Jewish World Review Oct. 16, 2002 / 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Hockey Therapy | Through a bizarre chain of circumstances I found myself at home one recent Saturday, twiddling my thumbs, nursing beers, at loose ends, and gazing wistfully at the telephone.

Finally I decided to take my fate in my own hands. With firm resolve I picked up the newspaper, and determined to find out once and for all what exactly was going to be on teevee that night.

As luck would have it, THUNDERBALL was on. I love James Bond movies, even the terrible ones. I had nachos. I had beer. I was all set.

But when I turned the set on at night, James Bond was nowhere to be found. Instead, a hockey game was being played-- the bitter struggle between Detroit and South Carolina for the Stanley Cup, as it turned out.

Being too lazy to switch channels, I watched it for awhile. Some guy named Brendan Shanahan, who played for one team or the other, hit the puck (which I was informed by the commentator was right in his wheelhouse), but it bounced off the side of the cage, and he didn't score.

Eventually, the game went into triple overtime. It was quite exciting, like basketball, only it's really hard to make a basket, and you have to break another player's bone or two before you qualify for a foul.

Anyway, the camera showed Shanahan on the bench after his failed attempt to score, and the commentator commentated on how disappointed Shanahan must be at that moment, and it would take a while for him to achieve "emotional recovery."

Well, I darn near did a spit take with my Heinie. Emotional recovery? Hockey players? I always thought that hockey players were crusty quick kind of mean sonofaguns who'd just as soon put a puck between your eyes as look at you, and expected the same in return.

Maybe hockey has become kinder and gentler since my youth, when it was mainly played by grunting toothless men with nicknames like Wolverine and Mad Dog, but I have a hunch that it is still a sport that doesn't require counseling, group hugs, weeping, or even a simple condolence.

Has therapy-speak infected even hockey, the most testosterone-heavy athletic competition there is? What's next? Hugging El Toro in a bullfight before you stick the lances in his flanks? Sitting cross-legged and meditating before a heavyweight boxing match?

Mike Tyson even congratulated Lewis on winning! He acted like a good sport! This is crazy! It's a sign of the final days!

Not only that, with triple overtime, ABC never did air THUNDERBALL. It was a bitter disappointment, believe you me. I'm still recovering. Emotionally.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales