This is a story about hockey.
We had been following the Bruins closely from over here, seven time zones removed from Boston and ten time zones from the site of game seven. This is not exactly hockey territory.
Keeping abreast of the NHL from here takes more effort than turning on the TV. On game days, or, rather, on the morning following games, we learn results from the sports websites, with only a quick glimpse if the B’s have lost, but a full hour reading stories from Boston and Vancouver in the event of a win. (Yes, “we.” Sima followed the series as closely as I did, although admittedly she lost no sleep.)
As the series went to games four, five, and six, I had been getting up at four or five a.m. to “watch” the last period on one of the sports websites.
I say “watch” because I was following the game by reading “live” text commentary, rather than watching video or listening to radio. Following a game in this fashion is a little limiting and very annoying, as the typical postings combine live-game commentary with tweets from the unwashed masses, so you get something like “Goaaaalllllllll!” followed by “I can’t believe he let that one in,” and then “this series is sooo over.” After what then seems like an eternity, a couple of minutes will pass before you are able to learn important details, like which team scored.
As the series crept toward a seventh meeting, we started to think about finding a way to watch the game.
We had been trying to locate an on-line radio station or a website that streams the games in Turkey, but weren’t having much luck. Many of the available pay-per-view sites are blocked in Turkey. We did find that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation allows the games to be streamed for free, but, alas, one must be in Canada to take advantage of that offer. Maybe you have to be Canadian, to boot. I dunno.
We came across this exchange on one Internet forum while during our research:
Query: “Hey, does anyone know where I can stream NHL games for free?”
Answer (chosen as most useful by others in the forum): “In hockey heaven.”’
That option not being readily accessible, we began to look for others. The NHL doesn’t have many fans here, and it didn’t help that the game would start at 3 a.m. locally. Sima, began to make telephone calls. She learned that the game would be on Fox Sports Europe and, further, that Fox Sports Europe is carried by one of Turkey’s largest cable companies, Digiturk. This was a good start.
But from there the road got a little bit bumpy. Sima called a handful of sports bars. They’d be closed. She found one that would be open, but, alas, it would be disco-like loud with music by 3 a.m. and, even if young Alexander could have dealt with that, it was going to close at about the time the third period would start.
(A brief digression, as this reminds me of a similar story that played out some 35 years ago.
My Dad was, and is, an avid Celtics fan. My mom tells the story of the 1964 finals, when Dad, unable to get off of work, sent her into Boston to stand in line to buy tickets for a game, one-year old Paul strapped to her back.
I don’t remember that event, but I do remember that for game five of the 1976 NBA finals, I was in Ithaca, New York with my dad and other family members to attend sister Joanne’s graduation.
It was the 4th of June, and game 5, between the Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, was to be played that night in Boston.
There was no TV in the dorm room where we stayed. So we started walking into town. There were probably some bars that would be showing the game, but my age, 13, would keep that from being a viable option. As we walked down the street, we found an appliance store selling TVs. We walked in and Dad was allowed to switch the channel to the game. Or maybe it was already on. In any event, we stood in the aisle and watched.
At around half time or so, however, the small shop began to close. But the TV would be left on for us, and we could see it through the window! So we stepped out into the increasingly darkening street, and on we watched!
We might have been OK had the game ended in regulation. But it didn’t and, in what is by many considered to be the greatest playoff game in NBA history, play stretched into triple overtime.
At some point, maybe it was midnight, the TV snapped off. It was on a timer! Dad and I found ourselves staring at our reflections in the window, and nothing much else.
Dad quickly went to work, and upon finding a nearby bar, headed towards it. It was our only option now.
Dad approached the bouncer, and peering over his shoulder at the game being displayed on a TV at the bar, explained that he was from Boston. And this was the finals. He would be at the game, for goodness sakes, if it weren’t for this silly graduation. Could he and his young son come in? Dad would watch him as closely as the game.
So there we sat at the bar, pop with a beer, which he nursed because he doesn’t like beer so much, and me with a coke, which I nursed because dad told me to, as finishing it would mean that he’d have to buy me another.
Boston won in the third OT, and although I remember none of the details of the Greatest NBA Game Ever, I do remember just about every part of being with my dad that night. It was with this memory in mind that I looked forward to finding some place to watch the Bruins with Sima and Alexander.)
Sima began to call hotels. If we could get a room with TV that carried Digiturk, that would work just fine, especially for young Alexander. But many of the hotels did not have TVs in their rooms. Others had TVs, but did not carry Digiturk. Sima was growing increasingly tired of the exercise, and we were about to pack it in.
Then she called a place called the Eden Garden Hotel. (Could this be hockey heaven?!) They did not have TVs in the rooms, but they had a giant screen by the pool. Does it carry Digiturk? Sure it does. Are you sure?! “I’m 100% sure!” The proprietor said that he would be willing to set us up by the pool late at night. We were a go!
It was late on game day, and we called, texted, and emailed Seth and Jamie, our good friends from a boat called Slapdash. They are from Vancouver, and were as eager to see the game as we were. We didn’t hear back from them, and so figured that we’d be watching the game by ourselves.
We headed out for the game, which required that we dinghy in from our anchorage to the local marina, take a bus to central Marmaris, and from there catch another bus to the other side of town.
En route, we called Seth and Jamie again. They would be coming!
We all checked into our rooms and, at about 10 p.m., went to sleep.
We awoke to alarms at 2:50 a.m., and trudged out to the pool. Some golf finished up on the screen, and then, in what almost seemed like magic, the start of game seven began in full living color.
We were stretched out on deck chairs and, because it was cool that night, wrapped tightly in blankets. But that’s the way it should be for hockey.
It was good to watch it with Vancouver fans, and knowledgeable ones at that. (Seth is Canadian and a hockey player and a former lumberjack and brought a keg of beer to the 3 a.m. game. You can’t get much more authentic than that!) But it was also difficult at times, because each of us had to keep our emotions in check. Sima and I couldn’t bounce about when the B’s scored, and Seth permitted himself only a single explicative, under his breath and through gritted teeth, when Boston’s third goal wandered in.
Alexander cooperated bravely, raptly watching the first couple of periods, then becoming fidgety in the third, which allowed me to pace about the pool, using the ruse of carrying him to and fro to hide my need to walk off the adrenaline. Maybe he felt the same.
With five minutes to go, we were still holding our collective breaths, but, at 3-0, the writing did seem to be on the wall, and the open-netter with time dwindling sealed it.
The game ended as the sky began to lighten and the air to warm. We lingered, watching the post-game ceremonies. Seth and Jamie were gracious in defeat, and we tried to be so in victory.
It was nice to win. We reflected, however, that watching the game in hockey heaven with such good friends was about as good as it gets, and would have made a less fortunate result easier to take.