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Just a Game?

July 12, 2019, 8:43 PM ET [128 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It was lunch hour on Wednesday I think when I heard two women talking about THE show of the summer and singing the praises of one of those atrocious reality TV shows. Turns out that Tuesday was the season premiere of Love Island on CTV and they thought it was (and I quote): "just amazing!". Personally, I saw 5 minutes of it and I just couldn't believe anyone would want to subject themselves to such boredom. Clearly my face was telling as one of the two asked me: "What did you think of it Karine?" For half a second I thought: Oh just got along with it...But I just couldn't. So I said: "I thought it was utter crap and quite frankly, TV in the summer is boring as can be and I really miss hockey". Then came the mother of all eye rolls and one of them said: "How can you miss hockey? It's just a silly game!". Riiiiiight and your so called "reality" TV show is not? That annoying 3 minute long conversation got me thinking about how much more than a game hockey is...Not only is it unscripted live action but if you truly care, it can take you on an incredible rollercoaster of emotions.

For us puck fans, the unscripted drama that unfolds all season long on this beautiful clean sheet of ice (for the first minute of the game or so) matters. Case in point, is anyone here capable of watching Joe Sakic receiving the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman, not hoisting it but passing it straight to Raymond Bourque without getting goosebumps? A moment 22 years in the making, one of the greatest d-man of all-time who bled black and gold but wanted to capture the Cup so much that he had to move to Colorado to follow his dream. When Raymond Bourque finally got to raise the ultimate price in hockey, I'm not ashamed to admit that not only did I get goosebumps but it also brought tears to my eyes...And I'll bet that the Bruins' faithful were also elated for their former captain and franchise icon. It's fair to say that the hockey world fully got on board with the Avs' Mission 16W and it felt like a wrong had been righted the night 77 got his biggest win.

There's plenty of other hockey tear jerkers out there...Remember 2001? Before the season was even started the Journal de Montréal (or Québec) shook the province reporting that the Canadiens' beloved number 11 had been diagnosed with cancer. I don't think I'll ever forget that morning, getting up as per usual, walking to the kitchen and grabbing the paper that my dad always left behind when he left for work so that I could read the sports pages. I had to read the headline twice to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Of course, we don't really know the players but we spend so much time watching them, analyzing their play and even criticizing them that whether we want it or not, they kind of become part of the family. As well as I remember that morning though, it doesn't come close emotions wise to what I felt on April 9th 2002... I wasn't at the Bell Centre when Koivu got back on the ice that night but I was watching and listening intently... What a beautiful ovation the home crowd gave him, what a great job the broadcaster did to show us Koivu's reaction to the fantastic love declaration he received from the fans that night and that is now part of the NHL Classic moments.

There weren't only happy endings though...remember how shocked the Bell Centre crowd was when Chara rammed Max Pacioretty into the boards? For me that's right up there in the "most worrying moments in hockey ever" list. I was watching that game at home with my dad and while we've done more than our fair share of screaming at the TV since we started watching hockey together back in 1986, we were speechless in that moment. We couldn't quite believe what had just happened and how Max Pac had fell on the ice and remained motionless for so long...

But I don't think any injury ever shocked and shook me as much as the Clint Malarchuk's slit throat incident. I was 9 at the time and I can honestly say I had nightmares about it. That's when I first realized how real hockey was and how the players were really putting everything on the line. If you've never seen it, be forewarned that this is not pretty video...

If you haven't read what he wrote on the Players' Tribune about a year ago, you really should check it out here: Bleeding Out

Can anyone talk about emotions in hockey without mentioning the last game at the Forum though? Who doesn't remember that standing ovation the famous Rocket got from Habs nation? That right there was a real piece of TV gold:

Which brings me back to my point, how can anybody out there say that this is just a game? The networks can try all they want but they'll never come up with a reality TV Show which is a real as this. Never. Bottom line, the star wannabes that go on these shows are playing a game for sure and no one will get me to agree that any of it is real. The women in the lunch room might have thought I was weird but I'm fairly sure that most of you understand where I'm coming from here and that's all I need...
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