For those of you who spend most of your available sports-following time following football, I have a suggestion: Transition to hockey during the football offseason.
Some would say that I’m merely trying to promote an NBC property, which is a fair and obvious criticism given that I work for NBC. But I don’t really promote any of the NBC properties other than football. I choose to promote hockey because it’s a vastly underrated sport that deserve a much bigger audience, especially in the playoffs.
My interest reached new heights two years ago when: (1) the Penquins were marching toward their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history; and (2) the PFT barn had four TV screens and plenty of available liquor and cigars to support the enjoyment of televised sports. So hockey it was, and hockey it has been, whenever there has been no football to enjoy.
Last year, it continued when the Penguins chased, and caught, Stanley Cup No. 5. This year, I thought I’d lose my hockey jones once the Pens were eliminated. Instead, I got even more interested.
Without having one team to obsess over, watching hockey can be simply about watching hockey. The combination of grace and speed with violence and hatred. The unnatural bending of the stick during a slap shot. The crazy path of a puck through traffic, where the chances of the thing being intentionally redirected are roughly the same as having it unintentionally crash into a sensitive area of the male anatomy. The sound of the frozen rubber projectile hitting the hard steel tube. And the endless near-miss goals, which make the game as much about dumb luck as it it about raw skill.
So hockey is a more-than-adequate replacement for football. And with the ongoing Stanley Cup Final hopefully in the early stages of a potential seven-game classic (the series is tied at one), I strongly encourage you to tune in to NBCSN on Saturday night for Game Three, as the Washington Capitals host the Vegas Golden Knights.