Ode to the Red Line

Joe Scaringi
August 24, 2009

There you sit, center of centers, dividing the playing surface in two. Unlike your cousins, the blue lines, you perform a task ever so critical, a duty that is carried out by no other. You proudly sit in the middle of the cold ice surface, separating it ever so symmetrically into two indistinguishable halves. Skating recklessly over top of you, a player moves carelessly from offense to defense without so much as a glance at your beautiful red glow.

The neutral zone is where you call home; a home which you guard with unwavering reserve.

Each and every game starts at your interior. Each period looks to you to commence the action. Where would one drop the puck if you did not exist? No game could be played as no game could begin.

When a goal is scored, we return to you to begin a quest for another. When a penalty shot is awarded, we again look to you for placement of the rubber disc that will determine the victor between valiant shooter and noble goalkeeper.

To cross your border is to enter safety; here we are on the attack and can dump the puck at will. To fail to reach your perimeter is to meet the cruel fate of icing; a fate that begets tired legs attempting to defend one’s goal as a knight attempts to defend his castle.

Perfectly drawn rectangles of white checker your crimson radiance, interrupted only at the center where a blue dot quietly rests. Here gladiators come face to face; warriors branded as “centerman” leave the safety of their army’s bench and gain the first glimpse into the eyes of their opponent at your boundary.

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Enthusiasts of the game callously refer to certain match-ups as being played “with no red line” as if such a thing could even exist. No red line you say? Bah! What rubbish! Technically speaking, the term should be “no two-line pass violation is in play,” as one can now freely make a pass from his defensive end to an awaiting teammate on yonder side of your presence.

Indeed it was restricting to have such a regulation in place, however to fault you for the misguided rule is a violation in its own right. You were but an innocent bystander who served as the scapegoat for political merchants serving up dishes of rules that existed for no other reason than to have a rule in place.

You sit in hockey arenas across the globe, yet we find it unavoidable to take you for granted. To that end, oh unfaltering line of red, we thank and salute you. For without you, where would we be? We would exist in a world of chaos, with no markings in place to determine enemy lines and create the necessary separations to do battle.

Without you we simply could not subsist. Thank you, oh red line, for all that you do. It is your presence that makes us complete.

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The Author:

Joe Scaringi