Volume 1, Number 2 -- September, 1996

The Professor - A Hockey Commentary

The best hockey players from the greatest hockey nation in the world showed up at the San Jose Arena Wednesday night and dazzled the sellout crowd enroute to a 7-5 win over the Canadian National Team.

Well, OK, so maybe I'm over-reacting here. Maybe Canada is not quite ready to pass the torch of hockey dominance to their admittedly self-absorbed neighbors to the South. This is, after all, only an exhibition and therefore not really a fair indicator of who's who and what's what in the world of hockey, right?

WRONG! Listen, this was supposed to be Canada's ice-bound version of the Dream Team, and we all know what would have happened if our Dream Team had lost a game, even an exhibition game. We're talking national pride here! Don't tell me that all over Canada right now there aren't a helluva lot of calendars with August 31 circled in bright red. That's when these two teams meet again, only this time its for real. Unlike Wednesday night's game, which was your typical meaningless, lackadaisical, ho-hum exhibition game featuring only a dozen or so major skirmishes and a few all-out brawls. You think this game didn't mean anything? Just ask the USA's Keith Tkachuk, who had the importance of the game rather clearly explained to him by Canada's Brendan Shanahan late in the third period with the USA up 6-3. Or Bill Guerin, who was having a similar exchange of views with Canada's Keith Primeau at the exact same time when Claude Lemieux interjected his opinion in the small of Guerin's back. (Coincidentally, Lemieux also happens to be the NHL teammate of Guerin, a fact which apparently has been set to the side in the interest of national pride.)

All national rivalries aside, one thing this game points out is the gains that have been made in hockey over the past ten years. Hockey is more popular than ever in the US and is even beginning to eat into the fan base of it's chief American rival, football.

Why only football and not, say baseball or basketball? Simple, baseball is a summer sport and therefore does not compete directly with Hockey for fans while basketball sucks.

OK, so maybe that's not entirely fair. Basketball is wonderful sport as long as you're a seven-foot pituitary freak who loves to jam a ball through a hoop and pose. Face it, hockey will never eat into basketball's fan base because, for the most part, hockey fans are not basketball fans and basketball fans are not hockey fans.

So how does hockey stack up against the American competition? Let's break it down category-by-category.




a puck pigskin. Football - ever try to spike a puck?
"third man in" rule. bench-clearing brawls. Hockey - nothing like a man-to-man slugfest
icing. intentional grounding Tie - both sound silly
a penalty box penalty flags Hockey - actually I'd like to see football use this
the Stanley Cup the Superbowl Football - Superbowl Sunday, the holiest day of the year
goals touchdowns Hockey - at least every goal isn't followed by the Solid Gold Dancers' reunion tour
SJ Sharkie cheerleaders Football - no contest
zamboni marching bands Hockey - there is an almost zen-like quality to zambonis
Canadiens' fans Bronco fans Football - when I see drunken hockey fans parading around half-naked in a blizzard I may change my vote
pampered millionaires pampered mega-millionaires Hockey - but hockey is on it's way
labor strife labor strife Tie
power plays two minute drills Football - football doesn't have to remove a defensive player to make it interesting
the all-star break Thanksgiving games Football - sorry, but there is no greater sporting joy than to eat turkey until the chair gives way beneath you, then roll into the living room and watch six hours of football
So the final tally is...let's see...aha! Football wins, 6-5 with 2 ties. Bear in mind, this is a totally unscientific survey and the Professor understands that, under different circumstances and different interpretations, football could well have beaten hockey even worse.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]