Archive for the ‘Why I love’ Category

Sometime in the fall of 1985, I rode my bike to the card shop across town as an 8 year old. I used to save up my allowance and go there once a month to buy a few packs box of the latest Football, Baseball, even Basketball cards. The older guy behind the counter knew me by name and greeted me as I walked in the door. We used to make small talk about sports, as much as you can with an 8 year old anyway. The shop was lined with memorabilia from San Diego sports icons like Tony Gwynn, Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow. It was football season, and I was intent on buying a box of Topps NFL cards. Something happened that day though.

In the “What’s New” section of the small shop, I laid eyes on something I hadn’t seen before: Hockey Cards. My interest peeked and I decided to buy a box. I put it in my backpack and raced home to open them. I was instantly drawn to the photographs of these often toothless, mullet-headed warriors (no, these weren’t REO Speedwagon concert photos), and I especially thought the goalies equipment and masks looked cool. I started counting the days until I could ride back to the card shop and buy another box, and within 3 months of dedicated collecting, I had completed the entire set of Topps 1985-86 NHL Hockey cards.

I loved looking at the pictures on cards but still didn’t know anything about the sport. We lived in a neighborhood without cable and there was no hockey on network TV at the time. Right after Christmas day 1985, we moved to a new neighborhood – one with cable. Our cable provider at the time carried the original Prime Ticket network, TV home of the Los Angeles Kings. I was able to watch hockey on TV for the first time, and I was instantly hooked. I remember the old Forum Blue and Gold jerseys, Dave Taylor, Bernie Nicholls, Jimmy Carson and a rookie named Luc Robitaille who’s name wasn’t pronounced like it was spelled. I looked forward to the TV broadcasts, with Bob Miller on play by play and Nick Nickson as the color analyst. Back in those days it was a simulcast – same two guys on both TV and radio. The Kings weren’t a very good team, but they were my team. I started to lose interest in other sports – I wanted to watch hockey.

The playoffs that year weren’t kind to the Kings, but I knew I wanted to be a goalie the minute I saw Patrick Roy play a game for the Montreal Canadiens – the one and only favorite player I’ve ever had that wasn’t a King. I started telling kids at my new school that I was Canadian – eh? I figured it would give me more hockey cred, right?

In 1988 the Kings made maybe the biggest trade in the history of all sport, acquiring Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, from the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings would beat the Oilers in the playoffs that year, but lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames in the second round. The following season the Kings traded Mark Fitzpatrick and Wayne McBean to the Islanders for goalie Kelly Hrudey. Hrudey wore a funky helmet, and always wore a blue headband made of blue hockey undergarments. He had long hair flowing out the back of his helmet (yes, it was a mullet). I painted my street hockey helmet like Hrudey’s and started mimicking his movements in street hockey games with my friends. I used to tune into an LA Radio station called Pirate Radio that used to play the “Hrudey’s On Duty Tonight” song on their morning show. During games at the old Great Western Forum in Inglewood, fans would chant “HRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDEEEEEY!” every time Kelly made a big save.

 

Former Kings Goalie Kelly Hrudey

 

It was hard to get game tickets at the Forum during the Gretzky days. LA was on fire for hockey. I was fortunate enough, through teammates of mine who had parents that were fans, to get to go to quite a few games there. You could always spot former King goalie and then General Manager Rogie Vachon outside at intermission smoking a cigar, and Rogie was always quick to offer up and handshake and a “hi kid!”.

In 1993, the Kings went to the Stanley Cup final – against Montreal and my goaltending idol Patrick Roy. I was fortunate to get to go to a game in all of the first 3 series’ of that playoff year. Finals tickets sold out so fast that we were unable to get our hands on any. The Kings would lose that finals series 4 games to 1. It was painful to watch, but getting to observe Roy’s near flawless goaltending eased the pain just a bit. Each of the games was a close contest. I was sure the Kings would be back to claim the Cup.

17 years later, I’m still waiting! Times since Gretzky’s departure have been lean for my beloved Kings. I am not a fair weather fan though, and I have continued to support the team through thick and thin. It’s been painful but my pride has yet to wane. There’s been some high points too – I was at every home game during the 2001 playoff run that included the Frenzy on Figueroa – a comeback from down 3-0 to Detroit to win in OT in game 3 of that first round series – and game 6 of that series in which Adam Deadmarsh beat Chris Osgood in OT to eliminate the Red Wings. The Kings would take the eventual champion Colorado to 7 games that year, and again in the first round the following spring.

The years have been lackluster since, but my love for this hockey team remains strong. We have the most die hard, knowledgeable fan base on the West Coast. Staples Center during the playoffs is an atmosphere like no other place on Earth. We Kings’ fans have suffered long, but our suffering is over. Dean Lombardi has this team on the right track. The Kings are going to be a Stanley Cup contender for years to come now, with a core of youngsters like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Wayne Simmonds, Dustin Brown and (you know I wouldn’t leave the goalies out!) Jon Quick and Jonathan Bernier in goal. The future is bright.

