The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
I know you’re all probably waiting to hear about US Quidditch Cup 10 or the latest chapter of Marcenda’s adventures, but that is going to have to wait. Nerd games are fun, nerd sports are even better, but I love hockey above all these things.
It’s time to toss out my editorial calendar (j/k, just gonna make a lot of tweaks) and abandon my sanity because the Stanley Cup Playoffs are here! The only things I care about more than seeing the Sharks finally raise the Holy Grail of hockey are the following: breathing, sleeping, eating. I can do two of those while watching hockey, which is convenient.
Before the puck drops tonight and the Sharks #WreckTheRig in Edmonton, I thought I’d share a few of the ridiculous things my annual (except for the rare year when we miss the playoffs) hockey madness has driven me to do.
I used to keep a yearly altar to the Hockey Gods. I would lay out all my playoff tickets, my rally towels, the pucks I could buy for each round. As a sacrifice, I put a plushie of Wildwing on a noose. (Don’t worry, Pfenning; he’s free now.) Then, last year… I forgot to do it. I wrote a blog post about it, even. I miss the yearly custom but it’s nice to not be as superstitious about hockey anymore.
I sat down for Game 7, Round 2: Sharks vs. Stars. It was about 6 pm Pacific time. I sat through over two games worth of hockey as the Sharks and Stars duelled it out for a spot in the Western Conference Finals. Seven damn periods of Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco battling it out to see who would flinch first. Never mind that I had a 3 am alarm to
Nabby was the one that blinked. I couldn’t even be mad at him. (Brenden Morrow, however, was and is a little shit that I will always be mad at.) I didn’t even get a blink’s worth of sleep. Instead, I thought I could power through the night (what little of it remained) and my shift the next morning.
That was dangerous and dumb… but no one died and they should have never scheduled only one lifeguard that early in the morning anyway.
I refused to take night classes in the spring after this year. Why? Well, in the spring of 2011, I was in my first semester back in college after a seven-year hiatus. I took History of Modern Art on Wednesday nights because my siblings said it was an easy A and I had to get my fine arts requirement out of the way. The class was basically just the professor show slides of artwork and talking about it. It was a fascinating class (and it helped me when I took literature classes based on the same period later on) and never ditched it no matter how tired I was from opening the pool in the morning… until the playoffs started.
I started ditching class every time we had a game. When the final rolled around, it was heavily based on identifying slides, I was screwed. My easy A turned into the only B I got in community college (not counting math). I told myself it would be worth it if we won, but we all know that didn’t happen.
My grandmother passed away later that spring. After the initial shock passed (she’d been unwell for some time so it wasn’t too unexpected) and I began to cope with mourning her, I was glad that most of my Sharks shirts were black because God forbid a Portuguese person should catch me wearing any other color.
No playoffs for the Sharks. I became a bandwagon Warriors fan to pass the time. They won it all but I still think basketball is boring except for the last five minutes.
Am I proud of all these choices? Obviously not. But there is nothing like the agony and the ecstasy of the NHL Playoffs. I have my doubts considering the injuries the Sharks have had this year, but on the other hand, I thought our window of relevance was closed in 2015 only to see us make the finals in 2016.
The Sharks will bring the Cup home and I will be there to see it. Some years I’ve been disappointed. Some years we didn’t really choke; we just faced a better team. But every passing year has made the day I’ll find myself at the victory parade in San Jose that much sweeter. I’ll remember all the sleepless nights, all the work I missed, all the dents in my GPA, all the dates I blew off (#priorities, amirite?) all of the things I gave up for hockey, and I will think to myself: It was worth it.
Let’s just hope that this is the year.