I’m sorry to disappoint, but no, we did not follow one of your favorite NHL stars for one day during the playoffs. I didn’t spend a concussed day on the couch with Jonathan Toews. Nor did I go to close-combat training with the Pens roster. I didn’t even manage a round of golf with Phil Kessel.
Instead, this is a small peek into the life of one of NotAnotherHockeyBlog’s European writers. It talks about, well… me. And how time zone and culture affect my passion for hockey. Or at least how I express it.
Personally, I suffer from ‘real life syndrome.’ During the regular season, the idea of having to get up for work at 7 wins out over the wish to watch hockey at 1am. Not that I don’t occasionally function on 3 hours of sleep, but I prefer not having to. When I google a team’s schedule, because the internet is smart, it knows where I am and tells me that “all times are Germany time.” So that means, that the times shown are generally between 1 am and 4 am. So I cling to afternoon games.
While I lived in the US, I always disliked them. They messed up my day and I would have much rather had evening games all the time. Now, when I see a 3 pm game on the schedule, I clap and make excited squeaky sounds (it’s lame, but it’s true). I can actually meet people to watch these games. Have dinner and at 9 pm, just like normal people, watch a game of sports and be back home around midnight.
But now, it’s the playoffs. And everything is different during the playoffs. We all know that. Because it’s the Cup. So ‘real life syndrome’ gives way to ‘playoff syndrome*.’
If you live with other people, you might find that they don’t take kindly to you yelling at the TV at the top of your lungs. I’m sure everyone has had that experience. The slightly annoyed ‘it’s just a game, why do you get so worked up’ look.
I’m fortunate enough to live with fairly understanding people (I think they just humor my crazy, but that’s ok), but even the most understanding person doesn’t take kindly to getting woken up in the middle of the night by someone yelling insults. And I can’t even blame them. I tend to get a little worked up during games.
Last year, in the Hawks – Canucks series, I got so angry, I kicked a shoe off my foot and just barely missed the TV. It hit the door with such a satisfying thud though, that I decided to just throw the other shoe after it for good measure. Add to that the yelling and the swearing and you have a colorful sound picture. Great with other fans around. Ok even with people humoring you through the evening. Not so much fun when everyone has to work the next day and it’s just before the wee hours of the morning.
So now I bite my nails and tear at my blanket and sometimes punch my pillow. It’s not nearly as satisfying, but it has to do.
I have a personal schedule for the playoffs. I went to my handy dandy “all times are Germany time” Google calendar and jotted them down in my diary. That itself goes from 8 am to 8 pm every day. In between I’m apparently not supposed to have appointments. But now, amongst tidy lines of 3 pm – dentist and 8 pm – movie with N., I have scribbled notes of 4 am – Hawks vs. Yotes.
If I were a morning person, this might even sound like not too bad of an idea, right? You can get up at 4. To me, this shit’s hard. But still, I’m starting my day at 4 and after the game have a shower and breakfast. It’s not too bad.
Things look a little different for the 1 am games. I usually aim for a pre-game nap between 10 pm and 1 and then follow up with another few hours of sleep after the game (don’t get me started on overtime, that messes up my schedule completely). It works, especially because nobody expects me to be working at full capacity early in the morning anyways. But every night, when the alarm rings at ungodly hours, my inner normal person (the one that thinks sleep is important) and my inner hockey fan (the one that doesn’t need sleep and yells all the time) have a heated debate about our communal sanity.
Needless to say, normal person usually loses. There’s some pouting for the first period, but then we all get together and enjoy the game. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Just, some days (and I’m not gonna name any names), I wish we’d all stayed fast asleep because what we end up watching is either tear-jerkingly disappointing or ulcer-inducingly aggravating. Those nights I contemplate the life of a fan of synchronized swimming.
But I guess everyone feels like that and, apart from the sleep deprivation, my playoff experience is pretty similar to that of everyone on the American continent.
I mean, instead of a TV, I do watch on a computer. A netbook to be exact. Do you know how small the puck is on a netbook? So small in fact, that sometimes I watch the little bits of dirt on my screen for a while before I notice that that’s not actually the puck.
I thank NHL GameCenter Live for their high resolution and all the fancy options they provide. Unfortunately I live on the wop wops street in town. No really, the cable providers told us that if we lived only one block down, we’d have a great connection. We don’t though, so my feed is all grainy and sad. Occasionally the signal picks up and I have a crystal clear image. Each time I have to rub my eyes and stare and then it’s already gone again.
The other day, I had just logged into nhl.com to watch the game, and the website tells me something along the lines of “We’re not streaming this game as it is shown live on TV. Please check your local listings.” Forgive me for not remembering the exact quote, but it was 1:30 am and I had just woken up.
I wish I could say that I just calmly logged off and on again and all was well. In reality, I started with sleepy insults along the lines of ‘Which fucking local TV station???’ and aggressively refreshed the page. Eventually I did log off and on again. That didn’t help at all. I was annoyed that I had missed the anthem. I love the anthem.
I thought, maybe restarting will help (when your technological know-how is as good as mine, restarting is the answer to pretty much everything). Then the computer froze. I spent fifteen minutes yelling at it in my head, occasionally punching my pillow for good measure. Just before the end of the first period (around 2 am) I got things going. I was happy. I was also freaked out that if I so much as changed the comment feed, I would be told to go watch on TV again. I wasn’t. But honestly, I don’t need extra stress during the playoffs. The games are enough.
There are other things though, that really make me wish I lived in a place where more people were into hockey. Especially NHL hockey. I think that generally, I manage quite well to get my friends to at least accept my hockey affinity. I mean, I regularly send out motivational emails including the likes of promo shoots of Patrick Sharp and most recently Henrik Lundqvist’s Sport’s Illustrated cover shoot. It might be shallow, but when you spend your nights by yourself yelling at your computer screen, you grasp at straws to make people believe you’re not crazy.
Still, the other day I tried to describe a guy to a friend of mine. I said “Well, he kinda looks like Patrick Sharp,” expecting (obviously) at least some sort of excited reaction. She just looked at me like what I had actually said was “like Peter, my third cousin twice removed who emigrated to Paraguay.” There was no recognition. At all. I was sad.
Of course, I immediately proceeded to send her pictures because she must have missed out on previous informative emails, but I couldn’t help missing my hockey fan friends. For whom Patrick Sharp is as recognizable as their neighbor. And who would have followed up my comment with a discussion on the Hawks’ recent playoff performance.
*Symptoms are sleep deprivation, sore throat and crazy eyes. It’s mildly contagious, but usually ebbs away by itself after 8 weeks.