Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Game, Love & The Rangers

While I was in Philly for that fateful, horrible January game against the Flyers, I popped into a used book store near UPenn. I flipped through the stacks of beaten and battered sci fi books and was about to leave before thinking to look at the sports section. There, in the far back corner of the musty store was an original copy of Ken Dryden's book, The Game. I took the faded dust cover off to find that it was a bright red hardcover with a blue binding. Combined with the white of the pages, you have the blue, blanc et rouge of the Montreal Canadiens, Dryden's team. After years of hearing good reviews that raved just enough about it to peak my curiosity but not my wallet, I finally decided to buy it. I read a few pages on the ride home after the loss but, once home, I set the book on a stack of other unread books, preempted by television, internet, life.

Randomly yesterday I decided to pick it up again and began working my way further through Dryden's well-written prose. I am still far from the finish but I came across a passage that I needed to share here. It was originally written about the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were in the depths of the ineptitude of the Harold Ballard era. I took license to change it to the Rangers as it certainly correlates with the current state of the Rangers and unequivocally describes exactly how I feel right now, with the Blueshirts' season over:
'It is easy to say that a fan can stay at home, or at home he can change a channel and watch something else. But it isn't as simple as that. A sports fan loves his sport. A fan in New York loves hockey, and if the Rangers are bad, he loses something he loves and has no way to replace the loss.'
The playoffs start tonight and I'll hop on the bandwagon of my secondary and tertiary favourite teams by Dryden is right, something is gone and it won't be the same watching these games. The highs won't be as high and the lows certainly won't be as low.

It will be glorious to see the Stanley Cup raise, but with our boys not in the battle, it is somewhat hollow, and we can only hope and pray that next season will be able to fill that which went missing. Sadly, things being what they are here on Broadway, that feeling of loss as become all too familiar and those hopes and prayers have gone unanswered.

And yet still we hope, and still we pray, because us fans in New York love our hockey and that love can not, and will not, be lost.


Andrea said...

From "Fever Pitch," by Nick Hornby, non-fiction 1992. His English football team, Arsenal, was a perennial loser until recently. He wrote this book while they sucked and he cared. I picked it up during the Nedved Years and felt his pain. This is long, but pretty much sums up fandom:

"One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this: it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are missing the point. . . . But when there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team's fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals. . . . The joy we feel on occasions like this is not a celebration of others' good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defeat the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realize this above all things. The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us but our representatives nonetheless. . . I am part of the club, just as the club is part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding of how professional football works. This Wembley win belonged to me every bit as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas. . . and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did. The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon . . . "

Kingrich45 said...

Scotty & everyone else just curious who your secondary and tertiary teams are and why (curious what everyone else picks as legit reasons). The way I see it you have to pick one in the east and one in the west. For me I've chosen

- There an NY team thats far enough away for me not to hate (i.e. isles, devils)
- Ryan Miller is the best american goaltender in the world at the present time and I think it would be nice to see him win a cup especially after the silver in the olympics
- Its a good hockey town thats never had success
- My sister went to school up there and I have a few friends that are Sabers crazed
- I can't possibly root for Devils, Boston, Penguins, or the Flyers

For the west I'm torn between Chicago and Vancouver.

- Luongo and H. Sedin carried my fantasy team the whole year so I'm just used to rooting for them
- The city I thought was a great place for the olyimpics and hosted them well
- Another good hockey city that hasn't had much success and them rioting after we (The Rangers) beat them just shows they care lol

- Its a good young team who's heart is in the right place
- Kane
- Another good hockey city who hasn't seen much success in recent times

Pete said...

I tell you, I really wouldn't mind seeing the Capitals take it all the way, mostly because I think Ovie is a better posterboy for hockey than Crosby. Buffalo would be ok also. I obviously don't want the devils, flyers, or penguins. I hope they all choke.

In the West, I'd like to see the Coyotes go all the way. They remind me a lot of the Rangers right after the lockout. The team that got to the playoffs against all odds mostly by their ability to play as a team. Plus, there's Prucha. And you really can't be disappointed with a win by Chicago or Detroit either, IMO.

Scotty Hockey said...

Andrea - that is incredible.

Rich - Detroit has always been my second team since the days of the Bash Brothers of Kocur and Probert. As for the third, I'm taking San Jose for Jed and Manny. They'll probably choke like usual but c'mon, Jed! I just can't root for anyone in the East, spent too much time hating them all season long.

Sammael said...

I want to see Chicago and Washington. If that happens, I will be happy as hell.

Just no more Pens or Devs.