Saturday, August 8, 2015

Shifting gears

I don't like the Summer Olympics.  The gathering of nations and athletes run, swim, throw or perform and I am generally unmoved.  It has nothing to do with the personalities at the games, and I cheer for the people my country offers up, but, other than true stories of heroics, and drama outside of and alongside of the games (Munich 1972) I don't usually get very excited.  And I've been told that there are a number of reasons for who likes what kind of Olympics, but I am content to say, Hockey and winter sports are likely regional due to the fact that snow and ice are difficult to imagine, if one has never seen it or experienced it.  I think, though somewhat facetiously, winter driving could be a winter Olympic sport, because if a Minnesotan, Wisconsinite, Upper Peninsula Michigander get 12 inches of snow, they might drive slower, but they still drive.  Other parts, south of here huddle with blankets and call it the storm of the century.  (Obviously hyperbole).

But thinking about the Winter Games Olympics 2018 I realize is a long way off, but, I suggest that there will be a renewed European presence.  I am suggesting this because if the KHL, the Swiss league, German and Swedish leagues survive in their present form, high quality European hockey comparable to the NHL will be such that the younger players in Europe won't need to go to the NHL to develop.  Also, US/Canadian retreads in the Euro leagues will be taking fewer roster positions and salaries with every quality improvement.  I honestly believe that 2018 is going to be amazing.  And not because I have dreams of Latvia winning Gold (I don't, actually.)

As a fan of hockey I can tell you that there is great hockey to watch in nearly every level and type of ice hockey.  And, living in Minnesota, I have watched the Boy's State Hockey Tournaments on television many years, and it is nearly the finest thing I've seen.  I went to UMD, home of the Bulldogs, who were and are great.  Hockey fans could do far worse than than to attend a Minnesota college and follow the sport. 

All of which brings me to say, I can't skate.  I am clumsy, I am unathletic.  I am not a person who could ever necessarily walk without worrying about my balance, let alone putting blades upon my feet and expecting me to glide across a sheet of ice.  So, when someone looks at why I like hockey, or winter sports in general, it does not come from a place of knowing, and being.  It comes from admiration and respect.  I appreciate the many skills the men on ice have.  (Having said men on ice I should say, I've watched girls hockey, and I do not altogether enjoy that nearly so much, perhaps in the future, when the skills begin to balance alongside talents).

I'll be back next week.   Until then keep thinking Ice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Big Brawl of 1989


It was a cold night if I remember right.  I was waiting in a car for my wife as she was at a party for co-workers, a sort of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and New Years shebang.  The date was 12/28/1989.  

As the North Stars and Blackhawks did their warm ups and skate, North Stars Shane Churla and Basil McCrae took a dislike and acted upon it towards the Chicago players.  If there was a plan to attack the enemy team prior to the attack, I don't know, but what I do know is that while waiting for the pre-game, I heard a radio call of a dozen fights.  It was really very exciting, however wrong it might have been.


I was waiting and waiting but my wife came out of the house where the party was before the game actually was able to start.  As it was, the excitement of the many brawls had probably deflated any of the possible drama of the game.  


If I disliked the Blackhawks prior to the game, and I did, what I did now was hate them.  I hated them with a fire that could only be quenched by more fist fighting and slew footing.  I wanted to see Basil McRae crush all of the Blackhawks, and Shane Churla douchenozzle the load of them into a waste bin and dump them out into a giant dumpster.  I wanted the Blackhawks to die.

In other words, I was excited by the spectacle.  For good or ill, I LIKED IT.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Longtime since posting, odds and ends .

The initial purpose of this blog was going to be about collecting cards of hockey, memories of hockey, going to games, watching games, and more.  But time has its way of eroding time and commitment to projects.  So I apologize for the lack of updates.

