Hockey Week: Pretty Much Everyone Looks Silly By This Point

Happier times.
Happier times.
Mike Mezuel

Here's another thing I like about hockey.

We've all seen in sports that moment when a highly trained athlete is made to look like a 5-year-old who just made the sort of mistake a 5-year-old might make. It's one of the reasons we keep watching sports. These incredible athletes, these one-in-a-million specimens, will now and again actually seem to be a helpless, flailing individual, committing the sort of mistake you'd be angry about if it happened to your teammate on your casual weekend amateur team.

Think about it. Growing up, these guys were the best in every age group in their town. They dominated every practice, their youth teams conquered entire states, and they rode from success to success on a wave of hype until they hit the big time. Professional sports. Paid millions of dollars to play a game most people would play for free, they've got the perfect combination of genetics, talent and application that makes them a perfect fit for playing their sport to the very highest level that sport can be played at.

Sometimes, though, there's a huge leveler. Train as much as you want, you'll still panic, and when you panic you'll make mistakes. Or you might just switch off. It's at this exact moment that all those years, decades even, of success, completely abandon you and you become just another schmuck in a brightly colored shirt, staring on in horror as your very actions lead to disaster in front of thousands of people who paid to watch you not fuck up.

There's never been a leveler quite like hockey. It's just so much more difficult to have any semblance of control over a hockey game. The puck is minuscule compared with the object of desire in any sport, and it's on ice, and you're standing on a thin piece of metal waving a stick around. Every single player on the ice will make a series of mistakes every game. They'll swing through the puck and miss, or hit the ice, because hey, it's a tiny circle of rubber on freakin' ice. They'll just straight up fall over. They'll let the puck pass them. They'll lose track of it. They'll start to skate in one direction and then realize they need to be back in the other direction several seconds ago, but now they and momentum have a problem with each other. If players in any other sport made as many mistakes per game as hockey players do, they would all be out of jobs.

Thus, hockey is the sport where you get to see the largest number of highly trained super athletes look like normal, everyday idiots. It's worth reminding ourselves that if we were to venture out onto the ice, of course, we would look in comparison less like normal every day idiots and more like this kind of half-human thing that had been wheeled out onto the ice for everyone's sick amusement.

Unfortunately, there's a reason for this rambling intro. Right now, mistakes in Dallas hockey are high. There's a lot of falling over. There are a lot of pucks going places we don't want them to go. And there are a lot of people who were excited about the Stars this season looking silly right now. The defense is the worst, goals conceded-wise, in all of hockey. Ten of the last 12 games have been lost. Many people had the excuse that the Stars had the toughest schedule of all so far this season, but those excuses went out the window when the Stars conceded four goals in one period in their own stadium to the Carolina Hurricanes and got booed off the ice.

I feel quite at home with this recent turn of events. Although I might have been excited to support a team with ability and the potential to win matches regularly, losing in soul-crushing circumstances all the time reminds me exactly of supporting my boys, Watford FC, still trophyless after nearly 140 years of playing soccer. The half-empty stadium, the booing, hell I even have a son to console now, the same way my father used to console me when our left-back somehow managed to head the ball into his own net in injury time. I wouldn't change a thing. Whether the Stars suck or succeed, I'll be there all the time anyway. Long live ice hockey.


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