Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What the puck is this?

Among the many things I know nothing about are computers, women, and hockey. Last night I was invited to an L.A. Kings hockey game where the other two things I know nothing about were nowhere in sight. A friend offered to teach me the sport so I figured, what the hell? It was a night out at the Staples Center and I needed more three-hold paper. The mighty Kings had lost 9 of 11 so getting tickets was not a problem. In fact, they said if we were running late, call, and they’d hold the game for us.

Big difference from a Laker crowd. Celebs for the Lakers include Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington. Here it’s actor, Larry Mann and Jaimie Farr. More Hollywood stars used to attend Kings games when Gretzky was playing for them. That was back at the Fabulous Forum. They would sit right on the glass in the seats actual fans could never afford. There was a lip protruding from the glass which these celebs thought was for putting their drinks on. They didn’t realize players would be crashing into it. Goldie Hawn and company were unceremoniously drenched. It was a beautiful thing.

Different dress code, too. Laker fans come all pimped out. Kings fans all wear jerseys. More than a few should also be wearing goalie masks. But they were loud and boisterous and unlike me, seemed to know what was going on.

I sat next to a lovely gentleman who had had seven Red Bulls. But he assured me that until nine he was okay. Meanwhile, he spent the last two periods doubled over with his hands covering his head. Now I know why the Kings are off to such a poor start. I suspect he is one of their scouts.

Two 17 minute intermissions made for a lot of beer sales. By the third period everyone was rowdy. A Shark player got hit in the kisser with a puck. As he staggered over to the bench fans were yelling, “Get back on the ice, you baby!” The NHL is the official sport of the American Dental Association.

The P.A. system at the Staples Center is the worst. It was like how the Peanuts characters used to hear their teacher. Of course it didn’t help that every hockey player has fifteen consonants in his name.

As a novice I had just as much fun during the intermissions. Fans were invited to send text messages that would be posted on the scoreboard so we tried to send cleverly veiled obscene ones. I’m guessing we weren’t the first. None got posted. But truthfully, who gives a shit about “Hi, Mom,” “Kings rule”, and “Jess, would you marry me? Alex”?

The game was good but not nearly as exciting as the human bowling event between the first and second periods. The only way to be eligible to play was to fail a breathalyzer test.

No major brawls which was disappointing. Although there was a lot of physical contact. A penalty is defined as something that maims a player for life. Usually that’s a two minute punishment.

What’s wrong with this picture? The Sharks actually have a player who’s Afro-American. Mike Grier. That’s even more astounding than a white guy in the NBA. (His dad, Bobby Grier, is a coach for the New England Patriots).

Hooked up after the game with the Sharks radio announcer, Dan Rusanowsky. Even the broadcasters have long unpronounceable names. Boy, you REALLY got to be a fan to listen to hockey on the radio. “Tverdovsky over to Kostopoulos, now to Visnovsky, intercepted by Nobokov.” It’s like a Russian novel book-on-tape.

One thing I do know about hockey, it’s wall-to-wall action, great fun. And when you get down to the last five minutes and the game is tied, it’s totally wild. The Kings won 4-2 and the human bowler knocked down four pins.


Diane said...

Hockey is the best sport live, and the worst for tv . . . Staples Center is nice, but nothing beats the good old days of the Forum Club

Mike Barer said...

It sounds like there is a dark side to Goldie Hawn. Do tell us more!

Malachy Walsh said...

You got to see it at its best. Live. Too bad there isn't human bowling at other sporting events. Or during Congressional hearings.

Anonymous said...

Hockey fever! Catch it!

Diane is right...ain't nothing like it. The best place for it was 1800 W. Madison St. Chicago. The late great Chicago Stadium. Best sporting arena in the world, owned by the worst franchise owner in sports.

If you want to get goosebumps and see what it was all about: http://chicagoblackhawks.com/
Then scroll down and choose 1991 NHL All Star Game.
Makes you proud to be a hockey fan, a Chicagoan and an American.

