On Fire | Hockey: Canada’s Greatest Accomplishment

“You are the kindest country in the world. You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab.”

— Robin Williams on Canada

Disclaimer: Your On Fire correspondent once spent some significant time up North. No, not like Tennessee North, but a magical land known as Michigan North, a strange place where sunlight is forgotten and life goes on when it snows more than a quarter of an inch. Thus, when your On Fire correspondent was asked by a Southern student whether or not there was such a thing as professional hockey league, it took immense strength and poise not to gag in horror.

“Yes,” your On Fire correspondent responded, eloquently choosing to vocalize the sole non-expletive word that came to mind. At a school in the South where many students cannot differentiate between a Kaldi’s line and a blue line and think icing is what you put on a cupcake, your On Fire correspondent should not have been surprised at such ignorance. Nonetheless, hockey is the greatest gift from our Canadian neighbors that isn’t named Robin Scherbatsky, and it deserves more respect than it’s currently being given.

The truth is, hockey is the least Canada could do after the long list of painful exports it’s forced across the border. Nickelback, Sarah McLachlan’s voice over commercials of abused dogs, old Justin Bieber and an Odyssey-esque siren allure of universal health care are all serious crimes against the World’s Greatest Country we all know and blindly adore like sheep led to the slaughter. And it’s not as if Canada really has anything else to offer. Perhaps Drake, but, in times like these, Meek Mill needs all the support he can get. Maybe the maple syrup supply is nice to keep in reach, but really that’s what we have Vermont for, so honestly Canada better be on its best behavior. Otherwise, the Mexico border won’t be the only one with today’s most advanced border technology — walls — right after we finish the walls around the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, of course, because Fox News is bound to show “Sharknado” sooner or later.

Hockey combines grace and grit, and puts it on ice. Imagine The Nutcracker on ice but with body checks and goals. Name a sport that wouldn’t be better on ice — oh wait, there isn’t one. Hockey is a fast-paced, full-contact sport that allows each Stanley Cup-winning player to spend a day with the championship trophy to do whatever their heart pleases: like Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins, who ate Lucky Charms out of the goblet. Can you imagine what would happen if the National Basketball Association (NBA) just let J.R. Smith roam around with the Larry O’Brien Trophy for a few days?

Let’s be clear: The United States is objectively superior when it comes to assertiveness, gross domestic product and sheer world domination, but the U.S. can learn a lesson or two from Canada’s national sport.

Flopping in American sports culture is far too prevalent. Athletes like Draymond Green and LeBron James are all-too celebrated for faking injuries. This wussification is nowhere to be found in hockey: Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley literally died on the bench, came back to life and asked to be put back into the game. That’s the sort of passion that’s missing in American sports culture.

Maybe most critical to hockey’s status as an elite sport is its stance on fighting. Charge the mound in baseball? Receive a fine and suspension. Hit a player after the whistle in football? Fine and suspension. Chuck knucks in hockey? Receive a standing ovation and spend five minutes in time out in the penalty box. Instead of spending $100 to stream Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, save your money and watch a hockey game, where the fighters actually land punches and simultaneously balance on ice skates.

Although Atlanta has been the failed host of two separate National Hockey League (NHL) franchises (moment of silence for the Thrashers and the Flames), one should not turn an eye to the glorious sport of the North. Even if you think zamboni is a type of pasta, hockey is for all. So, freshman friend who does not know about the existence of the NHL, hockey is in fact real — and it is glorious.