Hockey truly is the best sport. Just ask any fan of the sport and they will tell you without hesitation that it is absolutely the best hands-down. Why is there so much passion for the game among its fans? Here are a few reasons I think are widely held by hockey enthusiasts everywhere.
Not to go all sensitive here, but there is an artistry in hockey that is truly remarkable. Skating in and of itself requires a great deal of skill, balance and coordination. Add to it the speed, sharp turns, hits and controlling a round rubber puck and it comes together like no other sport.
When will people realize that hockey is the best sport?
— O O OH O’REILLY’S AUTO PARTS (@BIGASSBLUESFAN) July 6, 2015
I tried to roller skate once and got run over by a bunch of eight-year old kids. It wasn’t pretty. I cannot imagine the ability that is required by hockey players to fly down the ice while focusing on the puck, aggressive defenders and their own teammates.
According to exploratorium.edu NHL players can reach speeds in excess of 20 miles (32 km) per hour on the ice. That is amazing in my opinion, and adds to the wow factor that makes up the artistry of the game. Watching a player like T.J. Oshie waltz through the San Jose Sharks in the second goal of this hat trick is a great example:
Scoring a goal in hockey is not easy. Players are trying to get the puck into a space that is 72 inches wide and 48 inches tall. Add to that the presence of not only exceptional goalies, but other players trying to prevent the goal and you have quite a challenge.
Depending on whether or not a player fires a wrist shot or a slap shot, the puck can travel anywhere from 80 mph to over 100 mph. That’s pretty amazing on its own, but many shots are made that do not approach this high velocity.
Taking a look at the top 10 goals of the 2014-15 season reveals shots made from in between a player’s legs, guys scoring while laying face down on the ice, acrobatic spin moves, and “how did he do that” moments.
Tyler Ennis’ goal in the top 10 was crazy, but weren’t they all? Scoring with finesse and from improbable positions is another element of the sport of hockey that separates it from all others.
The flip side of skating fast with skill and focus, and the velocity and finesse of scoring in the NHL, is goaltending. Faced with the sheer speed of the game and the fact that very often their view is obstructed by teammates or opposing players, goalies stand alone as the last defense against the puck finding the back of the net.
It is easy and often common to criticize a goalie for letting the puck get by. Part of that is the fact that we believe these guys are capable of stopping everything they face. They often do super-human things to guard their goal, so when one we think is “easy” gets in, we don’t understand.
The thrill of watching the spectacular denials by the best goalies in the world never gets old.
While hockey’s offense has its own artistry and finesse, the skill of making saves in hockey is something that is unique, and part of what makes hockey truly the best sport.
Bonus – The Cup
Every sport has its own championship, each very exciting and deserving of all accolades it may receive. While hockey stands alone in the artistry, scoring finesse and spectacular saves, it truly separates itself from other sports with its playoffs.
Sure the NBA has a similar playoff format to the NHL. And yes its players exert incredible energy on their way to winning the NBA title. It still does not compare to the all-out war that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Read why the Stanley Cup Playoffs Smokes Other Sports).
By the time a team has won the requisite 16 games required to hoist the Cup, there can be no denying that they are well-deserving of the honor. Sure players in all sports play with injuries, but hockey guys are known for their toughness, and its never really a surprise to hear that one of them played through an injury.
Bishop played with a torn groin. What else can you say about hockey players. The Stanley Cup playoffs are the best, hands down.
— Jon Holtz (@holtz158) June 16, 2015
The handshake line at the end of a playoff series is pure class in hockey. Yes, other teams have similar traditions. But, this picture says it all, Alexander Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist acknowledging the greatness they each possess. So very cool.
I am a sports fan. I like baseball, football, basketball, soccer and hockey. Every sport has its own “wow” factor and certain thing that makes it special.
But I believe that when all the comparisons are laid on the table, truly hockey is the best sport. Do you agree? Do you have other reasons to add to the list of why hockey is the best?
Mark Shiver is a staff writer for The Hockey Writers credentialed with the Carolina Hurricanes. You can follow him on Twitter @markshiver