June 14, 2013

The Boston Bruins are the toughest team in the NHL: So what is it good for, this heady melange of swagger and glower and grit and facepunching? What is it, if it's not a way to win? Consider this possibility: toughness in hockey isn't a strategy. It's an aesthetic.

posted by rumple to hockey at 01:43 PM - 4 comments

"We need aesthetics of violence, because violence is about pain, and pain is something we all need to understand. We need something in our culture that tells stories about it. Inflicting pain, enduring pain, owning pain. Mastering it. Making it- this thing that all humans instinctively fear, this thing that entire moral philosophies have been invented to avoid- yours. This is a fantasy many of us have and a narrative most of us will sometimes need. Maybe it was needed more when hockey players were birthed in mining towns and logging camps and fans came to the games from the factories and docks, when everyone who came to the barn came from a world of grinding, exhausting, injurious physical labor. Once upon a time it may have been easier to empathize with the idea that sometimes you need to take a blow to make a living- or deliver one to protect you and yours.

The kind of aesthetics- the emotional moments- that hockey provides are not exactly flourishing in the modern world, which is perhaps why the defenders of old-time hockey are so terrified of seeing them eroded further. This kind of art is important to them. They need it, and don't want it to be stripped away just because some other fans are unmoved. So they try to pretend it's necessary for winning and losing, because no one will have sympathy if you simply say, "it gives me the sort of feelings I want to feel.""

posted by rumple at 01:46 PM on June 14

Toughest team in Hockey?

I think a better description of the Bruins is they have a number of physical players who are also skilled. They could also be described as a team that plays physical together.

posted by cixelsyd at 02:42 PM on June 14

Ellen Etchingham is routinely great.

posted by Mookieproof at 05:52 PM on June 14

I think the toughest team in the NHL is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

To have your season end like it did, and to have the baggage of decades of failure pressing down on your back, and to have a rabid fanbase that won't give you a moments peace (even when you aren't around the arena) and being unable to escape the smothering, cynical, spiteful 24/7/365 media...

How they don't drink themselves into a stupor and just lay down in the gutter to die, I don't know.

posted by grum@work at 08:50 PM on June 14

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