What a difference a sport makes.
We hockey fans understand this inherently. Our beloved sport is different. We may appreciate the other athletic contests and competitions. But no sport stirs us the way hockey does. And our friends — misguided though they are — whose love lies in baseball, basketball and football, to name three, cannot truly comprehend what makes our love of hockey so much more passionate.
To be clear, like Vincent declared to Jules, it’s the little differences between Lord Stanley’s Game and those others that are offer the most striking contrasts. Something simple, that we overlook on the ice that stands out foreign, undesired and unappreciated when it appears on the football field or even the basketball court.
Permit me this digression, regular hockey talk shortly will resume. Sunday evening, as the Giants and 49ers battled for the NFC Championship, a little chippiness ensued.
Let’s set the play. Frank Gore rushed off tackle on second and six for a gain of eight. San Francisco lineman Anthony Davis had New York linebacker Michael Foley pinned and Foley rips Davis’ helmet from his head.
Vernon Davis, he of the heroic game winning touchdown the previous Sunday, runs into the fray and leaps onto the back of Deon Grant. He’s summarily flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman, who you may recall from assorted NFL triumphs past, remarks that Davis (Vernon) had no business getting in the middle of that. To which I say, Pshaw!
Imagine a similar scenario in a hockey contest. Two defensemen get wrapped up along the boards and one flips the other’s helmet off.
Would you expect your team’s roughest, toughest chap to stay out of the ensuing action? Of course not. Hockey celebrates the on-ice policing of the action by the players.
Take a run at my goalie? You’re going to face consequences. Hit my best sniper when he’s not in a position to defend himself, and face some retribution.
And of course, most every announcer in the game will likewise applaud the action of sticking up for one’s teammate. Heck, Jack Edwards will call you out nightly if you don’t.
The NFL is unquestionably the dominant sports league in the US. Part of that is due to its unique method of delivery. Some credit belongs to the gamblers of days gone by who religiously watched Sunday after Sunday. Their ideological descendants — fantasy football fanatics — have taken up that slack. But in the sense that sticking up for you’d teammates is not only justifiable, but also praiseworthy, the league can stand to take a cue from hockey.