It’s been an eventful past few days, eh? Martin Luther King, Jr. Day came and went… President Obama took the oath of office, kicking off his second term… the Ravens and 49ers won their respective conference championship games, thereby setting up the first-ever brother-vs-brother Super Bowl coaching matchup… lots to digest.
Amid all that excitement, it would have been easy to miss a development that’s just as momentous in certain circles — hockey is back! There were, like, actual games this weekend! The NHL’s 4-month labor dispute is finally over, meaning the players have gotten back to doing what they do best: skating around with sticks, flinging a stubby, rubber cylinder back and forth while collecting icing penalties, which are far and away the most delicious infractions in all of sports.
“Wait a minute. You’re not a hockey fan. Why do you care that it’s back?”
Fair point. I don’t actually follow hockey. I should, given that I grew up playing street hockey and going to Hampton Roads Admirals games and live relatively close to a franchise city… but I don’t. But that doesn’t mean my enthusiasm about the sport’s return from the brink of another dark ages is insincere; I’m genuinely happy for all you hockey fans out there. That’s because, a little more than a year ago, I was in your shoes. My beloved NBA had its own lockout, barely managing to sneak in a shortened season that started on Christmas Day. As silly as it may seem, I was seriously bummed about it at the time, and I can tell that the hockey fans I know were going through the same turmoil, with the added insult that this would have been the second time the NHL canceled an entire season inside of 10 years. Ouch.
Thankfully, that didn’t come to pass, and I’d like to offer up a song in celebration. It’s by a Canadian musician named John K. Samson, and it’s called… wait for it…
(I’ve also seen it listed as “Petition,” but we’re gonna go with the fun title.)
It’s a song, a petition nominating Reggie Leach – aka “The Riverton Rifle” – for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a URL pointing to an online version of that petition, all wrapped in one neat little package. Like a Russian nesting doll. Or a Swiss Army Knife. Or maybe a piece of Ikea furniture that starts as one thing, converts to another thing, and then folds up for convenient storage. Best of all? It’s a fantastic lower-case-f folk song, telling the story of a hometown hero in the voice of someone who was there to witness his heroics firsthand. Listening to it warms my heart, which is good because even thinking about hockey makes me cold. Did I mention I grew up in Hampton Roads, VA?
Listen to Samson’s petition below, and don’t stop there — his Provincial album is great from start to finish, so please do check that out as well.
And go Caps! Or whoever!