Between periods at a hockey game, some of us stay seated and end up watching the graceful, calming dual Zamboni dance. Like magic, the white snowy ice turns into shiny clear ice behind.
But those of us old enough remember a day when ice refinishing was done with just one Zamboni. Sure, every NHL rink had a back up Zamboni, in case the main one broke down, but nobody ever thought to use the back up Zamboni and get the job done at half the time. Then one day in 1985, folks at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota put in an order for an additional Zamboni. “Ralph, quit leaning on that broom. Get out there with #2 and help Carl with that ice. We’ve got a game to play.”
It’s fitting that the idea came from a Minnesota rink manager or Zamboni driver. Minnesotans, of course, understand ice. Those of us who used to turn on the rink lights with a 6:50 am ice time understand that ice that has been allowed to “cure” or “set up” after resurfacing is really good, hard ice. For NHL players, stepping onto freshly resurfaced ice that has set up just an extra couple minutes is that much better ice. Whoever this guy was, he changed ice resurfacing forever.
Back on the bench, we can consider: who was the first player to squirt a little water out of the bottle before taking a swig? Surely it must have been a germ conscious player. And the player was probably not so much a hypochondriac, but was probably a player fully understanding the havoc that a flu bug or the mumps can have on a team. But no hockey players suck on the water bottle,. so, why the extra squirt? Superstition? Maybe. But ridding any idea of germs in the water bottle becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. We all know that getting sick can be very very much mind over matter. One ounce of water sacrificed for piece of mind is a good investment. Who was that first hockey player? Whoever he was, he changed swigging out of a water bottle forever.
Back on the ice, ever wonder who was the first defenseman to flip the puck up high, up and out of the zone? It used to be that a hard shot around the boards, about the height of an opposing players private parts, could do the job. But players are too good. Cups are too strong. And if the puck gets by the defenseman holding the point, well, the puck goes all the way down to the other end. An icing call, back in the zone. Somewhere along the line, and it was recently, defenseman found an effective way to get the puck safely out of the zone, out of reach from snarling opposing defenseman, and turning defense into offense. Just like (insert favorite quarterback name here), defenseman are now like skilled quarterbacks, lobbing a forward pass to drop right down for a rushing teammate, creating havoc for the opposing defenseman. Who was the first hockey player to develop this skill? Whoever he was, he changed the game forever.
Where in your day can you see a way to change the game forever?