The Birth of Super Crip is now available!
Click here to get it in paperback or on Kindle.

I’ve been blogging about sports and more again at I hope you’ll give it a try. Thanks!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lousy Ending Hurts More Than the Flyers

Once again, the last goal said it all.

I’m one of those guys that starts paying attention to hockey when the playoffs or the Olympics roll around. Believe me, I’d like to watch it more often, be a true fan. I’m a long-suffering Sixers fan. Anything that would offset the drek that has passed for professional basketball in this town would be more than welcome.

But I just can’t commit to it.

I recently heard the argument that hockey has the elements to make it a popular sport in the United States – speed, hitting, even up and down action. It’s tough to differ with that. In fact, I started to believe that sports fans could even adjust to the rules that seem a bit odd and the fact that the stars only play about a third of the game.

Then it happened. A great series with the hometown Flyers stretching the seemingly dominant Chicago Blackhawks to overtime in Game 6 after coming back yet again in the game and the series, building to a crescendo that was going to break the heart of one city or the other . . .

And like the ending of The Sopranos, everybody was left wondering what the hell happened.

It was over, and nobody knew it. Your television screen may as well have gone black like it did when Tony Soprano said goodbye. Did he get whacked or not? I think he did, but we aren’t really supposed to know. In television, that’s supposed to be artistic.

In sports, it doesn’t work. Or, I should say, it works even less.

When a championship series in a major sport ends on a final shot, we’re supposed to know it – without a replay. It’s supposed to be a classic moment that lives on in the sports lore forever.

Instead when Patrick Kane put the puck past Michael Leighton to win it all, most people watching, if not everyone watching, thought the puck was sliding around the boards. And it wasn’t just the fans. The referees didn’t know it was over. The other players didn’t know. The television announcers didn’t know. I’m not even convinced Kane knew – he basically shot the puck parallel to the goal and wasn’t celebrating until he got to about center ice.

Worse, this isn’t exactly a fluky thing for hockey. Kane’s goal was reminiscent of the score by Sidney Crosby that gave Canada the gold medal in this year’s Winter Olympics. That took some time before we knew it went in, too.

In fact, the Stanley Cup officially ended after the officials verified Kane’s goal on replay. Can’t wait to see that game on ESPN Classic someday. I can hear the commentary now, “And five minutes later, it was really over.”

John Facenda describing Joe Montana to Dwight Clark it ain’t. And that wasn’t even the Super Bowl.

No comments: