A Fleecy, Wine Filled Hockey Hug of Love

9:07am: It’s hockey day. It’s back. Finally. Grab my phone and text half the people in my contacts wishing them the best day. It’s like Christmas, only better. The whole I-didn’t-know-this-day-would-come thing really spices up the Christmasish anticipation. It’s like a secret ingredient, like adding butter to tomato sauce- that je ne sais quoi of Gary-related loathing and the horrocious hockey purgatory we’ve all been drowning in that makes this day all the more excellent.

9:30am: Flip to TSN (I’m obviously still in bed. Beds are warm). All-star curling skins game draft. I saw this in SportsCentre with Toolsie and Andre the other day, but it was approximately 6 seconds worth of coverage. Watch the first round. John Morris is a handsome man. Glenn Howard is a total silver fox (my other notable old man crushes include Anderson Cooper and Garth Brooks.) Eventually, I haul myself out of bed and get dressed. Outfit selection is especially crucial today, since I have a whole day of hard work sports watching. Lulu Wunder Unders are obviously the only choice for pants- a fuzzy hoodie, wool socks, mocs, a scarf, and the highly attractive top knot (boys love when you do your hair without looking in the mirror). Go time.

9:58am: Couch. TV to TSN. Curling skins starts now. Stoughton vs. Koe. I think about how much I love Russ Howard’s voice when he calls curling. He is the only person who really ever should be calling curling. Realize it sounds like I’m stalking the Howard family. I’m not, I swear. Wait- is Glenn’s son single?

10:07am: Nourishing breakfast of mommy-made granola. Also, green tea. Because no meal is a meal without tea. It’s a rule of life. Follow it.

 10:30am: Think about how I enjoy the sponsors for curling in such a substantial way. Pinty’s, Carlton Cards, Aspirin, Chartered Accountants, and Casino Rama- wait, is this sport marketed exclusively to older Canadians? Unclear.

11:38am: I love curling. Lots. Especially curler Twitter banter. Which obviously takes place between ends. It is solid gold. And 20 minutes until hockey. This day, this day, THIS DAY.

11:40am: Imagine if NHL players worked on their snappy between-period Twitter repartee. Nail Yakupov, I pick you to lead this. Consider it the next installment of your Twitter clinic. The possibilities for mid-game smiley faces are really endless.

11:59am: IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE. RON MACLEAN. I SEE YOU (I love your tie. Actually). I missed you, Ron. I missed you and your Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) amigos so much that I might find it in my heart to forgive you for starting this broadcast with the Kings winning the cup and following it up with extensive clips starring Gary. See, I’ve forgiven you already. The past is behind us and we are building new bridges (or whatever. Rainbows and smiles).

12:05pm: I forgot about the Hotstove. PJ Stock, Glenn Healy, Kevin Weekes, Elliotte Freidman- I missed you guys too. Even though I’m confused by Glenn’s metallic tie, I’m still happy to see you.

12:09pm: Frantically flipping back between TSN, CBC, and NBC. Carry over skin in 7, Stoughton with hammer. BUT. Opening face-off of the NHL season. Missing that is not an option. BUT. I’m not enthralled by watching the Kings celly with Stanley (this ring distributing business is lengthy). I mean, they won and all, but knowing that a) this should have happened in October, b) Gary is in the building somewhere, and c) Dustin Penner and his pancake-related injury decided to go and win a cup after he left Edmonton, makes it borderline intolerable. This situation is so problematic.

12:23pm: Another carryover in curling. A huge $14000 8th end. Anthem in Kings/Blackhawks. Player intros in Jets/Sens. This requires all my life-balancing skills. It’s a feat in channel flipping. I can’t cope.

12:29pm: GAME TIME. Quick gloves the puck at 19:46. Thank you Jonathan. I needed this moment to regain control of my heart rate/life.

12:32pm: I love ‘Oh Canada’. And I never get to hear it when hockey disappears. I’m almost in tear shedding territory. Almost. I would be if Paul Lorieau was belting it out. And the Oilers were playing.

12:38pm: Post in Jets/Sens game. Blackhawks score (Patrick Kane would score the first goal of the season. He just would. Also, can we discuss how he was Chara/Tootoo-like steamrolled by a linesman today? Like, really). Skip stones in curling. I’m pacing my apartment.

12:42pm: Koe wins. No more curling until 5pm. I’m soothing myself with Nutella. Out of the jar with a spoon. And chasing bites of Nutella with raspberries because I’m having pizza for dinner. That’s how calories work- they cancel out. I’m not cut out for this channel flipping business. I’m committing to CBC. As I’m pondering how Gary managed to make one correct decision by giving Jet’s fans a home opener on the first day of the season, Byfuglien unleashes a wicked top shelf clapper. The hockey gods (who in my head look a lot like Statler and Waldorf) are at their best today. Gold star hockey gods, gold star.

1:04pm: Do Americans know about Lanny McDonald moustache jokes? I crack a beer because if CBC is making Lanny jokes, it must be happy hour somewhere.

1:07pm: I need to just absorb this game. Can’t form words. Just hockey.

