Dear America: Give Hockey a Chance

JJ SSenior Writer IJune 2, 2008

I currently am 19 years old. For the first 18 years of my life, professional hockey was an afterthought.

Blame Bill Wirtz all you want, but when I watched my hometown Blackhawks, I just wasn't interested. There likely was a more exciting baseball, football, basketball, or chess match on somewhere else.

Or so I thought. This year, however, I was enlightened.

I don't claim to have knowledge of hockey. I don't even claim to be a fan of the sport, although I'm starting to come around with the exciting young combination of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane skating at the United Center.

But I know exciting sports action when I see it.

If you want an intense, exciting game to watch, turn on the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They say that nothing is like playoff hockey. I never believed it. Like many Americans, I saw the total number of goals scored by both teams at three and thought "oh, this must be really boring."

If you think that hockey is boring, just watch a game. It's the furthest from boring you can get.

Watching as Marc-Andre Fleury recorded save after save for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night, I found my heart racing, my knuckles white, and my mouth screaming and moaning as I became more and more attached to the Penguins.

Just because there may not be the kind of scoring that takes place in other sports doesn't mean that you should write it off as a "boring" sport.

If you ask me, hockey has the most going on at any one time of any sport. It's the only major pro sport where time is not stopped for substitutions. Teams are always trying to set up or stop an offensive attack.

During the intermission between the second and third overtimes, I took a step back.

I was watching playoff hockey. And I was loving it.

And when Petr Sykora slammed one into the back of the net to send the series to a sixth game in Pittsburgh, I threw my arms up in the air and yelled.

Usually, for me, shouts are reserved for big plays by the Chicago White Sox, Missouri Tigers, and Chicago Bulls.

Not the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL.

It speaks to just how invested I was in this game.

But, I wouldn't have been that invested if the Stanley Cup Playoffs weren't so incredibly exciting.

So, for all you sports fans like me who haven't given the NHL a chance before, I implore you: watch Game Six on Wednesday.

I promise you won't be disappointed.