Last season my Kings made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. I got chills during the pre-game presentation, and I admit I cried when they showed a Bob Miller speech on the playoffs over the jumbotron, and my eyes were definitely wet when the boys took the ice to the sound of AC/DC’s “Back In Black”. The crowd at Staples was so loud you couldn’t hear PA Announcer David Courtney introduce the team! When the Kings lost game 6 of that series and were eliminated, I was working in Delaware and I cried in my hotel room. It’s more than just a hockey team to me. It’s my heart and soul.

 

The Kings' Score Against Vancouver in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs

 

I will be a Los Angeles Kings fan until they bury me. I will loathe Anaheim until they move that team elsewhere. Now that the Ducks suck, there won’t be anyone left at Honda Center save the road team fans – unlike us, the Kings’ faithful who have been with the team through a lot of lottery picks!

We will all be rewarded soon. I am awaiting the day I am in the crowd at Staples, watching Kings’ captain Dustin Brown take the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Preferably more than once!

It’s been a long time coming for this Kings’ fan. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need a Kleenex!

-J

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If anyone has ever questioned why you love your team, you give them reasons for that love. Some are as simple as, ‘I’ve grown up with hockey in my family’ or ‘My family is from the area, so I became a fan’. However, I can not give you those reasons for why I love the San Jose Sharks. I don’t have simple reasons or answers why. Sometimes, I’m not even sure what it is that I love about this team. I just do. There’s a love there that is undeniable, unmatched, unrequited, unmeasurable and just about every other UN you can think of.

Not only do I live in California; where people look at us and say “Ohmigod, there’s hockey in California?” But I live in Northern California. Sacramento to be exact, where we have the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Monarchs Basketball. The only hockey close to me is at a local rink made up of 40 something year olds who could have only dreamed to be in the NHL. So while growing up with little to no NHL connection, I still managed to fall in love with the team from the Bay Area.

Now, this love all started on January 24, 1998. Yes a mere 12 years ago. My parents had just made the move to Seattle and the following August, I was to join them. More on that later though. ūüôā To be honest, I don’t remember much about my first game. I just know that my aunt and I were sitting in the upper bowl of what was then known as the San Jose Arena. As a wide-eyed 13 year old, my aunt pointed out the Sharks Head and simply said “Just watch”

 

Shark Head

 

Now, if any of you have been to a game at what is now HP Pavilion, you’ll know that they lower the Sharks Head to the ice and the players skate through with smoke coming from it. To me, it’s the best entrance to a game out there. Anyways, to make a long story from getting too long. My wandering eyes found their way to one player on the ice. His movement was glorious and passionate. It captured my eye and I have not looked back since. Now, he did not score any goals that night, nor did he get an assist. In fact, I don’t think he showed up on the score sheet at all. The Sharks tied the game that night, when ties were still allowed. John MacLean scored the goal for us that night.

Before I tell you all who this player is, I just have to say that I love this player with all things in me. It does not matter that he is no longer on this team, or that I’ve never met him. His love for the game is the same as my love for this team. Der Mann, begann es alle f√ľr mich, und mein ganze Herz hat, ohne es zu wissen, ist Marco Sturm.

My love of this team continued even while living in cities such as Seattle and Phoenix. Yes, Phoenix. Coyotes country. So, I do hold a soft spot for them because Phoenix was my home for 3 years. Now while in Seattle, I was able to get my hockey fix by watching the Seattle Thunderbirds. Just the year before I moved to Seattle, current Shark and ex-captain, Patrick Marleau was on the Thunderbirds. Now, I never got to see him play, but I was able to watch Scott Parker play for the team as well as see ex-Shark , Brad Stuart play for the Regina Pats.

But now, at 26, my unrequited love has never waivered. It has stuck with me through 12 years of amazing seasons (03/04 & 09/10) to the NHL lockout. I keep all of my game tickets from every game that I attend and still have my very first one.

 

Very First Hockey Game

 

Over the years, I’ve had my players come and go. It took me a while to learn that was a part of the game. So, if you ask me why I love the San Jose Sharks, I will just pull out all my old game tickets and memories over the past 12 years. From the 5 on 3 against Edmonton where both Scott Hannan and Mark Smith lost their sticks to my very first game.

This is why I love the San Jose Sharks and no other team.

Continuing with the theme of ¬†talking about our favorite teams and how it all started, I have to go back to 1994, The Blue Jackets, weren’t even thought of, heck, I was only 5. Me¬†having¬†never watched hockey before, I saw on¬†TV, this strange creature, he was about 2 times the size of a normal man, I didn’t even think it was a man¬†(Yes back then imagination was all the rage.) until he lifted up his mask.