My son and I are going to be writing more regularly here, but, again, that might be difficult depending upon the schedules.  I plan to do more interviews, if I am able, and to do more writing on the season at hand.  I had planned to write more about the previous season of hockey, and I entered it with great hope, I lost much of my happiness about the game of hockey and in general due to the events in Ukraine and the interactions with Russia.  I am not here going to debate the blame for such, but I found that most of the players I liked were saying things I disagreed with, and I could not bear to watch them.  I think this coming season will be different, and I look forward to great hockey, and great rivalries.

I am hoping to also interview some fans of hockey who are much older and who have a wider span of knowledge of the game.  This isn't, at all, complaining about any previous interview, I just am thinking how great it would be to have watched so many great years of hockey and have a memory of it to place in context Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe alongside Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and now names like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos...

Lastly, I don't want to bring up my health all the time, but, while I am still in remission with cancer, I
have been dealing with another health issue that is rather difficult to overcome.  I hope it passes, and if it does great, but if it doesn't, then this blog will likely fall away.  If that is the case, thank you for having read this blog, and for considering the various entries, the best sellers on Ebay, the interviews, and everything else.  Your support and friendship are valuable and welcomed.

Here is the news I've been waiting for for a very long time... Expansion, and return of hockey to Quebec.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

An Interview with a Hockey fan Extraordinaire Chris Bellm

I met Chris Bellm through Ebay when I made a mistake and he was gracious and helped me through it, and then he made a mistake and admitted it and could have pocketed the change, but didn't.  I was very impressed, and, then realized we lived 20 miles apart, had a mutual in person friend, went to the same comics and newspaper shop in the Twin Cities, and he lived in the city where I had spent many summers staying with my aunt and uncle's family. 

And I thought we must be related.  That is until I noticed, he was a fan of the Blackhawks.  Actually, while I was confused, many people from Minnesota have numerous favorite teams, the Minnesota North Stars, AND ______ someone else.  It is the result of our having lost a team we love, and loving hockey regardless of the level of play.  And I shared that multiple favorite experience with Chris as well.   Anyhow on to the interview.

Question #1: What is it about hockey that makes you love it so?

I love the passion.  You see it through out the sport,  the passion of the players battling through injury, etc...  to try and win the cup and for the love of the game. I love the passion of the fans, especially in Canada for the game I love.

Question #2: How much does being from the state of Minnesota play a role in your love of hockey?

Minnesota plays a strong role in my love.  The passion of the fans for all levels of hockey not just pro. College, High School and kids hockey of any age makes this game what it is.  Hockey is a sport that you need to be dedicated too with the cost, time, and ice time available.

Question #3:  How many Hockey cards do you have and which set or sets are your favorite?

I have too many hockey cards to count. I pretty much stopped collecting years ago but still get sucked in once in a while. I got rid of most of my cards about 10 years ago but kept my favorites, which is main my 1980's O-PEE-CHEE collection. I have tons of singles, sets, and unopened wax from the 80's that I will probably die with.

Question #4: Who are your favorite teams, and why?

Growing up I was just a North Stars fan, as we lost our team I kind of adopted other small market teams in trouble as I didnt want good hockey fans to lose their teams as well (Or I wanted to go through the pain again...) I was a HUGE Hartford Whalers fan the last few years of their franchise. I bought a satellite dish in 1995 to be able to watch all their games, something that was still not a common thing like today. 

I then moved on to the Oilers and Flames and took yearly trips to Alberta in the late 1990's and early 2000's. The only big market team I am a fan of is the Blackhawks, love the national anthem there even when I hated them in the 1980's, its something that drew me over to them when they were a nobody before Kane and Toews came along.

Question #5: What player is the one who pushes your angry button?

Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic are my #1 and #2 Shit list players. I hate the Bruins with a passion mainly because of these guys. Lucic is a big powerful player and every game they would be losing in the playoffs the last few years he would start gooning it up. Marchand is a pain, he goes after smaller players and dives all over the ice. There are others like Dustin Brown etc, but mainly I am a team lover/hater.

Postscript:  You can find Chris on Ebay selling wonderful ticket sets/stubs  I can personally swear by his business ethics having experienced his personal integrity.

Thank you Chris for your time and answers.