The NHL: exhilarating and under appreciated

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Ryan Bendersky, Editorial Staff

Whenever I think of ice hockey, my mind goes straight to the sounds: the chick of the hockey stick receiving the puck off of a pinpoint pass, the boooom off of the boards when a shot misses the goal, and of course the brrrrnnt of the goal horn when your favorite team scores. The National Hockey League (NHL) has always taken the backseat in North American sports compared to the likes of football, baseball, and basketball, and I’ve never really understood why. Maybe I am biased since I have been a huge Blues hockey fan my whole life due to my father introducing me to the immensely exciting sport when I was a child. Regardless, I’ve always been amazed by the sport’s fast paced action, physicality, excitement, and many other impressive traits that I simply don’t see off of other sports compared to that of hockey.

One aspect that sets ice hockey apart from other popular North American sports is the nonstop action. There are almost no breaks in the play of a hockey game as television stations only have time to fit in 2-3 commercial breaks in a single period. The game can only be temporarily halted by injuries, penalties, and minor infractions such as offsides, goals, and when the puck goes out of play or is found covered by a goalie for a freeze. Ice hockey is the only major sport in North America that allows player substitutions during gameplay, meaning that once the game gets going there are not many things that will stop it. 

With this in mind, there is almost always something to pay attention to and cheer for during a hockey game. In comparison, football takes a 40 second break after every play, basketball the last 20 seconds of a game could take 15 minutes with all the timeouts, and baseball, we all know why baseball is slow.

Something else that goes unnoticed is the physical intensity of hockey is immense, compared to other popular sports; yes, even football. Besides the hand eye coordination, agility, and nerves required to be a player of this sport, ice hockey a full contact sport played by people who need to be in great physical shape to compete, and all it takes is one well placed hit to send some of its best players crashing down on the cold, hard ice. 

Not only can you hit opposing players down to the ice, the NHL is the only North American sport not designed for fighting where fist fights are frequent and are generally allowed during gameplay. Though it doesn’t really help the score of the match, you must admit that fights are extremely entertaining and will keep you cheering loudly for the player from your team to come out on top. With these facts in mind I’m sure you can recognize the skills and physicality needed to play this sport.

Over everything I can say about the awesomeness of hockey, I think the playoffs are the most convincing part. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are considered to be the most grueling postseason contest of all sports leagues in North America. NFL teams generally must win 3-4 postseason games to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. MLB teams must win 11 to win the World Series. NHL teams must win a total of 16 games before they take the title of Stanley Cup champions; no exceptions. Besides that there are generally less penalties called and games are more intensive, this affects the players making for more fights and hits happening. I am extremely excited to see how well my team, the Blues, will do this year in the playoffs.

So before you tell me how boring ice hockey is compared to every other sport, I would strongly suggest you to sit down and watch just one game. I’m sure you will be surprised by how much you like it!