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Middle Time Hockey

The Sharks did not make it to six in a row.  The ravenous Devils wanted it more.  I am not surprised, not crushed.  Worcester bailed me out.  They won 5-0, their fifth straight.   Nice shut out for  Daren “Who” Machesney, their next to newest goalie.  So the day was not a complete waste.

I also took comfort in the fact that neither the Sharks nor the Flyers, nor any of their affiliates, have been involved in anything like that NYI-PIT circus.

Rodeo?  I think that gives it too much credit.  I think it was more like a circus, a bad cheap circus that abuses baby elephants circus.  Totally gross.

A lot of people call what happened yesterday on Long Island “Old Time Hockey.”  In the movie Slapshot, Paul Newman’s character also mentioned “Old Time Hockey.”  He didn’t mean what his team was playing.  He meant the hockey before Slapshot hockey.  He meant the skating, puck handling, scoring kind of hockey you could play without body armor.

I think what people call “Old Time Hockey” today must be like Middle English.  People think of Middle English as old, and often forget there was an English before that one, the English that is properly called Old English.  Old English is so old that modern English speakers have to study it like a foreign language.

Luckily, Old Time Hockey is not so far removed from what the NHL does today as to be unrecognizable.  There’s just this middle period of hockey, the hockey that many of us remember from our childhood, if we recall it at all.  The kind of hockey that doesn’t really have a lot of skating or puck handling or cleverness.  The kind of gross brutality that Slapshot rightly identified as farcical and pointless.

So I’ll call that Middle Time Hockey.  The hockey from the days of disco and bell bottoms and Twiggy, the heyday of nudist colonies.  The hockey of my childhood is not Old Time Hockey, it’s just Middle Time.

Along those lines, I would argue that having a long history is better than being brand new, so in this case, the older the better.  That’s a point of honor in the Americas.  As countries, we are a little insecure about our newness to geopolitics.  It makes us defensive, too quick to fight, over eager to prove we are as good as any country with a properly long history.  As countries, those in North America are still a little bit like teenagers.

So I hope that the NHL and hockey fans might one day take comfort in the existence of a history before the 1970s, reclaim their identity by remembering Old Time Hockey instead of letting Middle Time Hockey (aka Slapshot hockey) obscure it.

That fiasco on Long Island, and to a lesser extent the idiocy that was the Bruins-Habs game earlier in the week, those were not Old Time Hockey.   Those harkened back no farther than my own childhood.  And I am not that old.  If that is the extent of your history, you have no history.

Just like that, Justin Bourne chimes in:


Thank you, Mr. Bourne.  Your timing is flawless.


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