There are games where it's difficult to imagine what I'll write about in View from Ice Level as I'm watching, listening, and shooting live from my portal to the NHL. Not every game has the majesty of a hat trick scorer or a brilliant celebration. Some games, like periods of the Penguins' 3-2 win over the Panthers, can be outright boring to photograph for stretches.
I can't control where the action takes place. I can't control where the goals are scored, who scores them, the way they celebrate them. So, even in a game featuring 71 combined shots and 17 high danger chances for the home team, I don't always have a great idea for what words will follow.
Sometimes, though, I see something at the very end of the game ... after 60 minutes and some overtime has passed. Sometimes, the dust settles from a celebration staged 200 feet from my position while a slew of Panthers pass my view as they comfort their goalie's path to the locker room. What's left of that dust, sometimes, can reveal everything.
If it hadn't been for Jake Guentzel's overtime winner, I would have taken a couple of quick photos of the game's ending and taken off for the locker room. But, I wanted to stick around to shoot the team's best goal scorer as he lifted a stick to the stands as they applauded him during the No. 1 star's curtain call.
So, Jake kept me around, but it was Sidney Crosby that led me to this View as he emerged from the dust.
[caption id="attachment_786893" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
The captain was the first one to approach linesman Lonnie Cameron after the game. Cameron, who worked his 1,500th game earlier this year, announced he would retire at the end of this season. Crosby's reaction to Cameron at the end of the game looked a lot like it was his final stop in Pittsburgh nearing the end of his lengthy career. Only fitting it occurred as the Penguins celebrated Matt Cullen's 1,500th NHL game.
Cameron and Crosby embraced with smiles and laughs while the rest of the team celebrated and I tried to think of an occurrence in the game which would cause the two to embrace like that -- a bit unusual for a player and an official.
[caption id="attachment_786894" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
That's when the rest of the team lined up behind where Crosby stood ... a handshake line similar to the end of a playoff series. Then I realized he must be nearing retirement and it forced me to look into what became this View. I looked up a bit on Cameron, found his 1,500th game ceremony, saw how he was honored at a couple of Canadian rinks and then I saw another photo I took in the middle of the game.
[caption id="attachment_786896" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
I didn't remember it until I saw it again, but there was another hug with the official I felt was awkward in the moment. Before the drop of the puck of the third period, Cameron put his arm around Jared McCann and they drifted for a moment. At the time, I thought it must have been related to a second period dispute, but the reasoning came together after the game.
It's unfortunate when things come together for a View after the locker room has cleaned out. No chance to request a statement from Cameron. No chance to ask Crosby about their laughing embrace. But, sometimes ... that's just how this plays out. After all, I like to provide a view to the game you don't see on TV or while watching the team's postgame celebration.
I tracked Cameron as he prepared to leave the ice, a number of Penguins handshakes richer. I followed him to the zamboni doors where the referees always leave, and his crew was waiting for Cameron to lead them off. Helmet in hand, he stepped off the ice in Pittsburgh.
[caption id="attachment_786895" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]