Tonight, the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals may come to a close if the Chicago Blackhawks win at home, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning and winning the cup for the third time in five years.
The world is in a frenzy. Or at least some of the world is in a frenzy.
One place the frenzy does not exist is in my house.
I have a long history with hockey. I knew Lloyd Pettit, who wanted to build an arena (the Bradley Center) so he and his wife could bring an NHL team to Milwaukee. Pettit was a play-by-play guy for the Blackhawks when he met a zillionaire and married her, changing her name to Jane Bradley Pettit. As long as he was around, the discussion about an NHL team was alive.
I had lunch with Pettit at the Pfister Hotel once where he tried to convince me to write a column about how wonderful it would be if Milwaukee had an NHL team. I asked him about the problem of not being able to see the puck. Once he realized I wasn’t going to buy into this, he said I must need new glasses if I couldn’t see the puck. I didn’t write the column.
And since that day I have never been able to see the attraction in hockey. And when you get down to it, there are five things about hockey I can’t stand.
I’ve seen hockey in person and on television. And I can’t see the puck. Once, when I was between planes, my sports editor sent me to Minnesota to see a three-game hockey series with the University of Wisconsin playing. I remember vividly that there was a total of 18 goals scored. I never saw one of them. Oh, when the light went off, and the team started celebrating, I knew a goal had been scored. But I never once actually saw the puck go into the goal. The problem is exacerbated on television. Not only can’t I see a goal made, I only see the puck about 50 percent of the time. Imagine watching a basketball game or a soccer match where you only see the ball half the time and never see it go into the hoop or net.
I don't have a clue what the rules are regarding substitutions. All I know is that it seems like players are shuttled in and out virtually every couple of minutes or so. It apparently doesn’t have anything to do with whether the guys on the ice (there is also a dumb play by that name) are playing well or not. First, you have one line then another line and then another line and so on. It sounds like a bunch of rich people doing coke.
Brutality and boards
Watch hockey at the highest level, and the brutality is astounding. The loudest cheers you hear are for a goal. The second loudest is when some guided missile missing a few teeth barrels at over 20 miles per hour into some other guy with a few missing teeth and crashes him into the boards. The crowd goes nuts. It sounds like you’re at a Mixed Martial Arts fight or something. Bring on the blood!
I love speed, but hockey never stops so you never have a chance to even try to figure out what’s going on. Players moving in and out, sticks swinging, referees flinching whenever a player comes close. The action never stops. Basketball is a fast game, but you don’t need to have a timeout to know what’s happening. It would be a lot easier to follow a hockey game if they took away the skates. Or you could at least make three players on each team wear sneakers while the others wore skates.
Hockey is a game that is meant to be played outside, on ice. When you have a game inside an arena, the crowd is hot, and the ice is cold. It would be a lot more interesting to play hockey outside, say in Lambeau Field or Miller Park or Camp Randall. Take down the boards. Put down a rink and a foot high pile of snow around it. Make the players wear scarves and mittens and knit hats. And let’s have some cheerleaders serving hot chocolate.
Now, that’s a game I could love.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.