The Curmudgeon said...

In fact, they said if we were running late, call, and they’d hold the game for us.

Bill Veeck used to use this line talking about his ownership of the St. Louis Browns. And he had an ashtray in his wooden leg. He'd stay at a speaking engagement until either (1) the beer ran out or (2) the leg became too full of cigarette butts.

Another great post, Mr. Levine. Thanks for the daily dose.

VP81955 said...

Hockey is a wonderful sport, though it doesn't translate well to (non-HD) television. It's best experienced live, which is how I became a fan back in the early '80s, when there was a "save the Caps" campaign in Washington. I thought, if the Capitals leave, we may never get baseball back in D.C., so I'll buy a 10-game plan." (I was proven right, though the return of baseball took 23 more years.) Anyway, I was hooked on hockey -- used to see Larry King at the Cap Centre when he was still an overnight radio host -- and have loved the game ever since. (And now that Ovechkin's in town...) Learn the rules, get a feel for the game, and I guarantee you'll love it too. (I went to a Kings game at Staples Center in March 2000, incidentally; a very nice arena, with good mass transit access on the Blue Line across the street.)

BTW, was Goldie wearing a tight blouse when splashed? (Of course, this was before she made herself slightly bigger for "The Banger Sisters," so it probably didn't matter much.)

branfordbob said...

Never had much use for hockey, although I agree it is more interesting live than on TV (can't imagine radio, we agree).

Sports columnist Mike Lupica used to have a theory that there were 16,000 hockey fans (total) across the country who go from arena to arena watching the games. Apparently 4-5 of 'em read your blog...


EditThis said...

Hey, I was at that game, too, and I'm a woman who had my computer with me. Where the hell were YOU sitting?

Anonymous said...

vp19 -

Rarer than an African American hockey player is some one praising LA's mass transit.

TJ said...

Man, don't get me started on hockey! I've been reading for a while, Ken, and this is the one thing that'll get me leaving a long enough comment to make up for all the other posts I didn't remark on.

I love hockey! I disagree with the others, though. If you watch it on TV a few times, you can start to follow it pretty well. Live, though... yeah. Amazing game live.

(It probably didn't hurt that the first game I saw was with two women who took me home with them after.)

Anonymous said...

I've been to two Washington Capitals games, and they were both a lot of fun, but not only was the announcer hard to understand, everything was announced minutes after it happened. The home team scores, the crowd goes wild, a few moments pass and then the visitors score. Then a booming voice from above screams excitedly about the home team's goal. It was weird.

Brent McKee said...

Hockey is great on television, but only if you have a Canadian TV crew from director on down. We've been broadcasting the game on TV up here for over 50 years and "Hockey Night In Canada" has been the top TV show in the country for every one of those years. It would have been longer but TV only started up in Canada in 1952. Before that we were watching it on radio.

A. Jonathan Cox said...

I listen to it on my Sirius radio - the score scrolls across the screen and gives me something to look at when I don't feel like watching the road. It's as awesome as it is dangerous.

jimhenshaw said...

I completely believe my attendance at an LA Kings game in 1996 led to the firing of the coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Being Canadian, hockey's in the blood and I couldn't believe how game-uneducated most of the fans around me were. I was seated behind the Leafs bench and at some point got on the coach for what I thought was a dumb move. He rewarded my (incredibly creative) tirade with a finger, but I noticed the team manager staring at me from nearby. The look on his face said, "God, if one of these idiots can see we have a problem, we must really have a problem." Two weeks later the coach was gone and led the next team he coached to the Stanley Cup. I still have not received a thank you note.

Anonymous said...

One slight correction...hockey players (and fans) wear sweaters, not jerseys.

Anonymous said...

Hockey! 4-ever! There is NO substitute.

But I've always thought selling Hockey to NFL, Baseball and Basketball fans is like selling bikinis to Buddhists.

Don't even try.