hero, but once I did, I was glad I ever did. And because of that, I enjoyed every moment of success that Sundin had as a Maple Leaf, from the tying goal against Carolina in '02, to No. 500 against Calgary, he was and will always be my hero. But that fact doesn't stop me from finding a new fan favorite. More recently, Luke Schenn has immediately become my favorite Leaf today. Whether it's his hard-hitting style of play, or the fact that I'm only two years younger than the guy, or even his distinctive and noble character, Schenn has really appealed to me.

3. NHL Video Games

Upon arriving in Canada in '97, I had gone to an arcade and I immediately laid my eyes on the Midway arcade game "NHL Open Ice 2-on-2 Challenge". The graphics were impressive and the gameplay was addictive. (BTW, I always picked the Boston Bruins. Cam Neely FTW.) Although I've never gotten a chance to play that game again, I've played lots of other hockey video games, especially the EA Sports NHL games. I've always loved creating myself and inserting myself in the game, and with the advent of "Create-A-Team" in the recent EA games, I've let my creativity soar and created numerous teams, from old favorites (Winnipeg Jets) to all-star mishmashes (Team Canada!).

4. Ambitions

Recently, I got a chance to sit down and watch "Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story". I enjoyed it thoroughly, and seeing young Don's NHL dreams reminded me of my own dreams of NHL glory from watching the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada, TSN, or what have you. I knew I had no chance in hell of ever making it into the NHL, but that didn't stop me from imagining myself winning the Stanley Cup as a kid.

5. The Leafs!

As bad as they've been at times, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been always my favorite team. The rich history and passionate fan support for the Leafs impresses me. I've gotten the 'ol "ZOMG LAFFS SUX!" IRL from idiotic twits in my high school, and I quickly and immediately ignored their whining, and defended my beloved Leafs team. Times may be dire now for the Blue & White, but I know, with Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Jonas Gustavsson, & Luke Schenn leading the way, Lord Stanley's Mug will be back and that parade the trolls have been harping about can actually happen, and I'll be the first to laugh at their faces.


Canada 8, Norway 0

Canada's olympic hockey team kicked off the hockey portion of the 2010 Olympics with a bang. In the opening game for Team Canada, they completely dominated Norway 8-0 in a result that really shouldn't surprise anyone.

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla had a hat-trick, while Dany Heatley added two for the Canadians. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, & Mike Richards had the other Canadian goals. In net, Roberto Luongo had a relatively easy night in net, stopping 15 Norwegian shots.

It's a roaring start for Canada, who look to avenge an embarrasing 7th place finish at Torino in 2006. After a scoreless first period, which saw Norway goalie Pal Grotnes stopping all 14 Canadian shots in the first, the Canucks opened the floodgates, starting with Iginla's power-play marker.

In Leafs-related business, Team USA, coached by Toronto bench boss Ron Wilson won its opening game, a 3-1 victory over Switzerland.

And in other Canadian gold-medal news, Canadian snowboarder Maelle Ricker won gold today in snowboard cross, earning this country's second gold medal in these Olympic games.


Leafs Picture Comics #30: A Crazy Return

After a long hiatus, Leafs Picture Comics are back!

Paybacks are quite the bitch, eh, Philly?


A Perfect World

In a perfect world, any notions of the Leafs being a horrible team would be non-existant. We'd be a damn good team and in playoff contention. Fans would lay in confidence on Leaf staff and applaud them. Young fans wouldn't have to rely on video games for relief in times of dire despair for their heroes.

If life were fair, then Luke Schenn would be the captain of the future for the Maple Leafs. He wouldn't be hampered by a sophomore slump and have almost half of Leaf Nation turn on him. The dream rookie season would've been replicated to exact detail, and a young Prairie boy's realizations of NHL fame would be made true.

If life were fair, Phil Kessel would've been a scoring machine for Toronto. No slump would've put a stop to his scoring assault on the NHL, and all the critics would've been silenced, and a team's draft day hopes would've been crushed.

If life were fair, then Ron Wilson would've been saluteed as a genius. His coaching prowess would've helped the penalty kill and power play succeed tremendously. Rather, he's become the lynchpin of an entire fanbase, the supposed cause of the Leafs' current perilous predicament.

And, if life were truly fair, then the dreams of Lord Stanley's Mug would be well within the grasp of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their chance to end a 42-year long drought would've been right now, and a chance to bring hope back to a beleaguered city would be welcomed.

However, life doesn't always bow to a utopia. And with the clock quickly ticking, will there be any hope left for the Leafs? Will playoffs become an afterthought? Will the Bruins' draft picks end up as gems or busts? Is the hope gone?