hockey or not?

Looking through my older posts, I realize I used to write about hockey before, but recently – not a single post about the favourite Oilers. When I join zoom classes, the first thing my students see is the photograph of the German hockey player Draisaitl on my wall. They immediately assume I love hockey. And it is true! However, recently hockey has not been the same for me.

For some reason, Covid-hockey is less exciting this year, at least in Canada. Instead if 31 teams playing on rotation, we are now playing with 6 teams only. I understand all the restrictions and new rules, but they do take away from the excitement of playing a new team every week. Right now it is like a factory line – we play the same team every 2 weeks. Same players, similar outcomes.

I never watched hockey before coming to Canada. Yes, I am Russian, but I was never into hockey. I had always admired a professional sport in general and athletic performance based on extraordinary physical abilities. When I came to Alberta, I felt the spirit of hockey and started familiarizing myself with the national sport. I began going to hockey games and cheering for my city team. Despite my passion for sport overall, hockey, for me, was always more than just hockey. It was an experience rather than mere technique of getting the puck into the net. I fell in love with the whole experience of dressing into a (bit ugly) orange-blue jersey, seeing how the downtown changes its color if this is the game night, having a whole evening planned around the hockey game, going for salt-and-pepper chicken wings, meeting friends at the game, ordering an over-priced hot dog, hearing the roar of fans in the audience, listening to the anthem, watching the kiss camera, hoping to win 50/50, standing up with the crowd when our team scores the goal, jumping from the seat to catch the free T-shirt, standing in the line for bathroom, slowly following the crowd when existing the building, and remembering the best moments of the game with friends and loved ones. All of these moments made the game.

Right now I still check a game from time to time, but, sadly, I do not feel the same spirit as before. Oilers are doing great, and I cheer for them to make it to the playoffs. It will definitely spice things up even if it means watching their games at home. I do not know what is going to happen with this season or the next one, but I hope every player will be safe and healthy to make a HELL of performance in 2022. Let’s consider Covid-hockey as a temporary pause on the “real” one – a test for mental and physical endurance.

I do want Oilers to make it to this year playoffs. I do not wish Oilers to win the Stanley Cup though. Not like that. Not this year. No Covid-Cup, please.

2022, be ready for us.

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