Rattling the Glass

June 9, 2009

There will be a fresh sheet of ice beneath my feet tonight.  I never get sick of the sound of a sharpened pair of skates hitting the frozen water.  Many of my peers in the league say that it’s the best sound in sports; perhaps the best sound in the world.

Not me though.

I could sink one hundred putts in golf and hear the dull rattle of the dimpled ball settling in the bottom of the cup; I could listen to one thousand “thwips” of a basketball passing through a hoop, touching nothing but the net; I could skate on a million sheets of fresh ice with finely honed blades scratching the clean surface but none of these things can compare to my favorite sound in sports, my favorite sound in the world.

The sound that I love to make is that of rattling plexi-glass caused by a solid body check.

Maybe it’s an unfair comparison, because the sound of a check is less of a single tone; it’s more of a symphony of brutal notes. The opening allegro, the rhythmic bass of my skates thumping when I see you with your head down.  The quiet adagio, the brief hush before the hit.  The crescendo; your body sounds like a crashing cymbal when I send you soaring into the boards.  Then comes the diminishing finality, when I can hear the air rush out of your lungs as you struggle to your feet and try to write down the number of that truck.  That opus leaves you breathless and the crowd roaring.  The number of that truck was 44.

I am the conductor of your pain, the maestro of your agony, and I have yet to conduct my greatest work of art.  It’s now game 6, and I’ve been mapping out your lines, observing your tendencies, and practicing my timing.

Some say my earlier work was my best; namely my Concerto of Destruction in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year.  Many referred to it simply as “The Shift.”  I sent as many of your new teammates to the ice in 15 seconds as there are quarter notes in a standard measure.

I know, I know. You’re probably saying to yourself right now,  “Concerto of Destruction?  Maestro of your agony?  This guy’s crazy.”

It’s these eyes, right?  These eyes are unsettling to you.  They make me seem wild, right?  Well maybe I am just a little bit.  Did you ever take that into consideration?

Maybe you’ll take exception to my shoulder crushing your skull like a timpani drum against the dasher boards or to my dropped hips sending you ass-over-teacups if you dare enter my zone with any speed.   Maybe you (or one of your teammates) will drop the gloves and have a round with me.  I’m very comfortable with the percussion section.  It’s not typical of playoff hockey, but if that’s what you want, then I’ll need to oblige I guess.  But you should know that after the fight and five minutes in the sin bin, I’ll be back on that ice and I’ll be coming for you again, looking to add another movement to my symphony.

There is no way that I’m going to allow you to hoist that Cup in Pittsburgh.  Get ready for my newest masterpiece.  I call it “Marian Hossa in D Flat.”   So, old buddy, old pal, you might as well dress up in a Halloween costume because I’ll be handing out a whole bunch of Free Candy tonight.

Brook Orpik


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