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Sarah Palin, world's most famous hockey mom, drops politics for the puck tonight

October 11, 2008 |  1:10 am

This is the opening weekend of the National Hockey League season and the fourth-to-last weekend of this endless presidential season.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's Miracle on Ice poster

So naturally the two phenomena come together with the world's most famous hockey mom, Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, dropping the official puck in Philadelphia before the Flyers take on the New York Rangers tonight.

So what if most of the players in the game aren't American and can't vote? It's great TV and showbiz.

And Palin's proud public profession at the Republican National Convention of being a doting mom in a rough sport that so often feels otherwise overlooked has endeared her to many of its followers. Now, all she needs to do is turn some of that into votes.

A hockey mom is much like a soccer mom or mothers in any other sport, always there cheering and finding something good to say after every game, even the 8-0 blowouts.

But hockey moms are more often found making breakfast at 4 a.m. Saturdays before the 5:30 practice. And ensuring the smelly gear is airing out in the garage. And nursing the bumps and bruises that come from falling onto 1.5 inches of ice atop a foot of frozen concrete.

And in some states like Montana, Minnesota and Alaska, they're found standing at outdoor rink sides, stomping their feet and cheering before rushing back to a warm car between periods.

According to Nielsen, hockey moms (or at least those moms who watch hockey on TV) were 39% more likely to watch the vice preHockey grandpas signal their support for Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palinsidential debate with Palin than were regular moms.

According to USA Hockey, the 70-year-old umbrella organization in Colorado Springs, Colo., that oversees amateur U.S. hockey, nearly 400,000 youth players were registered to play last year, including some 57,000 girls, a 5% annual jump. Including junior players and adults, total membership is around 600,000.

Palin will no doubt make an effort to shake the hand of Scott Gomez, one of the Ranger co-captains and a native of Anchorage, that suburb of Wasilla.

Palin will actually have help dropping the puck at tonight's game in Philadelphia. Not that the 7-ounce chunk of frozen rubber is so heavy. But the Flyers have been running a contest to find the ultimate local hockey mom.

So they'll share the duties and spotlight at center ice. Then, they both better get out of the way.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Robyn Beck / AFP-Getty Images