 

The mask that started it all

 

From that day when I was little watching on tv and seeing this unique¬†piece¬†of art that I thought was some kind of monster, I followed this sport that¬†back¬†then, I knew little about, but I loved goalies and the unique masks they wore.But of course, my favorite hockey player of all time is, Curtis Joseph, he is the one guy no matter what, I’ve followed him, but we came here to get on the important topic, The Blue Jackets, right?

During the 2003-2004 season, I was watching the Red Wings (of which I used to be a HUGE fan of), and I saw this team from Columbus, and they had 2 guys that I thought were pretty cool. They were also two of the first guys to make me like the Blue Jackets, in Rick Nash and Marc Denis.

 

Rick Nash

 

Nash was just a spectacle on ice, he was a big guy but he could out skate almost anyone, and he just seemed to command the puck when he had it. And Denis, he wasn’t the best goalie, but he gave his all every night to try to get a win for this CBJ team. But both of them kept me interested in this new team.

As I started to look up more on this team¬†and¬†as the season went on, I started to transition, I grew more and more disinterested in the Red Wings (Well… everyone except Cujo), and found myself rooting more for Columbus. But one problem, I had no TV channels that would carry CBJ games, so I had to resort to the radio.

 

George Matthews, Play By Play Man For The CBJ.

 

As I started to listen to Blue Jackets games, I loved listening to the Play by Play of Mr. George Matthews, he can make any game sound exciting, not to mention, has some quotes that still stick in my head (one mostly, “Hoot toot da boot Denis!”¬†referring¬†to a kick save made by Marc Denis) He is one of the reasons I love the Blue Jackets, he brings an energy to the radio broadcasts that you just don’t find many other places.

Then during a long, lockout effected offseason, I bought my first NHL jersey, and what did I choose? Of course, a Columbus Blue Jackets Alternate, which the next season, became the normal jersey for the team (with a  few alterations). To put this in perspective, I was a Wings fan for 11 years, never bought a jersey of theirs, one year after becoming a Blue jackets fan, I bought one. That should tell you how I feel about this team.

The reasons to love this team is… well… ¬†the team is just exciting on the ice, we are unpredictable, and it’s the unpredictable ones you have to be aware of the most, right? We are not a team to be underestimated, we will not be pushed around, and we will fight, no matter how tough the¬†opponent.

I’ve been there through the great times (first playoffs, big wins), I’ve been there through the tough times (Mr. Mac’s Passing, Missing the playoffs, extended losing streaks.) And I will not quit on this team, this is not a bandwagon for me, when I decided to become a Blue Jackets fan, this isn’t just when it’s¬†convenient¬†and when we are winning, this is for better, and for worse.

Just like the men on the ice, the jersey I wear is one im proud to wear, and I will continue to carry this flag until my dying day, and you can bet, you will see us in the playoffs again, and beware, this time, the cannon will be firing, and it will make the NHL will take notice.

 

 

Why I Love The Penguins

Posted: October 9, 2010 by JoeyD in NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Why I love
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Continuing our introduction with the writers here at Crimespree, I will share why I love the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hockey could be considered to me a never ending Christmas gift as I went to my first game December 27, 1984 at a mere four years old.¬† The Penguins played host to the Hartford Whalers and won 4-0. Of course, this was during Mario’s rookie year but Mario was nowhere to be found on the scoresheet. John Chabot scored twice and Roberto Romano had a shutout.¬† When the game finished my Dad said let’s go to the restroom then we will head home. I immediately started throwing a fit, screaming “I don’t wanna go home, I wanna go down there and play hockey!!”¬† Everyone in my section proceeded to laugh quite heartily. That night, a lifelong hockey fan was born.

The following summer, Mario had an autograph signing at a local mall. Being an inattentive five year old, I must not have fully grasped that I was in the presence of a local hero, as I was more interested in being a silly kid. So while my dad was having a quick talk with Le Magnifique, out from under the table piped yours truly with an ADD style epiphany…”HEY DAD, THIS GUY GOT NO SOCKS ON!” Again, I was able to entertain quite a throng of people. You see “Ace” (Ian Moran’s future nickname for Mario) was wearing a pair of shorts and a pair of loafers…remember this was the 80s so have fun picturing this one.¬† The best part was, of all the people I made laugh with that statement, Mario was one of them, I made Mario laugh!

The photographer there ended up taking a picture of me and Mario. Unfortunately, despite my Dad’s best efforts the photographer was unwilling to give us a copy of the picture. So somewhere out there is a picture of me and my friend, Mario Lemieux. Any one of us could bump into him nowadays and politely ask for a picture, but to be a mere tyke and getting a picture with him before he was even able to drink in this country would easily top any picture with Santa. Oh about the autograph? I still have the mini hockey stick, and it is my most cherished physical possession.

