Just a few hours ago, the LA Kings defeated the NY Rangers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals and, oh, what a game it was!
A double overtime thriller filled with pucks hitting the post and the crossbar, breakaways, crazy good goaltending, and incredible and vicious hitting.
The series had 3 of the games go in to overtime and one of the games had a puck stop dead on the goal line.
The series was as hard fought a series as you will see in any sport and, at it’s conclusion, it ended with the most fascinating of playoff hockey traditions, the post-series handshake.
The handshake itself dates back to the 5th century BC and is believed to have been popularized as a gesture of peace, signifying that you had no weapons.
It’s no wonder then that the handshake ritual is one that hockey players adopted without any league-wide mandate.
The role the handshake plays today in hockey is probably much the same as when the tradition started, a gesture to reinforce the idea that “it’s just a game”.
After learning to hate a team with such passion over a two-week battle, the last thing you would consider wanting to do at the end of it all is shake hands and wish them well, but it’s part of the game.
I can promise you that after a week of yelling and screaming at my TV, I felt more like crying into my pillow than trying to be a good sport.
Nonetheless, these professional athletes, who have the entire front row of their teeth missing, line up to shake hands, embrace each other, and show respect for the game. .￼
As hard as it must be, it really is an awesome display of sportsmanship and certainly a spectacle to see.
Now in harsh contrast to that, I give you Steve Coburn, owner of California Chrome.
Last week, his exit from Belmont Park was part class, part ass.
After watching his horse, California Chrome, finish tied for fourth in the Belmont Stakes and extend
horse racing’s Triple Crown futility to 36 years and counting, Coburn made a different kind of spectacle of himself.
In a live TV interview, he ranted that Tonalist took “the coward’s way out” by skipping the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
He then followed up that tasty comment on Sunday with, “it wouldn’t be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair because I got an unfair advantage.”
Not exactly the best example of good sportsmanship?
From the time we are kids, our parents and coaches do their best to teach us the virtues of good sportsmanship and the great lessons we can learn from the game, win or lose.
There are many athletes throughout history that just didn’t get that memo, as witnessed in this ESPN Top Ten video.
The point is, we have all been in competitive situations, both in sports and in life, and no matter how hard fought these battles are, no matter what the result, being a good sport is about as difficult as it gets.
Thank you to hockey and its long standing handshake tradition and for showing us, after all, it’s just a game!
And that’s what Nudelberg says!