Hockey season far from over

first_imgWith the men’s and women’s hockey teams bringing a pair of those shiny championship trophies back to Madison, it’s safe to say that most students have had enough of hockey for a little while.In fact, most American sports fans would tell you that they’re done watching pucks fly until October, when college hockey resumes once again.Not for me, though. As cool as it was to witness two teams at my school earn national championships in a matter of a month — during my freshman year — the fun hasn’t even really begun yet. There’s still two more months of good hockey left.I’m talking about the NHL playoffs, the great race for Lord Stanley’s Cup.Editors’ note: Since Mr. Brenner declined to explain what the “NHL” is, we, the editors, feel inclined to inform the reader that it stands for the National Hockey League. It’s the professional version of college hockey, which we all have learned to love. You can learn more about said “NHL” on the Internet, or by calling up any Canadian person you know. — Respectfully, the EditorsThe NFL postseason is fantastic, the MLB playoffs have had their moments, and the NBA playoffs are great as well. But thinking back on my 19 years of experience watching sports, I must admit that my greatest postseason memories have definitely happened in the NHL playoffs.I’ll admit something else right off the bat … I’ve barely watched a game all year. I used to be a die-hard Colorado Avalanche fan and a die-harder Detroit Red Wings hater, but that part of my life as passed.That’s probably due to a combination of three things. First, there’s the lockout, which cancelled all NHL games for the 2004-05 season. There’s also the fact that I moved to Wisconsin, a state that lacks a pro team (something I’ll never be able to figure out why). As a result of the latter reason, Madison doesn’t seem to televise many regional NHL games at all.However, in the past, I would be able to rely on national broadcasts, but there’s your third reason why I haven’t been keeping up on the Avalanche. There is none, since ESPN decided to drop their contract with the NHL.Oh, sure, there’s OLN, putting games on the air on Monday and Tuesday nights. But I tried watching a few games, and it just wasn’t the same without Gary Thorne, Steve Levy and Barry Melrose. Besides, I just can’t take a network seriously when it prides itself upon nonstop coverage of a bicycle race once a year.However, it all changed last Saturday. NBC began televising games Jan. 14 and continued into mid-February with some weekend games. But last weekend, I had a few minutes and turned on the tube, and NBC was showing my Avs taking on the St. Louis Blues.Within two minutes, Joe Sakic — my childhood hero and former neighbor just down the street in Littleton, Colo., — ripped that beautiful wrister of his past the Blues netminder.At that point, I had a revelation. The NHL playoffs — for the first time in 24 months — are coming up, and I wouldn’t be Aaron Brenner if I missed ’em.I mean, the NHL playoffs have produced such great moments as the five-overtime thriller between Dallas and Anaheim in 2003, the New Jersey Devils clinching the championship with a Jason Arnott overtime goal and guys like Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque riding off into the sunset by winning the Stanley Cup in their final games (all right, I’m a little biased on that last one).But let’s talk about that Cup for a second, because that’s the best part of the whole playoffs. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Stanley Cup is the absolute coolest championship trophy in the world of sports. Hands down.I mean, like I said before, those NCAA plaques look nice, but how cool is it to watch the players parade around the ice with this massive silver Cup after clinching the title, pumping it up and down, kissing it, the whole bit? It’s an unbelievably time-honored tradition, something lacking from football, baseball and basketball, where the trophy itself means very little.Speaking of tradition, the Cup is full of that. It was purchased in 1892 by Lord Stanley, who thought the best hockey team in the world (or Canada at that time, to be more specific; hockey wasn’t exactly a worldwide sport in the 19th century) should be represented with a silver cup. It was first used in the NHL in 1918 and will be awarded for the 87th time to the winner of these upcoming Cup playoffs.Each player on the winning team will get to travel with the Cup wherever they want and do whatever they want for a day in the offseason, another super-cool tradition of the playoffs.So I guess that, while I’m not quite the Avs fan I used to be, I’m officially pumped for two more full months of hockey. I just hope I’m not the only one.Otherwise, it might just be a whole lot of Canadians and me tuning in.Yes, you just read a column on the NHL. No, Aaron did not write this on a dare. You can make fun of his love for professional hockey by e-mailing comments to [email protected]last_img