My newest bestie: A follow-up to Because Hockey

CarreyThere’s a scene in “The Cable Guy” where the needy, clingy and downright frightening Jim Carrey tries to secure his fledgling friendship with the far more subdued Matthew Broderick.  It is at that moment that Broderick tells Carrey he “just doesn’t have room for any more friends.”

That was pretty much the way I felt about hockey.  As an avid baseball, basketball and football fan, sprinkled in with some tennis, golf and boxing, I just didn’t have room for any more friends.  Sports had consumed enough of my life.  Far be it from me to allow another to compete for my attention.

Along came hockey.

Hockey was neither needy nor clingy and to be perfectly honest, hockey could probably care less whether I paid attention or not.

Hockey was foreign to me.  It provided rules and terminology with which I was totally unfamiliar.  Roughing is a penalty?  If you ask me, the entire sport looks like roughing.  I can’t skate, I don’t fight, I have all my teeth, I don’t speak French and I can’t grow a beard.  Hockey therefore represented a culture that was totally new.

But the Tampa Bay Lightning sucked me in.

IMG_4700Never before had I watched as many as five hockey games in a single season and certainly not in their entirety.  This season, I attended about fifteen games including the playoffs.  If it wasn’t for work, I wouldn’t have missed a moment and even then I sneaked peeks when I could.

The reasons for not allowing hockey into my life were purely selfish.  I wasn’t sure what hockey brought to the table.  Ten years ago, in another run to the Stanley Cup, I watched the Lightning but more as a distant observer, a loiterer who was invited to the party for the free food and drink.

This time around, I had a far more vested interest.

Hockey was a fun friend, different from the others I had known all my life.  Hockey was cold, hard, fast, violent and determined.  Hockey provided something different.  For example, it’s rare for me to go to a sporting event and know less about the sport I’m watching than the people around me.  That was the case with hockey.  As entertaining as that was, it was always an evening of educational humility.

The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to what proved to be the better team.  In doing so, they united a community.  There wasn’t a person I’ve talked to in this town over the past two months, and I’ve talked to a lot, that wasn’t following this team’s every move.

They did well, very well.

Soon enough they’ll do better.

And a town full of people will be watching.  Rest assured I’ll be one of them.

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20 Replies to “My newest bestie: A follow-up to Because Hockey”

  1. Welcome to the circus Chump…Hockey is a beautiful thing. No pussy calls like soccer or the NBA with divas crying about phantom fouls or Vlade-like flopping. This is a man’s sport.

    Once you get past the Fargo-esque accents of most commentators, hockey is downright addicting…Going to live games is like taking your first hit of a crack pipe…Not that I know what that’s like, but I imagine it’s just as euphoric.

    I had friends that were big Kings fans as far back as Rogie Vachon and Tiger Williams, but I truly became a fan when we got Gretzky and my dad had season tickets when we lost in the Finals with Wayne, Blake, Robatille, Hrudey and the crew.

    The similarities between basketball will help you along with fast breaks and such…The lines, icing and the intricacies will come in time…Hell, I still don’t know all the rules to tell you the truth…But I know competition and hockey has a puckload of that. Glad you popped your cherry.

    GO KINGS!!

  2. Definitely looking forward to next season, Bleed.

    The Lightning are an easy team to root for and a fun team to watch.

    Most of my games this year were with a group of people so we sat nosebleeds, third level and only occasionally down low.

    Next year, I plan on splurging, venturing a little closer to the boards to hopefully get some blood on me.

    Because hockey.

  3. I came to the hockey party late, too, Chris. They play right to the limits of the rules and have great respect for their opponents and the history of their beloved sport, much moreso I feel than the other major league sports competitors do. And a hat trick to Vinik, Yzerman and Lieweke for putting tigether a wonderful product!!!

  4. I love playoff hockey. The intensity is off the charts. As far as regular season goes, I can’t get into it that much. Especially since nearly every team makes the playoffs. To me, the sport doesn’t begin until about when summer starts which is strange because it’s played on ice.

  5. Dawk…

    I went to about 10-12 regular season games this year. They were pretty fun. We’d get a huge group of people to go, get some nosebleeds, knock back a few brews and make a night of it.

    Once the post-season started, and continued, you could really feel the intensity in the place grow.

    With such a bright future for that franchise, I am already looking forward to next season.

    Might just be a harder ticket to get.

  6. Used to like to go to Thrashers games here in Atlanta before they bailed. Didn’t know anything about the game (still don’t) but was amazed at the speed of it. TV doesn’t do justice to how fast things are moving on the ice. Also didn’t mind hanging out drinking brewskis listening to friends who knew hockey tell me why play was stopped, etc

  7. Do you remember when, I think it was Fox, added that color trail on TV to make it easier for viewers to follow the puck?

    That has to go down with the greatest failed sports idea since the XFL.

  8. Totally off the subject but I’ve been a Tiger fan forever but Speith is a total I can hit it wherever I want to beast. Let’s hope he keeps his game going. I like the kid

  9. The Lightning had the fans eating from the palms of their hands, but then failed to deliver . Somehow I get the feeling their (Lightning) fans never had any respect for the Chicago Blackhawks and what the franchise (Blackhawks) had achieved in the past six years . Agree or disagree ?

  10. I will say this, Al.

    I’m not too sure the Lightning took the Blackhawks seriously enough.

    We talked about experience at the beginning of that series and wondered if it would come into play.

    It did. They Lightning may have been the more talented team in that series but it takes more than just talent when you get that deep into the post-season.

  11. If Stamkos showed up, TBL holds Lord Stanley. When LBJ was talking Dellavedova ‘grit’…….he shudda realized that word was reserved for Kucherov.

  12. I don’t believe they (Tampa Bay Lightning) were as talented as the Chicago Blackhawks ! What I do believe is , the Lightning were complacent and when they realized Chicago were good enough to get the job done , it was way too late for them to get the ball rolling / puck going. The Tampa Lightning front office will have to build a more robust roster to complement the skill-set of Steve Stamkos. Agree or disagree ?

  13. Here’s how my annual “love affair” with hockey goes, Chris. I don’t watch the regular season because – in part – I can’t stand overtimes and shootouts. I always felt ties were just fine. Besides, there is college and pro football and college basketball until April…when of course the Stanley Cup playoffs start. Suddenly, I’m watching as many freaking hockey games as I can stay awake for and for two plus months you would swear I am Peter Puck. (are you old enough for that reference…?) Anyway…I’m Hockey Super Fan in April, May and June. Once the final buzzer sounds I swear to myself next year will be different. I’ll carve out a place for hockey among college and pro football and college basketball and stick with it from start to finish. And then I don’t. It doesn’t exist again until next April. There is nothing like the Stanley Cup playoffs. And indeed, I love hockey in person. I just can’t commit from training camps in Labor Day through mid-June. The other sports just mean more to me. But at least I’ll always have the Stanley Cup playoffs to look forward to when they come around…and I’ll be the best fan I can be the entire run.

  14. I went to about fifteen Lighting games this year, Burnsy.

    We’d get a whole bunch of friends liquored up on whiskey and hop on the Ybor City trolley that takes us right to the doorsteps of Amalie Arena.

    Tickets were reasonable and readily accessible.

    Apparently the team didn’t even raise ticket prices for next year so I imagine much of the same good times will continue in the 2015-16 season.

  15. Pingback: Unfinished business: Tampa Bay Lightning begin quest for the Cup | Sports Chump

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