NHL Network Radio’s Mick Kern shares 10 things he loves most about the NHL

Cam Atkinson #13 and Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets embrace following Atkinson's shootout winning goal against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 5, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders 3-2 in the shootout.

Here’s a Valentine to the National Hockey League…10 Things I Love Most About the NHL.

  1. ROAD TRIPS – setting out to take in a game at an arena you’ve never been to before is super sweet.  Though many of the arenas may not be all that dissimilar, the experience in every barn is different.  At this point, I’ve only been to 9 of the 30 arenas…but I’m working on it (and 13 current major league ballparks).
  2. HOCKEY ON THE RADIO – baseball also works well when it’s presented in the Theatre of the Mind, but the frenetic pace of hockey is perfectly suited to the radio.  Think of all the great play-by-play guys over the decades, and the best are usually associated with the wireless.
  3. HOCKEY CARDS – specifically O-Pee-Chee cards from the late 1960’s until the early 1990’s.  Way before the internet, and before I knew there were team media guides, these small cardboard treasures were a tantalizing glimpse behind the velvet curtain of the world of hockey.
  4. THE PENALTY BOX – not many other pro sports REMOVE a player from the playing field/surface for an infraction.  “You do that, you go to the box, you know. Two minutes, by yourself, you know and you feel shame, you know. And then you get free”.
  5. THE PLAYOFF HANDSHAKE – for not a lot of money, two teams spend two weeks beating the crap out of each other, and after one of them moves on, both teams meet at centre ice to shake hands.  This isn’t a company softball game, this is the NHL playoffs, yet the tradition thankfully persists.  Unless you’re Gerry Cheevers…which was cool onto itself.
  6. NHL TROPHIES – is there a more impressively glittering collection of trophies than those handed out by the NHL?  And the crowning glory is the Stanley Cup, the perfect championship trophy.  Nothing on the planet comes close.
  7. SPEED – speed kills, Dell.  The Coolest Game on Earth is the fastest game on Earth, if one doesn’t use horses or horsepower.  The first impression for most newcomers to the game is how fast everything is.
  8. GOALTENDERS – only the coolest sports position on the planet, wearing the coolest equipment.  And it’s one constructed to break your heart.
  9. NHL SWEATERS…or jerseys, if you wish.  Other sports can boast of aesthetically pleasing uniforms, but hockey is heads-and-shoulders the most blessed with eye catching jerseys, and team crests.
  10. NEVER SAY DIE – with precious second’s ticking off the clock, and the goalie pulled, everybody stands as the team swarms around the opposition’s net.  Regardless if it’s an early game in October, or a playoff game in spring, the situation never fails to enthrall.  Never give up hope…well, not until the horn sounds.