Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don’t Stop Believing

This year and right now the Los Angeles Kings are responsible for reinventing an interest in hockey greater than any I have seen in the thirty-five years I’ve lived in Orange County.  The other night, when the team was on its way to sweep St. Louis after soundly trouncing Vancouver, I was watching the action in a Hamburger Hamlet off Ventura Boulevard while waiting to attend a Casting Workshop.

At a table nearby were two couples engaged in a very lively conversation about the game, hockey in general, and the history that goes with the sport.  Like classic jokes: “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out.”  Or the fervor the fans have as their home team follows a quest for “The Cup” donated originally by the Canadian Governor-General, the Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892.  It was not coincidental that it was a Canadian politician who gave the cup to Montreal that first year, since it was then believed that hockey was only a Canadian sport.

But it is now not only played in the colder countries of Europe and North America, but in many areas of the United States, including Phoenix, where the Kings will try to close out their dream of beating both the number one and two seeds to win the prize.

I first became interested in the game through my father.  He followed the sport, mostly in the papers and occasionally on the radio, since Mason City, Iowa is a far cry from most established teams.  However, my mother often spoke of how he had gone to a Blackhawk’s game when he was in Chicago for the Midwinter Dental Meeting.  I doubt if it had anything to do with the cold, but he came down with pneumonia and came close to death from the experience.

While in the Navy I found myself able to take my boys to games in several locations: we saw games in San Jose while stationed at Moffett Field, in Washington, DC while stationed in the nation’s capital, and both in Anaheim and Los Angeles while at The El Toro Marine Base.  Perhaps it was the variety that resulted in their having a general interest rather than the passion of a fanatic fan.

But, back to the Hamburger Hamlet.  What I heard that gave me the reason to intervene in their conversation was this gentleman saying he was a Red Wing fan.  Now I have had several friends, including two young ladies, who were avid Red Wing fans.  Not too unusual, since the Detroit team has won the most Stanley Cups of any U.S. team (11) and is third in the number of wins, following the Montreal Canadiens (24) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (12).  The NHL started the year Detroit formed a team, in 1926, with six teams participating: Red Wings, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Bruins, and my dad’s Blackhawks.

Pavel Datsyuk - 2008
My comment, when I heard he was a Red Wing fan was, “Is that the team that throws whale meat on the ice?”  He graciously introduced himself as Seymour, and corrected me (even though I knew what the correction would be) by informing me that it was actually octopus, or, because several are usually thrown, octopi.

The original octopus was thrown by Peter Cusimano, the owner of a Detroit fish market. in a playoff game in 1952, and the practice continues at home playoff games to this day, most likely because the Red Wings swept the 1952 series and won The Cup.  So, it is considered a good luck talisman.  A few years ago, the NHL tried to ban the practice, mostly because the octopi were being picked up by Al Sobotka who was swinging them around his head with so much energy parts were flying on to the ice, endangering the players.

Instead of banning the fan action, they now enforce that linesmen assist in removal and that any twirling occur only at the Zamboni entrance where remnants can be carried off the ice.

A second fan tradition of the Red Wings is the singing of “Don’t Stop Believing”, Journey’s longtime hit, which is played and sung toward the end of the game, when the team is winning.  The music is paused early in the song, the sound system is muted, and the crowd, as one chants, “Born and raised in South Detroit.”

Aren’t fans great?  Are any of you passionate about your sports teams?

Oh, and I’m thinking that the Kings might start a tradition of throwing a Kardashian on the ice at playoffs.  We seem to have an abundance of them, and they are probably at the game.

Next post should be informative.  I’m writing an article on what has happened to chewing gum in the last ten years.  Come on back!

No comments:

Post a Comment