This thought blindsided me like a Rule 48 elbow the other day: we are drowning in hockey bile.
While it is a professional obligation to shoot spitballs at the sport, and, specifically, the NHL, this season has seemed like one unending complaint. Maybe a healthy Sidney Crosby would have brightened the mood. Or not. But as the season lurched into its final week, the pervasive feeling is that everybody has pretty much hated everything (except HBO's 24/7 series on the Penguins and Capitals) in a season rife with carping and caviling about headshots and concussions, lengths of suspensions, southern franchises, shootouts, three-point games, the New York Islanders, Mario Lemieux, outdoor games (that's me, mostly) or fill-in-your-own-blankety-blanks.
The playoffs should offer ablution. They almost always do. Like a Triple Crown candidate wearing blinders, for the next two-plus months, we keep staring straight ahead, enjoying a fierce, fabulous albeit sometimes flawed game.
That's the thing. Like Hal Gill prior to the 2005-06 crackdown on obstruction, hockey grabs us and will not let go.
So maybe for one day we should think about all the things that keep us coming back to hockey, the things that make it a sport worth complaining about, a sort of Stanley Cup as half-full rather than half-empty thing -- to mix our clichés and drinking vessels. This is a list of stuff that I celebrate, something you might try at home after venting at ticky-tack calls, dartboard suspensions, no franchise in Winnipeg or anything else that stokes your anger.
We now resume our regularly scheduled complaining.