let’s hit the ice

Here we go.

While most people will believe I have decided to write about ice hockey because the NHL playoffs are kicking off tonight … they would actually be wrong <although I will get to it>.

Turkmenistan has just announced it will create a hockey league.

Ice hockey may seem odd for a desert nation (temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius/120 degrees Fahrenheit) but, hey, America has hockey in glacial Phoenix and Tampa bay … so what the heck.


This week Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has ordered the country, and the state departments themselves, to create a hockey league.

The best news? National newspaper ‘Neutral Turkmenistan’ reported that the police are already busy setting up their own team (note: if you are betting I would bet on them … oh … unless the military creates a team).

Alright. The NHL playoffs.

Let’s be clear.

Ice hockey has a challenge.

No one watches it. Ok. Not really ‘no one’ <note: an example of hyperbole to make a point> … but surely not a lot of someones.

Let me move to Exhibit 1.


I admit.  Every time I see ice skating listed on TV schedule I wonder who the hell watches.

And who the hell at a network would schedule ice skating opposite a Heat – Bulls game (I say this as a follow up to the ‘who the hell watches ice skating’ earlier comment).


Interestingly one Sunday happened to be a “skating Sunday” and there was a Heat vs. Bulls game opposite.


While nothing had the same rating as the NBA game there were a variety of skating options on that day.

Option 1 – NHL all-Star game.

Option 2 – US Figure skating championships.

Option 3 <one network showing a wry sense of humor> … the movie Blades of Glory airing opposite the Figure Skating Championships.

Here is the nutty thing (the actual Exhibit 1 portion).

Option 1. NHL all star game gets a 1 household TV viewer rating.

Option 3. Blades of Glory gets a 1.7 household TV viewer rating.

Option 2. Figure Skating Championships gets a whopping 2.2 household TV viewer rating (2.7 in the second hour).


Not only did figure skating give the NHL an uppercut KO shot but frickin’ Blades of Glory gave it a good ole fashion whuppin’.

<note: once I found this out I immediately sent a sarcastic email to a buddy of mine who lives in Maine and is a die hard NHL fan only to get a ‘kiss my ass’ email in return>.


Let me move on to Exhibit 2.

Because it isn’t like we haven’t had the opportunity to watch the NHL.

The NHL and NBC recently signed a 10-year television agreement which meant that aside from pre- and post-game shows, between NBC and Versus/NBC Sports Network, over 100 regular season games were shown. And beginning with these playoffs, every single matchup will be broadcast on the NBC family of networks and NHL Network. There’s not much more an ice hockey fan could ask for.

So, what’s my point in Exhibit 2?

See Exhibit 1.


Because I am a solution sort of guy I thought maybe I could identify the issue.

Thanks to one of the best blogs in the entire universe, if not galaxy, http://50topmodels.wordpress.com/

<a blog that explores the great world of visualized thinking> I discovered a visualization for the issue that ice hockey has in the world of ‘capturing our attention.’

Ice Hockey 50topmodels site

As they say:  Due to a complex formula not all sports that are fun to play are equally fun to watch. Even the most hard-core free diver would never indulge in a, say, four hour live broadcast of his sport. Meanwhile, it can highly rewarding to watch The Strongest Man in The World Competition, even if the idea of carrying a truck tire is not very appealing. Interestingly enough is soccer, arguably the most popular sport of the world, fun to play, but boring to watch.

We racked our brains to come up with something that is, somewhat, easy to master and fun to watch: sex and dodge ball. Sometimes dancing and boxing, too.

(it is their image above)


I like ice hockey. For god’s sake I learned to skate on ice hockey skates (which, by the way, meant that any time someone wanted me to skate on figure skates I would end up catching that idiotic perforated edge on figure skates on the ice and do an immediate face plant). And I enjoyed ice hockey enough to play club hockey until someone who really didn’t know how to skate thought throwing his stick along the ice to stop you from getting too far ahead was the best way of stopping you.

Ice hockey is so cool <pun intended> that it doesn’t have a beginning date and it wasn’t even called ‘ice hockey’ when it began.

Ice Hockey was not invented nor did it start on a certain day of a particular year. It originated circa 1800 with students at Canada’s first college, King’s College, when they adapted the exciting field game called ‘Hurley’ to the ice of their favorite skating pond. The Blue Devils (that is their current mascot … no clue what it was then) created Ice Hurley which gradually developed into Ice Hockey.

<note: I am pleased someone was smart enough to change its name>


I will give you three reasons why you should watch the NHL playoffs:

1. No one is safe in the first round.

Since the NHL went to the 1-8 conference format a No. 8 seed had upset a No. 1 nine times. That’s nine times out 36 series. That’s a decent amount of upsets for what should be an “easier” matchup for the top seeds.

This year? The 1 seed Rangers face an 8 seed Ottawa team but they went 1-3 against Ottawa in the regular season.

2. Pennsylvanians outside of Happy Valley hate each other when it comes to ice hockey (and politics … but that is a different post).

The Penguins play the Flyers in round 1. And no one needs to be reminded of the hate between these two teams that’s existed for decades. Just in recent history, this will be the third meeting in the last six postseasons between the two. On paper, this matchup is expected to be highly physical and close. Not on paper but on the ice they will probably kill each other.

3. You can practice phonetics.

Nowhere will you find more names with a mixture of little used letters. Ovechkin. Yevgeni. Artyom Voronin. Rafalski. Konasew. Wisniewski. Czerkowski. Pekka Rinne. Pavel Datsyuk.

(I am fairly sure I didn’t make any of those up)


Some real stuff about the Stanley Cup playoffs.

<insert blank space here>


If I knew about the NHL more than the fact Bobby Orr used to play and was on the front cover of Sports Illustrated <that’s how I know> when I was a kid and when I read SI from front to back religiously (no matter what was on the cover) I probably could have written something in that blank space.

But I don’t.

So I included this link in case you want to really know about the ice hockey playoffs. http://rkullman.blogspot.com/2012/04/stanley-cup-and-cheesecake-2012.html


Just in case you need some name to throw around the water cooler at work.

Players to watch: http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/lists/nhl-players-to-watch-in-playoffs-040512#photo-title=Brian+Campbell%252C+Florida+Panthers&photo=30869714


As a bonus.

Some hockey smiles (kind of makes you wonder what mothers think when they send their kids out onto the rink): http://network.yardbarker.com/nhl/article_external/backyard/a_look_at_hockey_smiles/10525517?refmod=backyard

There you go.

Let’s hit the ice because I seriously doubt more than a dozen people (outside of Canada and some foreign country where a player is from … Iceland, Lapland, North Pole, Finland, etc.) will actually watch.

Plus. Ice hockey may be the most literal definition of enlightened conflict.

Written by Bruce