When it comes to evolution, the public fishing pier has its own species of people, its own vocabulary spoken in an array of languages. Crazy experimental meets raw jaw traditional. Bartleby meets the Hunger Artist. Bass the fish meets bass the instrument. The tool belt and the apron meets the National Endowment for the Humanities. Meet up pro meets its maker.

But for my cryptocurrency, professional ice hockey, the National Hockey League in this case, offers some of the most salient evidence extant of two eco-evolutionarily important topics: globalization and climate change. 

Prior to the mid-1960’s, the National Hockey League consisted of six teams based in cold weather cities of North America: Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and the USA cities of New York, Chicago, Detroit and Boston.

Well over time as the polar ice caps melted and weather turned more extremes, professional ice hockey grew, and spread to warmer climes. In 1966 the NHL doubled in size, expanding from the Original Six to include the cities of Pittsburgh, Philly, Minnesota, St. Louis and, ominiously Oakland California and even more ominously Los Angeles.

That was then. As of this writing, in 2021, perfectly mapping the spread of climate change in North America, the National Hockey League now consists of the Original Six plus most of the 1966 teams plus teams representing the cities of Raleigh, North Carolina; Anaheim California; Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Las Vegas, Nevada, plus two teams in Florida, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. Environmental hellholes all. And Seattle just got a team, so that tracks well with environmental concerns in the Puget Sound area.

In 2004, the professional ice hockey team from Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup. Practically the Caribbean. The Stanley Cup. In 2015 they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stnaley Cup finals, but just five years later, in 2020, they won the Stanley Cup for the second time, and then they won it in 2021, soundly whipping the Montreal Canadians. That’s right, Tampa Bay beats the Club du Hockey. Again, the focus on the warmer climates as a new ice age both spreads and diminishes.

But speaking of Seattle, it is the legends who tell the story. Early in the 1980’s, 1983 maybe, 1984, one of the years Seattle had an NBA team, and one weeknight the Lakers were in town for a game. Appearing at Jazz Alley that same evening was the Cedar Walton Trio, Cedar Walton on piano, Billy Higgins on drums, and I think either George Duvivier or Rufus Reid on bass. The tastiest of music. About halfway through the second set Billy Higgins looked out over his kit across the audience toward the back of the room and gave a kind of heads up acknowledgment. So I turned to see who he was communicating with and it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who had just entered the club with a group.

© 2021 Randy Stark

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