2:19pm: My NBC feed just switched to the Pens/Flyers. Pierre McGuire is doing color commentary. Just when I thought this day could not get any better. I want to know what this man eats for breakfast- it must be something loaded with sugar, eagerness, and awkwardness. Probably Lucky Charms.

3:06pm: First set of games wraps. Crack a beer (Phillips Analogue), because now is definitely a socially appropriate time for a beverage. While the Jets/Sens game fell off the rails halfway through the third, Scheiffele was stellar- the whole combo of skill, grit, and post-world-junior-redemption determination that he is rocking right now is major. Not that I could ever forget how talented Sidney Crosby is, but man, even when Philly glues themselves to him, he is huge up the middle (get your mind out of the gutter).  And even though the Kings forgot how to play hockey, I’m pretty sure Drew Doughty never left the ice. He was everywhere. Doing everything (except winning. Details).

3:13pm: Start doing school-related reading. Deleuze & Guattari. Philosophy and hockey go together. But, like lemon and pizza. They’re ‘it’s complicated’ on Facebook.

3:24pm: I love that hockey rants are eating Twitter up right now. It almost makes me as happy as actually seeing the puck hit the ice. It means fans are back. All my hockey soul sisters (and brothers. Can you have soul brothers?) are still around and we still adore bashing the Canucks/Penguins/Leafs. It’s a big, loving hug of hockey rivalry-related trash talk. It’s perfect.

3:30pm: Hockey Tonight still has a minor hockey team introduce their intro. And the same song- It’s Hockey Tonight.  I have a full minute of silence appreciating how comforting this is. It makes me full loser smile. Then I get all mushy and hockey affectionate. Crack another beer, because it’s Leafs/Canadiens. That’s 3 hours of the Leafs. I’ll need all the strength I can get to tackle this- steely, anger management Nicole, here we come.

3:43pm: Go to Carey Price’s Twitter to see if it says anything about his status for tonight. Or if I can sneakily read between the lines and find out. We need to acknowledge that his description says “part time hockey player, full time redneck”. I’d like to grab a beer (pitchers of beer) with Carey Price.

3:55pm: I love that there is free Coors at Montreal games. Some things were just invented to go together. Beaches and Zac Brown Band. Hall and Eberle. Tea and mugs. Sunburns and aloe. Double Dion and Pierre McGuire. Taylor Swift and spontaneous dance parties. Hockey and beer. They need to be together. Always. It’s not optional. Semi related: Irving just tried to tell me he doesn’t drink. This is a lie. He just only drinks pink alcohol or blueberry vodka. It’s his own issue that he chooses not to enjoy these beverages with hockey.

4:04pm: Dear whoever the CBC’s editors/montage team are- you are brilliant. All of HNIC’s intros tonight have been just beyond. So many vintage clips. Dougie Gilmour smooching Don Cherry must be one of the best HNIC moments. Ever. Ever. And world, I’m also thinking we need a montage of all Ron MacLean’s uncomfortable silences when Don has gone off on an obscure rant (there have only been a few. Right?). This is crucial. Let’s take Don’s rant on soccer, Avery, and Ovechkin to assess Ron’s awkward level (#samechurchdifferentpew?). He was like an 8 then. Only 7s or higher. Go.

5:00pm: Bad news bears on your defense there, Montreal. Kadri had approximately 8 years to get a shot off. It’s a touch glaringly obvious who has and who has not played during the lockout. It’s a ultra slow, jittery, and trappy. They’ll get there.

5:07pm: Coach’s Corner. Yes please. The fact that it is sponsored by beer is not lost on me. Especially when curling has started again- sponsored by Aspirin, frozen chicken wings, greeting cards, and a casino. I debate what watching both sports says about me. It’s not great. But very Canadian. I am stunned with how much I agree with Don today. Nonis seems ideal for Toronto. And his take on the lockout isn’t unreasonable- the owners really didn’t give up oodles. I wonder what Don Cherry did all lockout. He’s wearing a very modest blazer today, so obviously it was something tame(ish).

5:18pm: Back to this flipping business. Howard vs. Martin on TSN. Grab some essential multitasking supplies (beer and bottle opener) to prepare. Also, order Panago. One of my New Years resolutions is to only order pizza once a month (I have a paper writing and pizza eating issue. As in, I can’t do one without the other. It’s problematic), so I’ve been saving January’s pizza for today. Pizza is the loveable third wheel in the beer and hockey relationship.

5:31pm: Who moves the puck up ice this season? An organized breakout? Overrated. It’s way more fun to hack at it and hope it bounces over someone’s stick.

5:35pm: Come on Plekanec. Don’t even. I thought we grew out of snowing the goalie when we were in Atom.

5:40pm: Still reading. Kind of. I’m holding my book. It’s open?

6:02pm: Pizza. Yes. Sweet, sweet pizza (cheese and mushroom on multigrain hand tossed, chipotle dip). Open a bottle of wine. Wine helps to reduce cholesterol. Cheese has cholesterol. Like I said before, healthy. Always.

6:23pm: I wonder if Irving has ever watched a curling game?

6:41pm: Hockey is so real right now. This is happening.

