Made the Top Ten in Something…

by Steve, October 10th, 2006

hockeyPortland may be looking at the cellar of the WHL’s U.S. Division in this rebuilding year, but we’ve still made somebody’s top ten list. From Terry Frei on ESPN SportsTravel:

Oregon, not Maine.

First, sample one of the game’s most heated rivalries, driving on Interstate 5 to catch barn-to-barn Western Hockey League games between the Winter Hawks and the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The best set this season is February 2 in Portland at the glass palace, Memorial Coliseum, which is where Cam Neely, Glen Wesley and Marian Hossa, among others, played; and where Bill Walton played when he didn’t talk at all, much less so darned much. Stick around after the game as long-time radio voice Dean “Scooter” Vrooman hosts “Hawk Talk” and visits with a Portland player on the ice, with the sound heard both in the arena and on the radio. Then catch the rematch the next night at Seattle.

Eat at Huber’s in Portland, having the turkey and the famous Spanish coffee afterwards. Dine at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle, but be sure you allow enough time because of the gridlock traffic and take great care not to get on the Lake Washington bridge accidentally because there’s no turning back for miles.

There also is a slight chance it could be raining, so take an umbrella. And don’t let it bother you that you’re pretty much watching a bunch of Canadian teenagers playing under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella.

If you want to extend the trip, you could follow the Hawks to Kelowna, Prince George, and Kamloops, all in British Columbia.

Smelly Stinky Hockey Gear

by Steve, October 10th, 2006

HockeyAnybody who’s ever played hockey (or lived with someone who does) knows there is a special stink that grows on hockey gear after just a couple uses. It is unlike any stink in sports. Why’s it so bad? Well, consider the environment: cool, damp and sweaty as hell. Hockey pads being what they are (lots of foam rubber sewn into layers of synthetic fabric and plastic), the gear never fully dries out if you play regularly. I think you’re getting the picture.

So when the Everett Silvertips announced free admission for fans dressed in full hockey gear, there were some raised eyebrows on the WHL e-mail forum. And the Everett quips started pretty quickly. “I think I’d rather pay the $10 than have to show up with all that stinky gear on. Then again, most Everett fans smell pretty bad anyway so maybe this is a real deal for them,” snarked on Portland fan. “Perhaps they can get some of these participants to drink 8-10 beers as well…Everett Silvertips …’our fans act as bad as they smell’,” suggested another list contributor.

Now, I’m reading these comments, feeling like there’s just something…. well, more weird than meets the eye. The next comment jarred my memory: “They left off the part about how after the game the participating fans will be loaded onto a bus and taken for a four hour drive by Kevin Constantine.”

Constantine, the head coach and general manager of the Silvertips, was fined $5000 and suspended four games in September after he forced his team to ride the bus home in their full game gear after a pre-season loss.

So either the folks in the Silvertips’ front office are having some fun with this, or the joke’s on them. Not sure which, but it gave me a good chuckle. What’s really funny is the list of gear that’s required to get in with “no exceptions”(!):

Hockey Helmet
Shoulder Pads
Elbow Pads
Hockey Pants
Hockey Shin Pads
Hockey Socks
Favorite Hockey Jersey
Gloves are optional
(No Sticks or Skates Allowed)

If they catch you with a jersey that’s not your favorite, you will be ejected.