I Suck at Being Canadian Week One: I Should Have Watched Two Good Teams Play

The last time I watched a full hockey game was in 2010, and it was the gold medal game.  What better way to kick off my first hockey games in two years than with a live diary of the first period.  I am streaming the game on CBC.  My phone is plugged in for a direct link to Nicole for all my hockey questions.  Let us begin at the end of Hockey Tonight.  Quick note, the times posted are in real time because the introductions was thirty minutes long, if David Stern was in charge of the NHL that would have been a huge fine.

3:59: Confession, I have never watched this pre-game show before.  Apparently this is a big deal because everyone has a story about watching this show.  I have memories with Chuck, Kenny, and Ernie.

4:04: The intro montage to this game is intense.  5 months of pent up, “I need hockey,” flying out right now.  I don’t know the majority of these moments and I’m getting pumped up.

4:05: Nicole has just informed me that this is HNIC’s 60th season, and it’s the longest running sports show ever so I should expect every montage to be as dramatic.  I was not aware HNIC was this old.  Is this a bad thing?  Will I be deported if I admit this?

4:08: We have a George Stroumboulopoulos spotting.  In related news: I have seen more episodes of The Hour than NHL games.

4:11: Wait, NHL teams introduce every player?  Doesn’t each team have like 20 players?

4:16: I want to see some awkward teammate handshakes.  I doubt this will happen.

4:17: What happens if they drop the torch?  Are you benched?  Would Montreal riot?  What if they fall down coming out of the tunnel?  What are the Maple Leafs doing while this is going on?  So many questions.

4:18: Nicole tells me that Galchenyuk is Montreal’s prize rookie and he basically won the World Juniors by himself.  I assume he’s the blonde who got the biggest pop from the crowd.

4:19: Too bad the NBA didn’t do this.  If a player showed up unmotivated and out of shape they could boo him for five to ten seconds.

4:20: Seeing this team without their helmets, it makes me want to make the assumption that hockey players either are complete baby faces who look like they are 15 or look like they are 40 with no in between.

4:22: So does every Montreal player learn French?  Is this mandatory?  Do they get translators if they don’t want to?  Do they get traded if they don’t want to speak French to the French media?

4:26: Nicole informs me that Montreal players are encouraged to learn French.  I ask her about PK Subban’s contract situation.  She says that PK is nowhere near close to signing a contract.  The Lakers should sign him; they need a spark to save their season.  He could be this year’s Jeremy Lin.

4:28: And the game has started.  I still do not know who the commentators are.

4:29: So a goal was waved off because Ryan White attacked Toronto’s goalie with his butt, this could only happen in the NHL.  In football this is what happens.

4:31: Nicole tells me that it sounds like the two commentators tonight are Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson.  Why don’t they introduce themselves?  Or have a graphic?  Not all of us have seen all 60 seasons of HNIC.  Why should I have to ask my hockey Yoda to learn about these things?

4:33: One reason I may have never gravitated towards hockey, it’s so frantic and has quite a relentless pace.  Thinking back I have to ask what was wrong with me as a kid.  Those are the things which are geared towards kids.

4:35: Last year when the NBA lockout ended and opened on Christmas Day, it felt like an event.  With opening night today with the NHL lockout it does not feel any different, guess having the Winter Classic as the season opener makes too much sense.  Or maybe this is how ingrained hockey is in Canada; it just fits like piece to a puzzle.  Or maybe the NBA means the world to me while the NHL doesn’t.

4:39: And PK Subban is in a commercial for Hyundai during the game.  Awkward.  Nicole corrects my assumption.  The PK commercial has been running on TSN for the past year.  This is the first time I have seen it.  I know the Blake Griffin commercials.  I swear I am Canadian.

4:42: We just got our first quick close up of a goalie.  I feel like goalie masks are to the NHL what tattoos are to the NBA.  Which raises the question how come the rest of the players don’t add designs to their helmets?  Then I remember they’re hockey players and couldn’t care less about that stuff.

4:45: And we have our first replay of a stop by Carey Price, which reinforces the fact that goalies are crazy motherfuckers.  Nicole tells me that it is a well-known fact goalies are the weirdo on every team.  It’s a rule: goalies are nuts.

