Warning: You are about to see the word “words” a lot. By a lot I mean A LOT. Like 34,543 times.
For the last couple of years, the commercial titled No Words has held the mantle of “My Favorite Commercial of All Time” (among other awards). It perfectly encompasses the emotion of winning the Stanley Cup. It reminds me of winning championships during my playing days. It reminds me of everything that went into winning them. Beyond the hours spent at practice, it’s about all the spare time in the gym, the driveway, the basement, the pond, and any other place I played or practiced something resembling hockey. It reminds me of the countless hours talking about hockey strategy and philosophy with my hockey playing and coaching family members. It reminds me of the injuries I played through, the mistakes I made, the few goals I managed to score — all of which contributed to the roller coaster ride that ended with a considerable piece of jewelry on my finger. After these thoughts go through my mind, “No Words” brings me to the NHL. These players spent an entire decade more getting to their championships than I spent getting to mine. That’s a decade worth of hits, injuries, bus rides, conversations with coaches, and everything else that goes into it. How do you describe the culmination of thirty years worth of blood, sweat and tears? You can’t. There are no words.
The phrase “No Words” also reminds me of an old VHS video I watched hundreds of times as a kid. The internet tells me it’s called “Wayne Gretzky – Above and Beyond“. It came out in 1990 and encompasses Gretzky’s career up through breaking Gordie Howe’s points record in the ’89-90 season. “No Words” specifically mirrors this section of the film. Like No Words, this scene evokes an image in my mind that does so much more to describe everything it takes to win the Stanley Cup, without actually saying it. It demonstrates how words fail to capture that which is most meaningful:
Narrator: What he (Gretzky) really wanted was the Stanley Cup. Later that year, in the Cup finals, it was not to be. The peach-fuzzed Oilers lost to the three time Cup champion New York Islanders, in four straight games. He remembers the moments after the loss.
Gretzky: Kevin (Lowe) and I were saying, well let’s get going, get past there, and get on the bus. And as we walked, got closer and closer, it was pretty quiet. We didn’t think anybody was in their room. And uh, as we kinda looked in, the people who were celebrating were management, family, wives, that sort of thing. The players themselves were so exhausted, so tired, ice packs, you know, that sort of thing. Sitting there, it was kinda like, you know, it’s over. And here we are, we were fine, we were like, no problems at all. And, uh, we got on the bus, and I remember Kevin saying ‘that’s the difference, they won and they’re wounded, we lost and we’re fine.'”
I’ve watched both Above and Beyond and No Words hundreds of times. Through that, the phrase “no words” itself has come to symbolize something beyond just that commercial. Whenever I even think of that phrase, I get filled with all those emotions.
Oddly enough, “Words” has become something of a joke among a few of us at The Union Blue. Whenever I am writing a piece, I use “Words” as a paragraph filler as I do my research, put together charts, find video, photoshop pictures, and everything else that goes into my typical post. Alison has frequently commented on this to me, and “Words” has become something of a joke whenever we really don’t have something to say.
As you may have noticed, there have been a lot of words lately, but very little Words. I’ve just had nothing to say. I have felt the need to write something, anything, about how this lockout was impacting me, but I just couldn’t. I had no words. In fact, this post has been sitting in our draft section for weeks: titled “No Words”, with just “Words on the lockout” in the body of the post. I still have no words for the NHL. The bulk of this post is on my feelings regarding an old NHL commercial and an ancient documentary. I never have a problem coming up with words. Even posts I try to keep short end up over 1000 words. But right now, at this moment, I have no words for the NHL.