Over the years, I have been to quite a number of Penguins games. For several years in the 80s we had a half season ticket plan.¬† Once the Penguins were getting more popular and more productive on the ice the decision was made to have a requirement to purchase a full season. Finances dictated that we had to drop the Penguins and keep only our Steelers tickets.¬† Games became a little more sparse until the beginning of the Penguins Student Rush Program.¬† Using the Student Rush I went to at least half of the home games in the awful 03-04 season.¬† That year the Pens averaged less than 12,000 attendance, but those were some of the loudest and most animated crowds you can see without having a playoff atmosphere.¬† The numbers were low, but they were passionate. And I was there…alot, so dont even think of calling me some Sidney Sweepstakes bandwagoner…cause I wont respond kindly, lol.¬† In fact that year we had around 20 of us at the final home game that season for a friend’s Bachelor Party, it was the first time we did the Shirts Off Our Backs promotion, and the crowd ate it up.¬† We also had a chant at the end of the game…..”WE GET OVECHKIN”…we played the Caps that afternoon…None of us know where our paths were really going that day….not at all.

But there was one¬† thing I did know, I’ll ride that path where ever it takes me, and enjoy every minute of it. Luv Ya, Black and Gold!

This is a series where the Crimespree writers will write why they love their favorite team.

Wayne Gretzky. I was only one year old when Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, but he is easily a player that I can attribute to my love for hockey and the Kings. I can also thank my uncles for getting me into the game. Watching playoff games in the garage of my grandparents house is one of the things I remember best. 1993 was the closest to the Stanley Cup the Kings have been and as a six-year-old, all I knew was that I loved this team and I wanted them to be Champions. I never attended a live game until preseason in 2005. It was against the “Mighty” Ducks. Going to a live game made me love the sport even more, and I became even more of a crazy puckhead.

When Luc Robitaille became President of Buisness Operations in 2007, he brought the fans closer to the team. Hockey Fest became an annual event that got us an inside look of the organization, letting fans interact with Kings Management, Players and Alumni. It’s definitely an event that makes you feel like you are a part of the team.

The rivalry with the Anaheim Ducks makes going to Kings vs Ducks games interesting. The fans don’t like each other in the least bit, and its usually a “who can cheer louder in the other teams house” battle, with the occasional fight. It’s bound to happen sooner or later when you get these two fan-bases together. The rivalry was named the Freeway Face-Off in the 2007-08 season, with the loser of the season series donating to the winning teams charity. Every season, Kings fans travel to Anaheim for the “Duck Roast,” making the Ducks arena sound like a Kings home game. I have yet to participate in the Duck Roast, but it’s definitely on my list.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Present day Kings. A few changes in Kings Management with a new head coach and assistant coach (Terry Murray and John Stevens) and the man with the plan, Dean Lombardi, the eight year playoff drought came to an end in the 2009-10 season. It looked like the Kings rebuilding stage was finally coming to an end. I was lucky enough to go to the first home playoff game at Staples Center last season, and I have never felt so much energy and excitement. The building was so loud you couldn’t hear the goal horn. It’s something I hope to experience many more times in the upcoming years. Players like Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty give hope to the organization and its fans. Drew Doughty is coming off of a successful sophomore season, winning Olympic Gold, gaining playoff experience and being a Norris Trophy finalist. All at 20 years old. The young team is exciting to watch and they are giving us a reason to cheer again.


Drew Doughty

I love this team more than I can possibly explain, and I hope to see them lift many Stanley Cups.

This is a series where the Crimespree writers will write why they love their favorite team.

Growing up, Flyers hockey was always a part of my life.  I grew up watching the Flyers on PRISM & Philly 57 with my dad and playing hand hockey during intermission.  He took me to games at the Spectrum every so often, and seeing the game live definitely kept me hooked.  As I grew up, my buddy and I would play roller hockey in my basement after school and pretend we were Eric Lindros, Rod Brind’Amour, John LeClair, and so on.

If you‚Äôve ever been to Philly for a game, you know that it gets wild.¬† There‚Äôs a reason why The Hockey News ranked us the #1 craziest fans in the league.¬† Most nights you can feel the electricity from pre-game all the way through the final buzzer.¬† We‚Äôre passionate, knowledgeable; sometimes a little out of control, but that‚Äôs part of what makes us Philly fans.¬† We‚Äôre a rare breed.¬† We‚Äôre going to yell in your face during the game, and then afterwards we‚Äôll split some beers. ¬†One story going back to the Spectrum was that the fans were so loud during warmups, that the visiting team could hear them in the locker room. (more…)