There's something about this game of ours that begs the discussion.
The players have come from all over, beat out hundreds (thousands) of hopefuls to be there. We have friends and we have foes. (Crosby and Ovechkin, although much less so these days). Costumes are critical. (I hope Pittsburg wears their alternates tonight. I love that bluer-than-blue). The common goal is to play for the audience. (FIGHT! FIGHT!)
Today I have no choice but to put myself in the mind and heart of Ben Lovejoy. Here's a player who almost got a Gordie Howe hat-trick (can you have a fight with a puck?) on his very first game up from the Minors. He wore his stitches like a badge of honour as his face swelled up and took on the technocolour hues of Joseph's dream coat.
Will he play tonight? What would it feel like, having played your first game in an arena that seats 20,000 odd fans indoors with reverb sound, to skate onto that outdoor ice, snow pelting you in the face, to the roars of a crowd that's 65,000 strong?
Something like performing Hamlet at the Delacourt as rain comes thrashing down to the point that electrocution is a worry and even then understanding the audience's need for you all to be in this thing together? The show must go on.
As for myself, I'm anxiously awaiting the puck drop in a little over 4 hours. And even though we're at home sipping coffee and playing with the dogs, I wonder if I'm feeling just a little bit of what those who line up outside Will Call are anticipating: a night of bravery, spectacle, conflict and loyalty.
It's all here.
Tune in 20:00 EST tonight for the Winter Classic.