Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Back in the saddle 

It's been a while.

Last time I was sitting in this seat, facing the computer, while watching a hockey game with a real rooting interest, was Tuesday, April 20th. That was the day I typed:

Anyone seen Patrick Lalime? I don't think he made the trip to Toronto tonight.
Of course, that was the evening of Game 7 of the most recent Sens-Leafs debacle. I was at my computer in the middle of a crucial game 7 because I just had to avert my eyes. Lalime, of course, for those of you fortunate enough to have forgotten, had just let in a pair of horrific goals, forcing Sens fans everywhere into the fetal position. My reaction, following a blood-curdling primal scream, was to turn my focus elsewhere while keeping an eye out for Miracle on Ice II in the background.

I'm now back in the same seat, final moments of an opening Team Canada World Cup victory on in the background. Having missed the first two periods while playing softball, I don't have much in the way of analysis to offer (Canada's seemed solid in the third), but it's striking how having a real rooting difference makes in the hockey viewing experience. Like most, I watched the rest of the playoffs, post-Sens. I cheered for Brad Richards and the Lightning, I cheered for Jarome Iginla and the Flames. When the two finally met, I was torn between the "Island Boy" and the "Favourite (non-Sens) Player", but mostly went with the "Canadian Team". But in the end, neither team was one of my teams.

Canada is one of my teams. At the exhibition game on Saturday, I got a taste of what was to come. Being at the Corel Centre brought back the occasional flashback of game 6. Seeing Mario Lemieux and Jarome Iginla wearing the maple leaf, conjured memories of Salt Lake.

So, when I sat down for the third period tonight, it was both a relief and a thrill to watch a game that mattered to one of my teams as a fan. And while I know the experience is likely only a temporary reprieve from CBA limbo, it's a reprieve nonetheless.

Carpe Hockey Diem.