April 18, 2011

Now is NHL Playoff Time, Enjoy You 15 …

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If I were to ask you what time of year it is right now, what would you say? Maybe you would say spring, or drawing near to the end of the semester, or a variety of other things.But if I were to ask you what time of year it was in the sports world, you would refine your answer. There’s a decently good chance you would answer baseball season or NBA playoff season. But for some of us — even those of us who follow baseball and basketball — this time of year is something more: NHL Playoff season.For fans from 16 lucky cities, the battle for Le Cupe de Stanley has begun once again. While hockey may not be ESPN’s most popular, those who do profess themselves hockey lovers are not kidding around.Just take a look around campus and if you notice some of your guy friends looking hairier than usual, it could be because they are growing the ever-prominent playoff beard. Even my brother, who at 15 barely has facial hair, has declared he is not shaving until the Rangers lose (and another few months of mourning ensue). Now while I may not be the most qualified to talk on this subject, my daringly handsome editor has practically begged me to write a column … so here it is.Coming from New York, people are quick to write me off as a spoiled Yankee fan — too familiar with championship victories to really know how special it is to win. As soon as I mention that I am also a Rangers fan, they usually apologize and change their minds.It’s not that the Rangers are a bad team. It’s just that they are not the Yankees. I have heard people say, “The Yankees never disappoint.” And although I love the Rangers and always will, the same can’t be said for them. Ask any Ranger fan just a few years older than me, who had to wait 54 long years for the Rangers’ fourth championship. I was only two years old at the time, but the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals are such a big deal in my family that I have seen the highlights enough times to practically quote the announcers. Messier, Graves, Leech and Richter are names tossed around my house so frequently you would think they are related to us.Before getting too far off track … the point is, unless you’re the Canadiens (or maybe the Leafs or the Red Wings), when you win a cup, you remember. The road to the Holy Grail is never an easy one, and even if you are a Canadiens fan, you remember the last time your team got there like it was yesterday. *Remember Canadiens spelled with an ‘E’ not an ‘A’.So every year, fans get excited and nervous all over again, thinking this could be the year because anything can happen, but that goes both ways as a friend of mine so kindly reminded me the other day. “Remember, this could be the last time the Rangers make it to the playoffs for a while,” he said to me — probably just bitter that his Colorado team did not make the cut this year. But his point is valid, as I remember the acidic disappointment I felt last year when the Rangers fell just a few points short of a playoff spot. And unfortunately, the disappointment does not end there. Not that I feel any sympathy, but I can imagine that Capitals fans feel that the Alexander Ovechkin Era should bring the franchise’s first Cup to D.C. So far, it has not, and I am praying as hard as I can that it won’t this year either.  Even the Blackhawks, last year’s championship team, are struggling to stay alive as they go into game four without a win so far. (That was my obligatory Blackhawks reference for my favorite girl at Cornell to chat hockey with — don’t count ’em out yet!).  For seven out of sixteen teams in the playoffs this year, this could be the first time in franchise history that they etch their name into Lord Stanley’s Cup. Even as someone who was reluctant to write a column, I can go on all day because for my 10-15 friends that care, this is the time of year we have been waiting for. And while the rest of my fellow Yankee fans have already started tweeting about happenings in The Bronx or the easily irritated start to count the Rangers out for being down in the series 2-1, the 15 of us will keep Facebooking, emailing, bbming, texting and screaming about the NHL, doing anything we can to share our passion.#NHLPlayoffs may never be a trending topic, but for us it’s a way of life. So every year, we continue to hope and pray and scream and cry, and despite the outcome, we still love it.To quote the commissoner of the NHL: “Don’t give up on the game. It’s too good.”Hey, give Gary Bettman some credit, if for no other reason than that he is a Cornell alum. (Yeahhhh ILR)And even if I have to wait another 54 years, I will never give up on the Broadway Blues.

Original Author: Dani Abada