Mack the Nate

Exactly two NHL players have been born in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, a town of about 25,000 people on the Atlantic coast east of Halifax.  One is Sidney Crosby, among the superstars of his generation, and future Hall of Famer.  The other is Nathan MacKinnon.

MacKinnon, rookie for the upstart Colorado Avalanche, has been a standout at every level of hockey he has yet experienced.  He is quickly making a name for himself on the national stage in 2013-14 as the 18 year old phenom capable of handling a speeding puck more deftly than Garfield handles a lasagna:

MacKinnon

The lines and angles on that play are so perfect that they’d make an architect blush.  And it is what we have come to expect from MacKinnon, himself barely old enough to ride a motorcycle unsupervised.

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Cutting a handsome figure: Sports team skylines

HongKong from above

Every city has a feel to it. Ah yes, the fountains of Rome, the smog monsters of Beijing, and the Ian Zeiring Chippendales posters of Vegas.1

Walking the streets of a city is the best way to get a sense of its ambiance — a person strolling through New Orleans’ French Quarter would never mistake their surroundings for the streets of Cairo.  But every city also has a larger visual identity, and a city’s skyline is the best way to get a sense of this broad aesthetic character.  Think of it as the shadow that each city casts on the wall while it awkwardly dances in candlelight in an 80’s teen movie.  The silhouette created by a city is partially determined by population and wealth and development prospects, of course, but it also reflects the image that the city wants to present.  The steady low rooftops of Washington, D.C., broken only by historical monuments and colossal political egos, cut a very different figure and send a very different message than the contempo towers of the Frankfurt skyline, which advertise the city’s status as one of Europe’s leading centers of finance and cocaine.

Likewise, every sports franchise has a history.  Some teams have short and forgettable histories, like the Charlotte Bobcats, who will be soon changing their name to the Hornets to begin that forgetting process as soon as possible.  Some have long and storied histories, like Real Madrid and the New York Yankees.  If you plotted a team’s success and identity over time, what would it look like? Continue reading

Air Ball

Open air hockey.  It’s a good thing.

Pond hockey, obviously, has been a tradition for generations.  Long before there were legitimate organized hockey leagues (we’re talking deep into the 1800’s), all hockey was outdoors.  The game was slowly moved indoors, and it became the norm.  Although there were occasional exhibition and college games played outside over the years, the first outdoor NHL game that actually counted was played in 2003 in Edmonton, wherein the Canadiens bested the Oilers.  The NHL instituted its “Winter Classic” series five years later, and since then, occasional outdoor games have been a popular fixture.  The same is true across central and northern Europe.  Outdoor pro hockey was good in “Mystery, Alaska” and, as it turns out, it is good in real life too.  Tonight’s Blackhawks versus Penguins game at Soldier Field has had its crowds thinned by frigid temperatures and inclement weather, but it maintains the trademark charm of outdoor hockey.

There is one other major American sport that has a robust outdoor history but is also played indoors.  So why haven’t we seen the NBA show any love for open air basketball?

ruckerpark

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T.J. Sochi

More than six and a half years after the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” when a bunch of American amateur hockey players downed the vaunted Soviet team at the Olympics in Lake Placid, T.J. Oshie was spawned in the Boeing hub of Everett, Washington.  It’s safe to say he doesn’t have the same visceral reaction to the 1980 matchup1 as do those who were in attendance or watching live, or at least those who were even arguably alive at the time, but he seems comfortable enough authoring an exciting epilogue to it… Continue reading