Mamas, don't put your babies to bed before OT

I missed the Monday Night Miracle.

I can't remember the exact details of how my sentence went down, other than Mom sent me to bed prematurely, and by morning I was sure I'd never forgive her. The Blues were down hopelessly in that game, they were about to be eliminated from the Campbell Conference finals, I would be crying -- oh, just go to bed already so you're not a crabby mess in the morning.

When I woke up the next day to learn what happened, I was at once elated that the Blues were still alive -- and devastated that I missed the experience of what should have easily been the best live moment of a young sports fan's life.

That morning I huffed and hawed and moaned and declared: "Never again. I'm never leaving an NHL playoff game for bed again. Cross my heart 'n hope to die."

That silly youthful statement of purpose later evolved into a different pledge: Never leave a playoff OT game in progress, because you never know if you're about to miss an epic -- and even if it's not epically long, it's epically fascinating. It doesn't matter if you have school, an exam, work, a funeral -- whatever the next day brings, those OT moments steal portions of your brain and take up permanent residence where no other memory can replace them.

So it was that I saw the Islanders' four-OT Game 7 Easter Epic, which ended on an exhausted Pat LaFontaine's desperate spinaround slapshot through traffic, to eliminate a frozen Bob Mason and his Washington Capitals. So it was that I caught basically every longest NHL game that has happened since WWII:

  • Petr Nedved stunning Washington (them again!) in the final minute of the fourth OT in 1996? I was bouncing around in my bedroom, laced with adrenaline from the rush that carried through the next day.
  • Keith Primeau over Pittsburgh in the fifth OT in 2000? I had a final in the morning; I don't remember what subject the final was in, but I damn sure remember Primeau's tank-empty celebration.
  • Petr Sykora doing it for Anaheim over Dallas in 2003 -- I had the early shift and didn't go to bed that night. Don't know if my boss noticed, don't think that I cared.
  • Last year's Brendan Morrow killer of San Jose was just one more chapter in a book of rushes only the NHL playoffs can provide.

And those are just teams I don't really even care about. Imagine when it's the kid's favorite team.

Now, I'm not a parent -- I just steal my nephews and nieces until I've sugar-loaded them in proper preparation for return to their parents. I know there's bed time and proper development and diet and science and the all-important "Oh, he'll be a mess in the morning." Heck, my stubborn addiction to spring-time hockey may explain why I'm a night owl now.

But if your kid is hooked on hockey at this point and you are frequenting this site, I have a feeling he's never going to shake it. So let him hang in there, fall asleep by your side if necessary. Because the thrill of playoff OT's constant give-and-take, its repeated brushes with death -- it's like no other spectator sport experience.

I remember every one, and I don't remember the exam or work or hangover or hissy fit I threw the next day. I just remember that rush of watching it happen.

So with the Blues having to hit the West Coast for round 1 of these playoffs, I'm just saying: If he's living and dying with each play, think twice before you ship the kid to bed. However the game ends, there's a good chance he'll never forget it.

Please make sure that any content you post is appropriate to Game Time, which means that it pertains to hockey, the Blues, frosty adult beverages, or puppies.

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