The NHL freezeout finally thawed a few days ago, and like the slow, first drips of a spring melt, hockey writers’ earnest material is starting to trickle out. Breakdowns of the new CBA. Recommendations for how the league can bring back the fans. Wonderings about whether the league is better off as a lesser sports entity. Psychoanalyses of players who might not want to come back to the NHL. Discoveries of a beauty pageant winner’s role in the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots. Something about junior hockey championships. Remembrances of the Great One. I’ve read it all.
I’ve read it all, and it’s all fine, but none of it really satisfies. Just textual workouts over the same old themes. Nothing revelatory or even thought-provoking. None of it, at least, until the last hockey article I read, which might be the last stretch of hockey writing I read until I can get my hands on a commemorative magazine retrospective of my team’s Stanley Cup-winning run.
I don’t care if you call me biased. (Our phone lines are down anyway.) But if you dismiss this piece because I’ve declared my position on the author’s merits and you assume I prejudged the article and was going to like it and highlight it regardless, you’ll miss out on the best bit of post-most-recent-lockout hockey writing and the best swatch of sports writing in recent memory.
Norm Macdonald’s latest article is a short story in two parts– two short stories, really– with some light humor, of course, but more compellingly, real, emotional, suspenseful, rising action conveyed in absolutely compelling fashion with two lovely turns of phrase, one for each part.
I hope I haven’t over-hyped it for you the way that one girl over-hyped Shanghai Knights back in high school. Bring your expectations back to norm(al) levels and click here.