Although as of late we’ve been riding the gravy train of awesomeness (Ovi’s 600th goal! The good games we played against Winnipeg and the Islanders!) there’s been so much talk about Holtby’s troubles with his headspace, and Oshie’s drought that makes the Sahara look like the Everglades, and why in God’s name does Djoos keep getting scratched…. I could go on.
As fans, this is what makes sports interesting. I mean, yeah, we like hockey because it’s a fast-paced game that engages people from all walks of life, but we also love to just talk about it. We love to analyze what makes our team work (and what doesn’t…), who’s hot, who’s not, which trade was awful, and why ad infinitum.Heck, in our house lately, date night consists of my husband drinking a bottle of wine after the kids are asleep (I would usually help, but I have two more weeks until this baby is born… then it’s on like Donkey Kong) and then we talk Capitals. We talk about how much we miss Nate Schmidt, and what’s going on with my Holtbae, and what the heck happened when we fell apart against the Ducks. At an all-new high point in our romantic life, while we were celebrating Pi Day (admit it, it’s an excellent premise for a holiday) the husband and I were discussing the weirdness of our Goals Against stats compared to other league leaders. Check them out here.
…Just try not to be jealous of our relationship.
And if you can manage to hear any conversation going on in the seats during a game, you’re gonna hear two different kinds of fans: the Negative Nancy: “Aw, for Pete’s Sake, Trotz! Scratch Orpik already, he sucks!!!” or the Positive Pete: “Come on Oshie! You can do it, buddy!” (Turns to friend) “He just hasn’t been the same since the concussion, but you know, he’s gonna come back. He’s too good not to.”
Anyway, to get to my point: it’s our right as avid fans to examine our beloved team until we’re blue in the face. But we also tend to lose all sense of perspective the deeper we get into analysis mode.
When I was visiting Kettler a few weeks ago, I did my normal routine of watching the boys practice and then hanging around for a few hours to stalk get a chance to talk to a few of the guys and get them to sign some stuff we’d gotten. The husband, kids and I were on a mission: Holtby had tossed a puck to my youngest at a game we went to in Chicago, and Beagle had sweetly handed one to my oldest at a Tampa game back in the fall. Knowing that these two players are just the best when it comes to fan interaction, we had a good chance of getting them to sign these souvenirs.
As luck would have it, we got to say hi to Holtby, Beagle, Stephenson (who is surprisingly normal-sized without gear on), and a delightful Eller. (He was wearing a gorgeous sweater that was as blonde as his eyebrows, and I was practically drooling over his Danish fashion sense.) They all made a real effort to engage my little guys in conversation – mostly ineffectively, thanks to the 6-year-old’s Autism and the 3-year-old’s inherent shyness around his idols – and I just beamed at the joy that their kindness provoked. But then it struck me: Don’t they get sick of fawning fans? Don’t they have those days where they just wanna get in their cars and go home, dammit?
OF COURSE THEY DO. This is what we lose sight of: they are only human. Well, at least mostly. I’m still convinced Ovechkin is some Cold War-era cyborg with Coke running through his veins instead of blood or oil. (After this interview was taken, it was revealed that “changing the oil” = drinking a Coke.
We pay them a ton of money to play a sport. It’s a game. And no matter how seriously we take it, they are just dudes who are very, very good at pushing a puck around with a funny-shaped stick. They have families. They have to pay rent, and get their oil changed. As much as I fan-girl Tom Wilson, he has to do things like brush his (gorgeous) teeth and shampoo that (fabulous) hair. They are human.
So sure… accuse Trotz of inexplicable player choices, and post about how bad our defense is when Orpik plays. But just remember that our guys have bad days, too. Sometimes bad weeks. Oshie probably goes home after practice, cracks open a beer, and says, “Why can’t I freakin find the back of the net!?!”
So cut them some slack. Embrace the suck. Embrace the awesome. Just embrace! (But, maybe, not without asking permission first. I learned that the hard way. Sorry, Holtbae babe.)