4:46: I ask Nicole if hockey has advanced stats like DVOA, PER, QBR, and WAR.  She told me she did not know what any of those things are and answered with a resounding “No” about hockey.  This fact makes it easier to get into hockey but at the same time half way through this first period it seems this sport is tremendously influenced by luck.  There are certain points of a hockey game where I feel it turns into a crescendo of crashing bodies and wherever the puck decides to go that’s where it goes.

4:54: Maybe it’s the two teams playing but no players are really standing out to me.  Okay, it’s definitely the two teams playing.  I guess the chaotic nature of hockey makes it harder for a player to impose their will on the game over an extended period of time.

4:57: The game is about 17 minutes in and the only players I know are Price, Kessel, and Dion.  I do not have a good reason for this except that hockey names are harder to remember than basketball ones.

Here are some thoughts and lasting impressions from the game in no particular order:

Nicole informs me that Montreal is everything a fan base should be.  I assume this means good and bad.  She tells me that bad is good.  They are ruthless but fiercely loyal.  To me this means that every game is life or death.

Nicole makes a comment about curling and that is how I found out she is switching between this game and skins curling.  I am switching between this game, Tumblr, and Twitter.  One of us is in charge of writing a weekly post called I Suck at Being Canadian I will let you guess who.

It took me two periods to realize I have not made fun of Dion yet.  Guess he doesn’t matter anymore, oh well.  That being said if Luongo gets traded to Toronto, I hope they get their own reality show.

I don’t know if this is true or not but I feel like it is, both these teams are struggling to create opportunities to score.  Nicole confirms that this is true.  She also adds that these two teams aren’t very good.  Why am I watching then?  Because Toronto and Montreal is a storied rivalry?  That sounds like the same argument people make who prefer college basketball to the NBA, “The atmosphere is so much better.”  Yeah but who watches something because of atmosphere?

I solemnly swear next week I am watching a game where both teams are good.  Nicole attempts to push her Oilers onto me.  From my understanding they have circa 2009/10 OKC Thunder potential.  So this isn’t the worst thing in the world.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

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

First off. You should have watched two good teams. I may have mentioned this before you selected the Leafs/Habs, but your Dion-related curiosity prevailed. However, it makes my little hockey-filled Canadian heart happy that you watched a full game from start to finish.

Reason # 812 David Stern should never be Gary: the NHL needs teams in Europe, South America, and Asia perhaps even less than it needs another team in Florida. Or any team in Georgia. Or Alabama. The list goes on.

Your HNIC-related arrogance is borderline inexcusable. Do you at least know who Don Cherry is? Do you have an arsenal of Don Cherry vocab armed and ready? #dontswingonit

Let’s discuss sport-related theatrical productions. Wait, don’t NBA players have ESPN television specials when they get traded? Aren’t they just one person?

As for baby faces, I think it’s really not up for debate that RNH is by far the toddler-face champ. Also, let’s test your theory- what about players who rock the bushman look? Do they look 40? Are they more sasquatch style? Are they channeling Mel Gibson? Kenny Rogers? Explain.

Most Canadians just know Jim and Craig by voice. It’s like, how we can hear the difference between fluffy snowflakes and dense nugget snowflakes or distinguish an American ‘ehhh’ from a Canadian ‘eh’.

I’m still getting over the vast horror I experienced when I read your “this sport is tremendously influenced by luck” comment. Stop. Just stop. That’s not luck- that’s skill. Someone caused that smush situation of bodies and someone ended up face planted into the ice. How about you try this and then report back about luck.

I think it says a lot about you that the only players you know are Price, Kessel, and Dion. And that you are on a first name basis with Dion. I’m not sure what this means. But I’m certain it is substantial fodder for Freud/Maury/any bartender.

Can you even imagine? Luo and Dion take Toronto. I envision their show being a beautiful combination of hair gel, expensive scotch, Atlantic lobster, pricey denim, and boy toy cars. Kind of like Property Brothers meets Little Mosque on the Prairie meets Party Mamas meets Jersey Shore. But with more polluted snow and less laundry.

One day, I will forgive you for referring to the Oilers as “not the worst thing in the world”. I accept that you meant this in a caring way. I’m worried that you can name more Leafs than Oilers. Very, very concerned. I can only hope your hockey watching adventures remedy this issue. Take you on the path to enlightenment and all that.

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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One thought on “I Suck at Being Canadian Week One: I Should Have Watched Two Good Teams Play

  1. I Suck at Being Canadian: Tales of a Hockey Athetist Living in Vancouver « This is Why we Can't Have Nice Things

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