I saw a joke the other day on the internet; a bar graph titled: WHEN AN ATHEIST BELIEVES IN GOD. And it showed bars with various categories like: in an argument, running late to work, didn't study, etc... with various percentages. The only category with 100% was 'Watching a Sporting Event'...
I feel like, as far as jokes go, this couldn't be truer.
I won't get into my beliefs, but I spent the third period and overtime in a car on the way home from Easter dinner, with my hands folded and my eyes closed, listening to the game.. and then Scotty Hartnell scored.
I've never wholly given myself up to anyone, or anything like I have the Philadelphia Flyers. I've laughed and cried with this team. I've breathed and choked with this team. I've lived and died so many times over the years with this team.
The 1996 Eastern Conference Finals were the first games I have entire recollections of. And since then, emblazoned in my head are visions of teams that were good, but not good enough:
--the 1997 finals team
--Keith Primeau scoring in the 5th overtime of game four against Pittsburgh in 2000
--Eric Lindros being "cleanly" laid out by Scott Stevens that same year
--Roman Cechmanek's choke job against Ottawa a few years later
--the 2003 ECF team (still, in my opinion, the deepest team of the modern era. argue with me. do it.)
--the first team back from the lockout (no one seems to remember how dominant that team was during the first half)
--the team that Marty Biron came and took from obscurity to a Cinderella run in April, only to lose to the Penguins in 6.
--LAST YEAR'S TEAM.
--this year's team.
Except every one of those team's was good enough. (Especially last year's team.) This year's squad is weaker, but only slightly, and that doesn't mean they're not good enough. They are, the entire first half of the season taught us that. I joke that nothing matters because in two-three years, Joacim Ericksson will be playing pro hockey and we'll be set and guaranteed a playoff spot for the next 10-395 years. (he's that good.)
I still believe that, but I still also believe in this team.
This one. Not next year's team, or the year after that. I believe in this year's team.
Because I've seen them play at their potential. Because I've seen them come back from debilitating deficits. Because I've seen them drop 7 goals. Because I've seen them ALMOST get shutouts. I believe in them because I know what they're capable of (powerplays be damned.)
I believe in Richie and Carts and Danny B.
I believe in Noodle and JVR and Harts.
I believe in Steeger and Roo and Ville (Hipster though he may be.)
I believe in Blair Betts and Car-Bomb and Lappy (although he's in the press box.)
I believe in Prongs and Carle and Timmo.
I believe in Cobie and OD and Mesz (and his ungodly shot).
I believe in Bouch (or boosh.) and Leights and Bobs.
I believe in this team. This entire team. Regardless of who's on the ice, and regardless of who's between the pipes.
And probably, more than any of the aforementioned names, I believe in Peter Laviolette.
Deficits don't scare me anymore because I believe Lavy is going to work his magic and fix everything with an emotional speech like he's shown time and time again he is capable of.
It's basically what we pay him for. That...
and his bangin' orange ties.
We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death.. Life is just a place where we spend time between games.