As I sat at a table outside of a Korean convenience store after work the other night, knocking back a couple of OB Blues and some Soju with my brother and a coworker, for the first time since my arrival in this strange land a couple of weeks ago, our conversation to my delight turned to sports.
Maybe it's just me, but every time I have been outside of the US nearly every conversation, be it with a native of whichever country I was in at the time, or with some other English speaking person always ends up centering around American foreign policy.
Not that I don't care about American politics, but I'm not a person who necessarily enjoys talking about the goings-on streaming from Washington, even when I'm in America. For me there are two things that I'd rather talk about before settling into unsavory arguments about American geo-political or economic endeavors. Instead, I'd rather talk about the interesting facts and figures of the country I'm in or even better, the goings-on in American sports.
If there is one thing that will bring Americans together overseas other than the defense of the homeland, it is a heated discussion about football, or hockey, or baseball. Sports is the tie that binds us.
One of the good things I have encountered when traveling abroad is that in every country in the world, in nearly abundant numbers as Americans, Canadians can be found either rarin' to tear into an unsuspecting Yankee about whichever country the US has bombed lately, or in their less sober moments throw out the "curveball" of hockey. It is times like this when my brain goes into overload, because few things tickle my lobes quite like informing a Canadian that a Russian (Alex Ovechkin) is better than their wonderboy (Sid Crosby), and then watching as their eyes turn south as they try to think of a diversion from the truth.
In this fact I am relishing that I am in line for a beer league goaltending position for a team full of Canuck expatriates. Every time one of them gets worked on the point, or gets beaten in the corners, I might just be inclined to take a poke about a perceived decline in quality in the Canadian hockey elite. But I digress...
On this night as three Americans posted up with the fire water on the corner, reveling in the fact that Koreans not only don't care about loitering, but support it, we shared a good laugh about how NFL Films, no matter which team they are covering, will never hesitate to spin the "things are looking up!" angle for whatever bad team they are featuring. They are probably just trying to slang more videos to die-hards, but it has never failed to amuse me when they try and make an absolutely terrible team seem like they are going in a positive direction.
"The 2008 Detroit Lions, a team on the RISE!"
This is where the NHL needs to take a bit of direction from the NFL. There needs to be an NHL Films. In the case of the Colorado Avalanche, an in depth analysis of this year's team could actually serve to get a few more fans to jump on the bandwagon, while the bandwagon is still in the shop for repairs.
It could introduce fans to the lesser-knowns of a squad in full rebuild. Don't you think people would like to know more about the potential of the Kevin Shattenkirk's and Ryan Stoa's of the world? Isn't this how the Maple Leafs have maintained a fan base, by becoming overly excited about the next big thing?
The season is nearing, and thanks to the miracle of the interweb I'm actually excited to see the new generation in burgundy take the ice, as at least one team in Denver seems to understand that sometimes admitting a full fledged rebuild is healthier than trying to cover up mistakes and mediocrity.
Now if the NHL could just pump out something like "the 2009 Colorado Avalanche, building for success!" all would be a little better in this strange world.