If Donald Trump is a “stable genius”, then I still have a shot at the NHL

Opinion, Sports

Donald Trump, by claiming he’s a “stable genius” in one of his latest Twitter tirades, provided hope for everyone who thought their unfulfilled dreams were dead and buried. 

I’m not going to dive into the far-reaching political implications or the absurdity of his irresponsible, petulant Tourette-style tweets.

Instead, I’m going to focus on a silver lining, the fact that Trump’s comical defence of his questionable mental state has instilled me with the belief that it’s not too late to fulfil my childhood dream of making the NHL.

Sure, I’m two months shy of my 35th birthday, a touch too old by most sane people’s reckoning. Rustiness might also be a slightly hamstringing factor, as I haven’t laced up my skates for almost a decade.

But, like Trump, my mental stability is beyond reproach, so the physical impediments are mere blips to overcome on my journey to NHL glory.

It’s going to be a long, arduous journey but I’m up for the challenge. I must be strategic, though. Figuring that knocking on Brad Treliving’s door, or showing up to the Saddledome with a pair of skates in hand wouldn’t render desirable results, I’ve ruminated ad nauseam about how best to make an unforgettable impression.

To begin what will assuredly be a lengthy, gruelling training regime, I’ve decided to start on the mental side of things. To become an NHLer, I must think like one, and to do that there is only one place to start: EA Sports’ NHL 2018.

NHL 2018 Training Camp

To loosen up and learn the basics, after a decade hiatus from playing EA’s hockey series, I suited up and hit the ice for training camp. I’d like to say it was akin to riding a bike, but that would be bald-faced lie; there were, admittedly, a few teething problems, namely learning how to tie-up an opponent on the draw. It’s slightly embarrassing, I know.

And don’t get me started on the dekes.

After a few slight hiccups, I proficiently passed all training camp requirements. Confidence brimming, it was time to showcase my newfound talent by pitting my skills against an online opponent.

My first NHL 2018 online test

I realized quickly that, like the real thing, there is absolutely no tolerance for off-puck hits. A constant stream to the penalty box eventually ended up costing me, as my opponent, the name of whom I don’t recall, scored on one of his numerous man advantages.

That halted my original game plan, inspired by the brutes and enforcers in Slap Shot, the 1977 cult hockey classic.

But I was confident that training camp fitted me with the skills needed to compete in the online NHL 2018 world without running roughshod. I was sorely mistaken. Thoroughly outplayed for the lion’s share of the game, I managed to somehow score the equalizer. The goal, as you can imagine, wasn’t pretty, but they all count.

Mike Smith, the Flames’ starting goaltender, kept me in the game, not too dissimilar to the situation on the road in Calgary’s current NHL campaign.

Going to overtime

Tied at one, I managed to take Anaheim to overtime. Like an out-of-shape athlete coming out of retirement, I started to prematurely fatigue. My sore fingers were the most immediate concern. Like an NHLer playing through injury in the Stanley Cup playoffs, I battled on, the prospect of glory increasing my pain threshold.

More surprisingly than some of Trumps’s most ridiculous tweets, I potted the winner in double overtime. I leapt off the couch, celebrating like I’d won the Stanley Cup.

After some time to reflect, I’m deathly scared of putting my 1-0 record on the line. I know a loss isn’t far away, but quitting isn’t an option.

If I’m going to eventually make the NHL, I must re-enter NHL 2018’s online universe and take on all comers.

My NHL 2018 username is New_Age_Journo, so please have mercy if we happen to meet head-to-head online.

Just keep in mind that I’m NHL-bound and on a transcendent journey, largely in part because of a single, utterly laughable Trump tweet.

(Feature photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Don’t underestimate the important benefits of gaming

Opinion, Sports

Everyone should devote some time to playing video games, as the list of benefits is as long as Sydney Crosby’s career accomplishments.

It is, of course, imperative to strike a delicate balance between gaming and participating in more traditional hobbies, sports and other recreational activities.

Negative publicity about the potential addictiveness of video games, akin to the tone of most Montreal Canadiens game reports so far this season, has recently taken precedence, the resulting hysteria unfairly stigmatizing some gamers.

But make no mistake, gaming is good for cognitive development; it’s also good for the soul.

The cognitive benefits of playing video games

Engadget, in an enlightening piece published in September, focussed on eight cognitive benefits associated with kids playing video games. Those benefits range from improvement in coordination and multitasking skills to memory enhancement.

While comprehensive, the list certainly isn’t exhaustive.

I remember how effectively playing EA’s NHL and FIFA series garnered – and refined – my competitive nature.

Whether you like to admit it, the world is more competitive than ever before.

Electronic Arts’ (EA) FIFA and NHL labels, along with participating in those sports’ real-life applications, helped ready me to fight tooth and nail for everything I have since strived for.

Playing video games – part of my pre-game ritual

The aforementioned EA labels also add insight and perspective into how best to position yourself in practical sports situations. I can, having avidly played soccer and hockey, back up that assertion. Delving into a few NHL or FIFA games before taking to the pitch or ice prepared me mentally for the challenges that lay ahead.

It allowed me, like a harbinger, to envision situations that could arise against forthcoming opponents. Playing EA’s NHL before strapping on skates was part of my pre-game ritual, the called-upon motor functions sharpening my reaction time and focus.

EA’s Special Effect Program

To further underpin the intrinsic benefit of video games, I turn swiftly to EA’s SpecialEffect program.

A team of therapists and technology specialists dedicate their time to creating bespoke control systems which facilitate disabled gamers with the tools required to proficiently play the games they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Video games – a way of life

To many, video games aren’t merely seen as a hobby or activity to pass time. Gaming is way of life, a means to sharpen and accentuate ones skill set. Video games can also increase quality of life and build bridges between cultures.

They don’t discriminate and are all-inclusive, embodying many values upstanding citizens pride themselves on.

It’s those tactic perks that fly under the radar, underrated and unheralded.

So grab a controller and dive into the game you’re most passionate about, if not for the reasons I’ve mentioned, than for pure unadulterated fun.

Just remember the old adage “everything in moderation” when playing your favourite game on your preferred console or device.

(Feature image by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Bud Light)