The NHL postseason is a time for excitement, hype, and bringing a city together to rejoice and agonize over the treacherous journey that's to come.
It's also a time for writers, on-air personalities, and anyone craving attention to come out of the woodwork to siphon the event for talking points and clickbait. (I'm fully aware I contributed to the latter.)
Jim Myers, award-winning food writer from the Newsroom of the Future, penned a ridiculous and downright embarrassing column about playoff time in Nashville. This is the text that links to it, just so you aren't tricked into clicking on it if you don't want. If you don't, fear not. Because I'm looking out for your best interest, (and love punishment, apparently) we have the entire article below, paragraph by paragraph.
What follows is a dissection of more than 1,000 words on the strange and CRAZY world of ice lacrosse, in all of its cringe-inducing and unintentionally condescending glory. It reads like a guy who's seen a ton of Bruce Lee movies trying to teach you the finer points of Jeet Kune Do.
"Put the biscuit in the basket!"
Folks, it’s time to leave the Southern breads behind, if just for a while, and focus on hockey.
Get it? Because food?
In this case, we’re not talking about catheads or steaming flaky goodness. No, this biscuit is a hard, rubber puck, the object of abject obsession that starts Wednesday night and ends only when a giant silver goblet named the Stanley Cup is buoyed by toothless grins and soaring hearts.
Hockey obsessions don't start or end at any time. The playoffs do though, but for 15 other teams they don't only end with a giant silver goblet. Some could play their final game as early as next week.
It’s the NHL playoffs and our Nashville Predators are poised (slumps notwithstanding) to make the team’s first playoff run since 2011. If you’re not already a fan, here are some steps to help you get with the program.
"How did you become a hockey fan?" I can hear someone asking. The response comes with a shrug, "I read about it from some guy who does restaurant reviews."
Pssst. By the way, as much as we'd all like to forget the 2012 playoffs and the curfew incident, it still happened.
First of all, if you can get a ticket, or if some very gracious friend invites you, you have to go. This is not an optional thing.
Sean Henry will literally steal you from your bed while you sleep, just to make sure the arena isn't packed with red.
Hockey might be the single greatest sport to watch in person. Why? Let’s be honest, it’s too damned hard to see a speeding puck on a television screen.
In person, you can not only follow the biscuit, but when it does go in the basket, a little old man behind the net flips a switch and a light turns red. In hockey, this is a Pavlovian signal to scream and high-five complete strangers three rows behind you. (Note to self: Find out how to get a post-retirement gig as a switch flipper that pays you to watch hockey.)
With three seconds of Googling, I found a story from Cleveland.com with a lede of, "Chris Simon of the Lake Eerie Monsters has the loneliest job in sports." The article then details the cramped, single-minded job where Simon can't move or have any distractions. He's either "perfect or a failure." This is like saying, "I want to be a life guard because they get to sit in the sun and do nothing all day!"
Remember, hockey fans don't cheer when they see the puck go into the net. They sit patiently to see if the red light has come on before exploding in celebration.
If that weren’t enough, a foghorn blasts so deeply into your soul that your shoelaces come untied. That blast serves as the introductory note for group singing followed closely by mass taunting. No, it’s not a Johnny Depp film, it’s hockey.
I double knot mine now, sucker!
In order to make your experience as full as possible, and to prime you for the grueling run to the championship — there are four best-of-seven series to win the Cup — here’s a primer that even a basketball fan can enjoy and understand.
Should basketball fans or hockey fans feel more insulted by that?
Is it halftime?
No, there is no halftime in hockey. Just to be different, there are three 20-minute periods, and three, being a magic number, is indivisible by two. Oh, the heck with the math. Just don’t say it.
Counting to three is hard, you guys. What about the Sounds? I hear they are playing soon. Is there halftime in baseball?
What’s the five hole?
It’s really hard to get a puck past a professional goalie, especially someone like the Predators’ 6’5" Pekka Rinne, but there are five numbered "holes" where the puck usually goes. One through four are the high and low areas on each side of the goalie. The five hole, is that tricky triangle between the legs. ...
... While you’re at it, learn how to pronounce our fabulous goalie’s name. It’s PECK-ah REEN-eh. You think that’s hard, try saying "Minä rakastan sinua," which means "I love you" in his native Finnish language.
To get technical, there are 7 major holes for a goaltender. (Damn, phrasing.) Also, what's hard about Pekka?
Shouting "You’re a hoser!" at an opposing player
This one’s fun because it is such a Canadian thing to say. Hoser is the term our neighbors to the north use to call someone a loser or an idiot. Its origins go back to the early days of hockey, before Zamboni machines, when the team that lost the game actually had to hose down the ice for a fresh surface
Take off. I have literally never heard anyone at a hockey game shout "hoser" before. Anyone? Has anyone? Speak up because I need to know this now.
By the way, thanks for the history lesson, Jim. Just be careful not to throw the word Zamboni around willy-nilly. Just like Kleenex, Frisbee, or Band-Aid, Zamboni is a company name, not an all encompassing doohickey. They also don't like it when they're confused with other "ice resurfacing machines."
Filip Forsberg is fun
First of all, don’t confuse him with Peter, that other Swedish player with the same last name, though it’s an honest and very hopeful mistake (Peter is a Hall of Famer and played briefly for the Preds almost 10 years ago).