6:50pm: You know what would make this game even better? If someone (anyone) could hold the blue-line  Just once. That’s all I’m asking for. Again, it’s pretty clear players are a smidge rusty. Except Scrivens- that trapper is on fire tonight. But I accept this slow pace. I embrace Montreal and Toronto for what they are- rebuilding. We’ve been there. Edmonton is on its way out of that dark, dank, tear filled, hockey heartbreaking dungeon of rebuilding. So I empathize with Leafs and Habs fans. But that doesn’t make their hockey any less ugly. Just more earnest. In this case, it’s not the effort that counts, but I applaud your efforts anyways.

6:57pm: Lots of rocks in play. Howard leading Martin. I always appreciate the brain power it takes to curl, and Howard and Martin have no rivals. This is exciting. You have to trust me.

7:03pm: Pregame for Canucks/Ducks. Debate once again WHY Gary thought “Oh hey, lets have 4 Canadian teams play each other on opening day, but instead of having an all Canadian triple header, let’s have the late HNIC game be between the Canucks and a team with an itsy bitsy fan base”. WHY? There are 26 teams in action- lets have 50% of the teams not in action be Canadian teams with massive, beyond loyal fans. Totally. Please explain this to me, world. WHY does Edmonton play Vancouver tomorrow instead of tonight? Remember when you apologized to me Gary? We are over. This is exhausting.

7:17pm: I’m not a Canucks fan. I’m not a Sedin fan. But having Henrik address fans from center ice? Classy, Canucks. Classy. Some brilliant PR folks work for the Canucks- Kesler working the checkout at Save-On or pouring steeped tea at Tim Hortons? Fantastic. It’s no spontaneous outdoor shinny game, but it is pretty humble, honest, and intelligent. Applause.

7:19pm: ‘Oh Canada’ is still fantastic.

7:38pm: Fairly certain Hamhuis stiffed that shot with the very butt of his blade. Knucklepuck for the tying tally.

7:41pm: Tie in curling. TIE. Draw to the button for the W and the finals. Howard is throwing first. Pour a new glass of wine for this. Howard 4 cm from the pin. Can we discuss that? This is why curling is a sport. You read the ice and throw a rock 4 cm from where you are aiming. Go. Do it. Dare you. Howard wins, Martin’s rock gives up at the four foot.

7:57pm: The work on the boards in the Van/Anaheim game is how hockey should be played.  The cycle the Canucks work is the stuff of drills when it works. Unrelated: Getzlaf is a strong human. Very.

8:25pm: So. Many. Other. Storylines. Jordan Staal’s Canes family affair. Huberdeau snipes in his first game. Suter and Parise try to justify gigantic contracts. Phoenix tries to remain? be(come)? relevant. Preds/Blue Jackets shootout (I’m aware this borders on ‘nobody’s watching’ territory. It still counts). Nathan Horton is back. Thanks for coming out, Detroit. (14 shots? Honestly?). Schneider pulled, Luongo in. Milos advances to round of 16. This day is beyond. Notice how I didn’t mention Lance. I’m over that. Hockey is back. I have priorities.

8:27pm: I haven’t turned a page in at least half an hour. Re-cap my highlighters, put away my Sharpies, stow my post it note collection, pour more wine, and turn the TV up.

9:35pm: 7-3? What. Canucks? Pardon?

9:50pm: Selanne is still speedy. Scary bananas. He never ages. And Saku Koivu. What? When did he become huge again? BUT. Thank you for today, world. Tomorrow will be excellent too. And the tomorrow after that (well, Tuesday).

10:01pm: I love you, hockey. Lots.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Irving Chong

At the end of each piece Nicole and I will have comments/observations/come backs towards each other’s posts.  The majority of which will be snark.

Horrocious is a combination of horrible and atrocious, Nicole and our mutual friend Anna invented it during a camping trip.

Nicole’s outfit choice for the day:  “a fuzzy hoodie, wool socks, mocs, a scarf, and the highly attractive top knot” is how she gets all the boys.  Fact.  I tweeted her this picture a couple days ago and she lost her mind.

To answer Nicole’s question if ads during curling are geared towards older Canadians, the answer is yes.  No research was put into this answer only my gut feeling.

Please be advised Nicole calling out Penner for no apparent reason other than he exists is one of the many unprovoked shots she will be taking.  I’m surprised no shots were taken at Dion.  Trust me, they are coming.

When Nicole says that spontaneous dance parties go perfect with Taylor Swift she means three week relationships.

I have no defense for my drinks of choice, I do not casually drink, so no beers during games for me.  Also, have you had blueberry vodka?  It’s delicious and makes your breath smell like blueberries, there is not downside.  I do however approve of wine with meals.

Nicole wonders if I have ever watched a curling game, I have seen bits and pieces during the Winter Olympics, so no.

Having all Canadian teams play on opening night would make too much sense, in related news I would like to thank David Stern for sending Gary Bettman to the NHL.  I would say more about this topic but Saturday, January 19th was her day, and I know she enjoyed it as well as the rest of our country.  “Oh Canada” it is good to have you back indeed.

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends.

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