Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Intro to Swedish Hockey

I went to a hockey game with CBCC on Saturday. It was amazing. We had a good old time and learned a little bit more about the Swedish ice hockey culture. Which is very different than what we always saw back in the US, it was an adventure, and even a little educational. In a cultural sport sort of way.

The fans were nuts. There were only about 7,000 people at the arena. Which was almost a full house. But they were a rowdy 7,000 people. It was incredible, pretty cool, and kind of creepy at times. A whole section of fans seemed to be some sort of fan support club. CBCC dubbed them the hockey hooligans. Anyway, this group of fans chanted throughout the game. Not just cheering or the occasional "Red Wings Suck!" chant, they chanted for the whole game. Made hand gestures to go with the chants. And everyone knew them. There were even little kids emulating the chants. Incredible. Very cool, but somewhat frightening. The power of the mob is amazing.

The marketing environment surrounding hockey was interesting as well. Instead of packing the arena with seats so that people could be smashed up against the glass there was quite a bit of room between the rink and the fans, and that allowed for a ring of sponsor ads. It seems that sponsorship and ad revenue is more important than the number of fans in the building. Of course, considering the game was almost sold out I suppose the argument could be made that they were doing it the right way and just squeezing a little bit more money out of the empty space. But I say put some seats there and then jack up the price so people can sit right next to the glass. That’s an experience that’s hard to replicate when a big hairy defenseman checks another big hairy forward into the glass and all that separates you from his smooshed face is a little bit of plexiglass.

The actual hockey was really good. Very high level of play and just a hell of a show. There was even a penalty shot, which is by far the most exciting moment in all of sports. Nothing can compare. The entire arena is absolutely enthralled by the one-on-one battle unfolding. Time stands still, or at least the game clock does, and in the blink of an eye the game can be completely different than it was just a few seconds before.

The goalie takes a few strides out towards the skater as the skater comes fullbore with some idea of what he’s going to do, but not really sure. He reads the goalie to see if he gives any opening, a tell if you will, and then he pops that shot off. Sometimes it’s just too easy for the goalie, and he snags the puck, and skates off in that badass way. Sometimes, the skater makes it look too easy and the goalie lies on his ass embarrassed to get up as the skater strides away a hero. And sometimes the most painful noise in sports can be heard ringing through the arena. The crossbar. I’ve seen no-hitters go into the 7th inning, I’ve seen basketball buzzer beaters, last minute drives in football, but nothing compares to a penalty shot in ice hockey.

Man, I love sports.

21 comments:

  1. A nicely told story! Didn't matter even if the team names and the final result weren't there. :)

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  2. You caught me! It was Djurgården vs Modo. DIF won 4-1.

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  3. it's hard to say whether smek was being ironic or what! LOL. we three should all meet one day and watch some kick ass hockey match!

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  4. It was both, with and without irony. I'm good at ironing :)

    We can turn on the telly at the same time, watch the hockey match and write in our blogs about it. I'm sure we'd all have quite different stories to tell!

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  5. That's a good idea Smek. Problem is I don't have any TV! Maybe I'll just go to a sports pub with some friends.

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  6. The idea came from you, Mogli, initially, so you were basically congratulating yourself :)

    If there is a good match coming on TV, suggest one. Usually I don't watch hockey except for the big games. We could have the same title all of us to confuse all the readers, including us!

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  7. This could be some sort of glorious blogging experiment.

    I'm down for live or televised hockey though! I'm a simple man really.

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  8. Agreed! Let's then pick the upcoming Frölunda - Djurgården match on Dec 3, that is Monday next week at 1900 HRS.
    This is going to be a highly charged match as the Indians only have 2 points ahead of DIF to be in the same ranking. I'll see if I get a cheap ticket (maybe too late now) so I can watch it live at Scandinavium, otherwise the good ol' Learys sports pub will do.

    Now, someone please come up with the common title of our blog entries!

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  9. Suits me! If I come up with a title, it has a quote from music or films, which may not be the best-fitting one. If HairySwede finds the title, it will begin with 'Sweden is... ' which is far better a choice. Mogli's titles can be basically anything, so I'm all ears for the title. Only if you can't think of anything (which I doubt), I'll think of something.

    The game's date and time fits my calendar well, is there any specific channel that broadcasts it? If there is, I can find it if it's in my cable channels... Is it ok with you, H.S.?

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  10. THat would work... my only concern is that I can't find it listed on any of the TV channels programs for Monday. Is it televised?

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  11. Is it, Mogli? I thought to bet on the result to make it even more interesting. That is, if we all can see the game...

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  12. If that particular game isn't televised, we must choose another one...

    Here's a suggestion for a title: A global study on a local game.
    You can do better than that, but if you won't, let's use this :)

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  13. So I've been scouring the tv guides and can't seem to find anyc hannel thats hows the game. Or any hockey game for that matter.

    I like the title! Heres my suggestion: A Global Perspective on a Local Game though instead of study. I just cahnged study to perspective. Study just sounds like we are much too academic and official.

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  14. Hear hear! Improvement in title. Now all we need is a game to watch :) Channel 4 sport shows hockey today I guess, but not that game Mogli suggested.

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  15. Hej guys! Sorry for the late reply. I forgot that these games in the elite hockey series are shown usually as pay-per-view in cable networks. Which match is this Smek? The blog title is fine with me though it sounds too formal.

    How about "Three Sides of A Coin" Or "It Takes Three to Tango" or simply, "Threesome: With The Hairy Swede and Smek This" (in my case).

    -mogli

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  16. Sorry, it was 'innebandy'. It was also 'elitserien' so I didn't take a good enough look at it. Please find a 'real' hockey match for us :)

    When it comes to a title, I knew you can do better than I. Any of your suggestions will do. I'd say either formal Hairy Swede's or Three sides of a coin. The rest of Mogli's were a bit sexual-flavored. TIC, of course, but still...

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  17. I'm good with Three Sides of a Coin. Now we just need a game to watch. I feel like TV4 Sport has a hockey night each week. I'll look into it and see what I can find.

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  18. Please notify us in our blogs. This is pretty hard to follow since it's so passe by now...

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  19. AIK är bäst!!!

    AIK is the best!!!!

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  20. just as long as the Red Wings suck.

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