Watching hockey in Germany
I can’t remember how it came out, but a couple of months ago I learned that I had a few Pittsburgh Penguins fans in oneof my classes here. This kind of surprised me, since hockey is known here and Leipzig has a team playing in one of the more minor leagues, but isn’t a major sport. I chatted with one of my students about it, and while he didn’t play hockey (his hometown has no ice sheet–how I feel his pain), he started watching a long time ago and somehow found his way to the Pens.
[Note: If you are reading this and know me, I need not explain that for me, there are the Pens, and a bunch of other teams which are there to lose to the Pens. For the rest, you just learned.]
Fast forward to last week, where my beloved Pens survived a wretched game five to tie things up at three games all. I had thus far resisted the urge to watch any of the games. They start at 2:00 am here and I am no longer the footloose student I was in 1991 when they won the Cup while I was in Bremen and watched every single minute of all six games against the North Stars in the middle of the night. I’m a responsible adult with a heavy teaching load and two young children. But game seven? Against the Red Wings? Responsibilities be damned.
I ran into one of my Pens fans two days before the game in the hall in my building. Shamelessly, I said, hey, you mentioned there are ways to see the games here. He said sure, in my kitchen. I then proceeded to more or less invite myself over in the middle of the night (didn’t take much; we Pens fans take care of each other). Brought chicken wings (the appropriateness of eating wings occurred to me only later, so focused was I on the game) and chocolate chip cookies in response to a request for American snacks. The wings in the bowl, along with the celery sticks and blue cheese dressing (made my own!), had as little chance of survival as did the other Wings in the red jerseys.
Turns out that my student has a large screen (literally, a screen, as in the kind that pulls down) in his kitchen, and a computer projector so he can watch things in super large format. Excellent setup.
It was glorious. The Wings fans present were sad, but decent about it. Those of the Pens persuasion were exhausted as the sun came up outside, but utterly exhilarated at the hoisting of Lord Stanley’s cup. I agree with those who say it’s the best trophy in sports, won through the hardest playoff run, and somehow watching your team hoist it just blows the mind.