Portland's Pirates Go Canine
Before I begin this week’s in-depth analysis of the important issues of the seven days just past, let me confess to a stunning and shameful inadequacy.
I am not a hockey fan.
I pay so little attention to hockey that I get it mixed up with other ice-related sports, such as curling, figure skating, and ice road trucking. But I’m pretty sure hockey isn’t the one where you drill holes in frozen lakes, sit on ice blocks in little shacks and drink heavily until somebody catches a fish or freezes to death.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to develop an interest in hockey. When I lived in Portland, friends and I would regularly attend Maine Mariners and Portland Pirates games. These outings always followed a predictable pattern. During the first period (see, I knew hockey had periods, not quarters), we’d all drink a lot of beer and say things like, “This is great. We should get season tickets.” During the second period, we’d start to lose track of the game (“Touchdown!”), but still agreed that we should all come to at least one game a month. By the third period, we were having trouble staying awake, but pledged to return. Next season. Or the one after that. With a bigger flask, because we ran out of booze during the second inning (Look, home run!”).
I even tried taking in a Pirates game with a genuine hockey expert, somebody who has two satellite dishes as well as cable service just so he’ll never miss a significant game. If hockey ever has a significant game. He explained the finer points of offense and defense; incomprehensible penalties, such as icing, frosting, and frostbiting and how to tell when the game was over (no more fighting).
It was so boring I read Marcel Proust’s collected works just to stay awake.
Even this year, when the Boston Bruins made their thrilling (allegedly) and successful run for the Stanley Cup (named after the guy who found Dr. Livingston, I presume), I watched a game on TV just once, and then only because I was suffering from insomnia.
That cured it. Took less than a quarter.
All of this is to excuse in advance any inadequacies or inaccuracies in my report on this past week’s developments in local hockey. To be honest, I kept hoping some other more significant story might come along that I could write about instead, such as the Legislature adjourning after passing many important bills or the state being invaded by wayward seals or street festivals, speeches, and concerts being held to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1991 state-government shutdown or Gov. Paul LePage saying something stupid or former Gov. Angus King publishing a book about how when he got done being governor he piled his family in a recreational vehicle and traveled across the continent until they were all so bored they wished they were at a hockey game. But if any of those things happened, I didn’t hear about it. So, I’m forced to write about hockey.
As best I can figure it out, the aforementioned Pirates are part of the American Hockey League, which is the top minor league of the National Hockey League, which is often prescribed as a non-narcotic sedative (side effects may include glazed eyes, drooling, speaking with a Canadian accent, and coma).
Each AHL team is affiliated with one or more NHL teams in an arrangement much like parasitic sea lice and farm-raised salmon. For the past three seasons, Portland has been affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres (motto: If You Don’t Think The Concept Of A Buffalo With A Sabre Is Exciting, You Obviously Know Nothing About Hockey), but the new owner of that franchise, deciding he didn’t own enough boring things, also purchased his own AHL team in Rochester, N.Y., so the Pirates needed a new parent club. Thus commenced a frantic search, during which Portland was turned down by Manchester United (“Technically, we’re not a hockey team, but we can understand why you might think so because we play that other mind-numbing sport”), the Los Angeles Dodgers (“We’d love to, but we’re sorta bankrupt and mismanaged”) and a Brazilian luge team (“Different ice sport, dude”).
The situation appeared to be hopeless. Then, as is so often the case in hockey, a couple of goons started fighting, and everybody got distracted.
No, wait, not everyone. Brian Petrovek, the Pirates’ CEO isn’t a guy who lets his attention wander just because two thugs are covering the ice at the Cumberland County Civic Center with blood, bones, and bits of brain. No, Petrovek is no fan of mixed martial arts or NASCAR or Tiger Woods’ domestic life or whatever that fight was about. He’s a hockey man to the core (“Hey, look, that goon just ripped out that other goon’s core”), and while lesser persons wasted their time cheering on gladiators engaged in primitive combat, he persevered in his quest for a new affiliate.
And against all odds, Petrovek succeeded.
On June 27, the Pirates announced they would become the top minor league team for …
the Phoenix Coyotes.
Which would be great news. If the Coyotes weren’t the hockey equivalent of the Dodgers. There are also disturbing indications that Phoenix doesn’t actually have an NHL franchise, and the Coyotes’ name was sold at auction and is currently being shared by a pack of feral canines and a women’s chess team.
On the bright side, watching chess is a lot more interesting than watching hockey.
Although, they both have checking.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com, but he doesn’t want to hear from people who think baseball is more boring than hockey, because those folks are, at best, obviously mistaken and, at worst, may be suffering from a life-threatening imbalance in their medications.