Because I don't have nearly enough black t-shirts, I had to go ahead and enter this contest so I can add the glorious 'Hackey Night' shirt to my collection.
Here we go, in no particular order...
5 - The Stanley Cup - Easy. No other trophy in major professional team sports lists the names of every player on the winning team on the trophy. No matter what happens to you after you've won a Stanley Cup, nothing will ever take your name off that beautiful piece of hardware. No other trophy allows you to drink beer out of it in the dressing room. No other trophy spends a day with every player who earned the right to hold it over the summer. No other trophy comes close. End of story.
4 - Ball Hockey - Having never been a very good skater, or the kind of person who enjoys going outside in the winter, I never let these things get in the way of being a force in a game of ball-hockey. Whether I'm utilizing my Chris Gratton-esque size in front of the net on offence, Ian White-like determination and grit on D or my rapier-like glove-hand between the plastic pipes, the game remains the same. Another great advantage of ball-hock? It's much, much easier to do the Pavel Bure 'Kick the puck to your stick' deke and go backhand shelf while you're running with a ball than it is to do it on skates.
3 - Pension Plan Puppets.com - No, I'm not looking for brownie points here. Have you ever actually taken a step back and considered how ridiculous the community is here? 1,000+ comments for game 70 of a season that has seen the team perpetually in 29th place?! That's ludicrous. Beyond just the incredible comments, I have met no less than a dozen of the members here and I don't have a single negative thing to say about any one of them. I mean, seriously, I got into a car and drove to MONTREAL to hang out with people I'd never met before. Months later, several of the finest members here came to my birthday and gave me an awesome gift that sits on my fridge, along with several other cards I received from Wraparoundcurl, another member I met here. Fast forward another 6 months, and I've housed fine members of this place to stay on my couch on back-to-back weekends without ever thinking twice about it. Somehow, while some of us have never actually met, it feels like we know each other quite well. Maybe there are other hockey blogs around that have that sense of pride, trust, familiarity and unity amongst their members, but I sure as hell haven't found it, and I'm not about to go looking.
2 - Team Canada - It's a very, very common stereotype that we Canadians are a modest and humble people. For the most part, this is a true statement. We generally don't bang our 'Canada is amazing!' drum too loudly or get too upset when sporting events don't go our way. As long as everyone tried hard and did their best, right? Well, not in hockey, brother. Team Canada hockey just isn't in the same world. We NEEDED to win that gold medal. It was everything. Some scope: I had to work the night of the gold medal game. My boss told everyone in the office to not bother coming in until the game was over. There was champagne and pizza when we got there. Grown men were hugging and crying. It was more than just another day at work. After my shift, at 12:45am, over 8 hours after Crosby scored the GWG, I headed to Yonge & Dundas square downtown and it was still a madhouse. People were walking the streets waving flags and singing the national anthem at the top of their lungs. My co-workers and I walked into a packed bar, where the replay of the game had just hit the midway point of the 2nd period. 9 hours after the original goal, the entire place erupted when Crosby scored again. Everyone in the bar belted out the national anthem along with the team, more hugs and cheers and tears. At 2:15am, we turned to the bartender and inquired about last call. "Tonight? Tonight there is no last call." On the walk home at 4am, we all wondered about whether or not we'd ever see a day like that in our entire lives. That, my friends, is more than just one win by one hockey team.
1 - The Suits (duh, right?) - You wear a suit on game day. Period. It's the standard policy across the board in all levels of organized hockey. While football and baseball players sneak into their clubhouses (or in the NFL's case, COACH ON THE SIDELINES) in jeans, hoodies or sweats, hockey players are in suit and tie every time they walk in and out of the arena for a game. Maybe this is something you'll laugh off or consider to not be a big deal. As a counter-argument, I'd like to point out that NBA Commissioner David Stern had to create a dress code rule 5 years ago to bring his players to the same level that the NHL players have been at since they were 10 years old. It's a sign of unity, a sign of maturity and it looks fantastic, quite frankly.
So... can I have my shirt now, or what?