Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa are neighbors in Trencin, Slovakia. They are also friends, who despite their busy schedules try to stay in touch. So when a photo of the two shaking hands in front of the Stanley Cup surfaced I didn’t find it odd or weird or awkward.
Sure, Hossa’s Chicago Blackhawks had just defeated Chara’s Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals but that means once one of their teams is claimed the victor they need to cease to be friends? One can’t be happy for the other?
Hossa even talked about it back in June to NHL.com before the series even started, “Obviously we are good friends. He’s my neighbor. He lives right across the street. But this up coming two weeks, that has to go on the side and we just have to play the roles. I’m going to play my game, he’s going to play his game. I’m sure right after we’ll be friends again.”
That line at the end is what separates hockey players from most other athletes in my opinion, “I’m sure right after we’ll be friends again”. Obviously a lot of athletes have said that before, I just think hockey players mean it.
Now I know sportsmanship is shown in every sport but I just feel it shines brightest in hockey. I mean, they shake hands after every series in the NHL and at other levels they usually shake hands after every game.
Its been my experience that most hockey players fight like rabid dogs over raw meat on the ice, but once that final buzzer sounds, the people you were just competing against are now the very same people you are sharing beers with.