You saw this video of the Red Wings Daniel Alfredsson picking up his teeth from the ice in New Jersey on Tuesday night:
This guy is 41, and has played 19 years in the league. He's on a team that is fighting for a chance to claim the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
And yet, he not only returned to play the rest of the second period and the game, but didn't skip a shift.
In a day and age where fans are constantly complaining about athletes not "earning their keep" or "not caring enough," Alfredsson and 90% of today's hockey players continue to give their team and fan base maximum effort. I tend to think it's always been that way, and it's something I've always greatly admired about the men who play the sport. What I can't figure out is why more sports fans don't recognize it, appreciate it and, in turn, become cheerleaders for the game.
Ask anyone in the media, and they will tell you hockey players are the most down-to-earth athletes in sports. While other athletes openly brag about not playing hard through their season, hockey players are almost apologetic for not giving more.
While some are tarnishing their sports image with steroid use, hockey players are fighting through injuries just to stay in the lineup. They sure aren't perfect and it's not as if they avoid trouble, but they and the NHL embody what we here in the United States always claim to love from our sports: toughness, speed and dedication.
Instead of debating whether or not fighting should be tolerated, or arguring over the shootout, why don't more media and fans recognize hockey for what it is?
Pure entertainment from guys who love their game, appreciate their fans and show it every single night.
What more could you ask for?
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.