I gave up drinking beer for Lent. So when I went out for happy hour this week an alternative had to be found, and I went with Stoli-O and soda. It was not nearly as enjoyable as beer, and I drank at a leisurely pace so as not to fall victim to a rarely enjoyed (and stronger) form of alcohol. The vodka was passable. The real fun of the evening, however, came from seeing old friends, telling old stories, and fighting old fights about hockey.
The participants and spectators of the aforementioned argument included two Isle fans (myself included), a devil fan, a ranger fan and several non-combatants. Add alcohol and all the ingredients for an incident that would at some point require attorneys were present. Luckily, it didn't come to that.
The evening started off innocuously enough with talk about upcoming weddings, work, gaming and the dude walking around the bar in a red jester outfit for some sort of promotion. About an hour into the night hockey inevitably became the central point of discussion. Myself, my fellow Isle fan, and our jersey devil fan were debating Scott Stevens. We all agreed that the guy was absolutely killer. A guy that any hockey fan would want on their team. I recalled many times watching the devils in the playoffs and seeing Scott Stevens sitting in the penalty box twitching. "You'd have to be absolutely out of your mind to $#!& with that guy", I said, "if I were an opposing winger, I would have just shot the puck away before he got anywhere near me and played dead". A brief silence followed and was broken when my buddy added "he can't hold a candle to Potvin though."
That's where the unpleasantness began as my devil fan friend seemed to shrug off the comment and was asked immediately "what was that face for?" We proceeded to beat this guy over the head with facts until he abandoned whatever doubts he may have had. Potvin was just as scary to opposing players, if not more so, was in a class of his own while playing point, and was sick with his breakout passes. Stevens had some of this, but not the same offensive prowess, and certainly not the 1052 career points. After all the abuse this poor devil fan took he just smiled and said "I was only trying to give Jim a hard time. I'd put him above Stevens too." If you were wondering where our ranger fan was during this discussion, he was too busy watching the blueshirts play on the hdtv and mingling with the non-hockey crowd. We didn't need him to place Leetch behind Stevens in the pecking order of defensemen anyway.
I told my friend, the devil fan who is getting married next month, "enjoy your honeymoon, it will be the best sex you ever had. Just don't let your wife find out." We all had a good laugh and moved off the topic of hockey as quickly as we arrived on it.
On the train ride home that night, thoughts of DP's hip surgery, the Islander's upcoming 1st round draft pick, and dinner floated around my head. At eleven o'clock I made potato pancakes from Trader Joe's and tried not to wake my wife.
Such is a night in the life of a hockey fan, and I'll drink to that.