5 - The Zamboni
Does any other sport have a purpose built vehicle to do its bidding? Not any I can think of. The Zamboni is a wonderful, hypnotizing and classic piece of the game of hockey. Ever time I go to a rink I am always transfixed when the Zamboni does its thing, I have been since I was knee high to a duck, standing on tip toes or getting my dad to hold me up so I could watch my favourite part, when the Zamboni did the edges with the spinny brush.
4- Playing in the dark
As a kid I played a ton of puck on out door rinks, especially up in Thunder Bay, which had a crazy awesome rink to person ratio. As I got older, and me and the crew got our drivers licenses we started going to rinks after dark, when they were empty as could be. Sure we had to clean it ourselves. but we had the ice to ourselves against the back drop of a crisp winter night. There was an incredible combination of the peace and quiet of the surrounding wilderness (most of these rinks were in public parks surrounded by trees) combined with the intensity of our games. That and a six pack cooling in the snow beside the rink.
3 - The Music
Hockey and music go together like bacon and my stomach. Hockey purposed music like the original hockey night in Canada song which makes me smile like an idiot every time I hear it, or the New Free To Be Anthem that has grown on me like some sort of catchy fungus. Hockey themed music like the Stompin' Tom classic or even 50 mission cap.And then there is the in game music, How pumped do you get when the Leafs come out to Welcome to the Jungle? Or when Zombie nation plays after a goal? It makes the experience all the more.
Hatred is a huge part of every major sport. We all hate the other guy. As Leaf fans (most of) you know all about hatred. Pretty much everyone hates us and our team for one reason or another, It brings fan bases together and keeps rivalry alive. Where would the NHL have been without the blood feuds of the Wings Avs playoff tussles of a decade ago, or the original Battle of Ontario? Some of it is stupid and irrational, some of it is sane and warranted. I hate a lot of hockey related stuff, mainly Ottawa Senator based (because fuck those guys) and it keeps games exciting when they shouldn't be, adds more emotion and weight to games that do. It is always nice to say after a season like this one "sure we didn't make the playoffs but we won the season series against those dick bag Senators"
1- Don Cherry
The man of controversy himself. As a child of the 90's I grew up with Grapes and his Rock em Sock em videos and the golden era of coaches corner. Yes, he is losing his mind, and his definition of politically correct is older than the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the man loves hockey. His passion for the game rivals any fan out there and he really does know his stuff, if you have a Don Cherry to normal person translator he makes good points on a regular basis.
My love for this man even goes past hockey, his tributes to our fallen troops are heartfelt, humbling and most of all well meaning and legitimate. He isnt doing it for ratings, or to make a point, he just wants to honour our heros and make sure that we don't forget about what those brave people are doing what they have to keep us safe.
Love him or hate him, Don Cherry is a big part of the hockey experiences for my generation, sure he might be getting past his due date, but to me, the man represents the passion, and love for the game of hockey that I have to a T.