Monday 05 Dec 2016

Stanley Cup 2014
Bob Stark


A black cat crossing your path signifies the animal is going somewhere, said Gruocho Marx.

Everybody's superstitious. Athletes tend to be extremely prone to such rituals as not walking under ladders, growing play-off beards, taking the same routes to the arena, and not changing their shorts.

One of the more intriguing obsessive-compulsive behaviours for hockey players however is a refusal to touch the trophy for winning the Eastern or Western Conference. A nice picture is fine, but touché pas. There is a superstition that if you touch the conference trophy, it's bad luck and you'll lose and never get the chance to touch or hoist, the Cup.


Superstition, well, maybe, but who knows for sure.

The superstition that bad luck will ensue if a black cat crosses your path "finds its origin in the middles ages due to the misconstrued belief that single women, usually elderly, who associated with many cats were actually witches who could become cats themselves. Thus, a black cat crossing your path could actually be a witch.

Of course, in some societies, there is much concern over having one's photo taken; a stealing of the soul. Even looking into a mirror supposedly results in the same stealing of one's soul. Ergo: the evil queen uses a mirror to harm Snow White. Narcissus ensnared by his own reflection and soulless vampires have no reflection. Maybe it's why 'The Beeb' has had so many disastrous happenings in his career. Stop combing your hair in front of a mirror, Justin!

Church bells are rung at weddings not to give one last notice to the poor groom that he's fixed himself good this time but to frighten away evil spirits - traditionally, the mother-in-law.

If a black cat crosses your path while the wedding bells are ringing, on Friday the 13th, and ya walk under a ladder, there's no telling what havoc may ensue.


Well, that is, unless it's all counter-balanced by bird shite.

In Russia, if birds shite on your head, car or property, it's a sign of good fortune. The number of birds and the amount of doo-doo determine just how rich one will become. Presumably, you can use part of the windfall to pay someone, perhaps your mother-in-law, to clean up the mess.

Well, sports fans also engage in superstitious rituals: rubbing rabbit's feet and making a Bunny-Bits stew, with the other remains, or crossing fingers, once used by ancient Christian, during periods of persecution, to identify other believers as a sign of peace, might be the most universal.

Fans tend to watch the same television channel; keep it at a volume level number that is the same as a favourite player wears; sit in the same chair; wear a team sweater, don't change underwear, well, you know the drill.

Well who knows, maybe such charms and rituals work. One thing is for sure, if we're lucky, it looks like the Stanley Cup gets hoisted just before Summer Solstice.

Although there'll be little ice left in the Arctic, one marvels at the ability of modern technology to lay down a sheet of ice in the centre of Los Angeles. Although the soccer lads from Europe and environs will be coping with the global warming heat in Rio, the only sweating the Kings and the Rangers will likely be doing will be over how to get the puck past Henry Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick.

Some will, and rightly so, pitch the series as goalie versus goalie, like all series only more so. "It's not the play-offs; it's the Cup!"

For me, this one comes down to two players. LA's Jeff Carter and New York's Marty St. Louis, which of these players has 'destiny' written on their hockey sticks. We know what went down with Marty regarding the Olympics. Although he eventually made the team, it was only as a replacement due to injury.

Carter was one of the players officially chosen that raised eyebrows in several circles. For me, he was a no-brainer. He has the speed and the goal-scoring talent. What many people hadn't noticed of late, is that party-animal Jeff has become a better two-way player under Darryl Sutter. In Sochi, he turned out to be one of our most consistent forwards.

Marty sat on the bench a lot and then, still peeved over the initial snub, broke-off his connection to Stevie Y and Tampa; he was traded to New York, where he wanted to be. After 8-10 games in the Big Apple, it looked like Marty should have stayed under the Florida sun. Then slowly he started to find his bearings and started to contribute.

Well, fast-forward. No one can dispute the effect on him and his team when his mom died suddenly during the Penguins series. The Rangers dropped the Pens the next three games. The team rallied around his tragedy; spirits in the sky.

In one game against Montreal, Marty, in his own end, struggled to get the puck out and lost it to a Hab. I thought, "Mom has left the building." The magic was gone. Not so fast, I thought. Marty of course would go on to score the winning goal in OT.

Okay so this isn't Ali-Frasier mythological stuff but maybe enough to entice more people than me to watch the series unfold, even if it's 3O degrees outside.

Hey! You can always take a dip in the pool during Coach's Corner. Who will win? Will it be a Hollywood ending or a Broadway musical, bring the curtain down showstopper.

Kings have home-ice. Kings won two years ago and just knocked-off San Jose, Anaheim and defending champions, Chicago, but are tired. The Rangers, well rested, have more speed. This could be a classic series.


I'll be cheering for Coach AV

I'll cheer for the Rangers, but L.A. is more likely to win. It'll take seven games.

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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