Game On…with Rob Kriete – SEPTEMBER 30

The handshake, the high-five, and even the more modern fist-pump have been sidelined socially due to the global pandemic.
Safer, contact-free greetings have been adopted by most around the world. Yet, the National Hockey League, with the ability to test their players regularly and kept them Covid-free in a playoff “bubble,” have been able to keep the honorable tradition of handshaking after each playoff series.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup this week for the second time in franchise history by beating the Dallas Stars in six games. The series was physical throughout, and emotions ran high, including three overtime periods of exciting, great hockey. Once the clock ran out in Game 6, the Lightning players celebrated fiercely as a team on their end of the ice. The Stars, though, waited patiently on their end of the ice. Most Dallas players took a knee and quietly wept at the thought of the missed opportunity to have their name etched into the famous Stanley Cup. There might not be a feeling worse than watching another team celebrate a series victory before having to line up and shake their hands.

Then, following in a tradition of respect and sportsmanship, the two teams meet at center ice to shake hands and offer warm salutations. Essentially, it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean. Every check into the boards, each slash, and all penalties are left behind. It represents the ultimate sign of respect.

Agreeing to disagree, and doing so respectfully, has become a lost ability in our modern world. Regardless of the team you root for, in whichever league you love the most, the passion for our teams is what binds us. Whether you love the Stars or love the Bolts, the fire that burns is the same! Fans of opposing teams should shake hands (if that were possible) after every series as well. Do you envision, perhaps, that even the late, great John Lennon could imagine this? Historically, the handshaking custom began during medieval times to show one’s counterpart that you were without a weapon. It evolved into a polite greeting that we knew as customary before 2020. I somehow like the idea of sports fans adopting a way of acknowledging their opponent and fans in an honorable way.

In a polarizing world, agreeing to disagree is becoming a lost grace. The NHL does a great job of showing us all how it can be done genuinely, despite the sports hysteria that burns in all of us.

Hearty Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, their passionate fans, and the Dallas Stars and their fans!

Be safe, everyone.