Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lord Stanley's Beautiful Cup

It's the time of the season for cupping. At the beginning of this past NHL season, I contacted my satellite TV provider and upgraded to the package that would give me OLN, who had replaced ESPN as the network of the NHL in the US. About two weeks into the season, OLN (owned, apparently, by Comcast) upped their fee demands of auxiliary providers. My satellite provider dumped them.

I was more than a little upset.

Gratefully I live in a major market and the local FSN affiliate shows both Kings and Ducks games...sometimes on the same evenings on FSN1 and FSN2. I was in hockey heaven...well...not "heaven" but at least some transcendent reality location. When one of those teams played in the Eastern Conference, I would get a game at 5 and another at 8. Nice. But still not OLN. And definitely not ESPN.

I miss listening to Gary Thorne and Bill Clement call a game together. They are the best US broadcast hockey duo in my opinion.

Well, I got a reprieve. OLN, by some fluke of luck, was reinstated just prior to the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (not called "the postseason" folks...that's for other lame sports). After last night's 3-OT game three in Edmonton, I realized just how lucky I am.

Is there anything better in pro sports than a hockey overtime playoff game? No time outs. No commercial breaks (sorry soccer...the sport has to be exciting to qualify). Guys slugging it out. Retro official calls (as in, we'll let 'the players play'). Sudden death. Oh, and Ottawa-Buffalo games that only offer us 18 seconds of overtime don't qualify either.

Thank you NHL. Thank you Lord Stanley for the greatest trophy in professional sports.

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