Yeah! Don't get a 20-year-old kid mixed up with a guy who played 17 games in Nashville and hasn't played a meaningful hockey game since 2008! You dummies! Also, that guy on the team married to Carrie Underwood? NOT Donald Fisher, the founder of The Gap. The more you know.
There are plenty of sad parts about this piece, but this so obviously thrown in there to say, "See! I've heard of things!"
Our current Forsberg is an exciting young player, and by young, we mean he can’t legally take a shot of aquavit until next August. He’s had a great season, racked up 63 points (goals and assists), and he’s still barely shaving. The best part? We practically stole him from the Washington Capitals.
Forsberg may not be able to grow the best beard, but his sweater game is off the charts. Best watch yourself. Also, the NSA has already informed the FBI that you have confessed to aiding and abetting in the larceny of Washington property. That low rumble you hear on the horizon is the horde of helicopters coming for you.
This is the epicenter for taunts, chants and general Predator passion. Up high in the corner, the section known as the Cell Block practically requires a finger prick test and an oath of allegiance to even sit there.
I didn't get a cavity search the last time I sat in 303, but maybe I'm just missing out.
Sitting high in the corners is actually a great way to watch the game because you can see the plays develop. That’s a nice way of saying, "I’d rather be on the glass where I can be a half-inch away when Jonathan Toews’ mug gets hot-pressed in the corner."
Cheap seats are for chumps, apparently. What about the people, like myself, who actually DO like to see the entire sheet of ice to be able to see what's going on? I've spent way more time in the 300s and 400s of the world, and it's what I prefer. I could care less whether I actually see Captain Canada's monotonous face, or his awful sideburns.
For the record, Toews is the leading scorer for the Preds’ rival and first-round opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks.
You walk us through pronouncing Rinne's name, but leave the newbies in the dark on Toews?? Cruel.
The tradition of the hat trick
Sure the moniker came from cricket, but it’s a staple term in ice hockey for when a player scores three goals in a game. It’s also rare. Only James Neal has done it for the Preds this season. That’s why, yes, it’s not only OK, but welcomed to throw your hat on the ice when a player scores his third goal.
"You that famous hockey thing? Not even from hockey?" Thanks, buzzkill. Next you're going to tell me is the NHL didn't invent ice and hot chicken sandwiches aren't available in Bridgestone anymore.
What about throwing catfish? Or do we have to throw biscuits now?
Mike Fisher lives in a celebrity soap opera
He’s the dashing assistant captain of the team. His wife, Carrie Underwood, is a stunner whose beauty is matched only by her voice. Together, they are an unlikely Nashville love story, cooing over their first son born earlier this year. But hockey is a violent game, and music critics can be even rougher. Will they survive the gauntlet of their lives? Will a trade rip them apart, wrenching Mike from his feathered nest? Will Carrie win an eighth Grammy? We can only sit and watch, as the puck drops
Speed, speed and more speed
I know, you get it, hockey’s a fast game. Still, when the playoffs roll around, players somehow find another set of gears. That sense of urgency translates into a much quicker game. It can be dizzying, and because players’ legs can only sustain that kind of play for about a minute, you’ll see players jumping on and off the bench at an astounding rate.
Also known as "line changes." Nah, that's too hard for you to remember, we'll go with "jumpy-switchy change up time."
It’s a level of conditioning rivaled only by professional eaters and Phish heads.
And anyone who made it this far into the article.
Get your Fang Fingers ready
We might have the only mascot inspired by a fossilized skull of an extinct species, though there’s talk in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s office about changing the Anaheim Ducks to the Anaheim Australopithecines. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
What we do have is a Monty Python-worthy physical taunt called "fang fingers" where we mimic the saber-toothed fangs as a way to humiliate opponents on their way to the penalty box (AKA The Sin Bin).
The only people Fang Fingers humiliate are the Predators fans that have to hear the entire rest of the league make fun of them for it.
So there you go. Ready or not, we have a few weeks ahead of turning honky-tonk phrases into hockey talk lore. Go Smashville.
HOPEFULLY. HOPEFULLY A FEW WEEKS. JIM DON'T JINX THE PREDS. Remember what I said about seasons potentially being over as early as next week? Also, I realize journalists hate exclamation marks, but a little enthusiasm wouldn't hurt. Ending that piece with a period sounds like, "I am rooting for the specified group of physically talented men, assimilated to compete in aforementioned sporting event happening in the confines of the municipality of which I reside."
Mr. Myers may be a gigantic Predators fan, or he may be a brand new Predators fan. Either is fine, and there's nothing wrong trying to introduce new people to the game of hockey, especially during playoff time. But this is just flinging random, useless tidbits of the game around to try and fit in with the crowd. The market already suffers from a lack of respect from people around the league who have never seen downtown at game time, or heard how loud Bridgestone Arena is in person. Stuff like this just adds fuel to that fire, and makes me feel bad for the men and women in the area that cover this sport and this team every single day.
It may not be tomorrow, or even next season, but if the Predators continue to do what they've been doing, (or if they have any success this postseason) new fans are going to come. You know, as long as it isn't too damn hard for them to follow along with on TV.