October 23, 1999. The day my life changed forever.
I was spending my Saturday the way I usually spent them: getting up early to play a sport (it was soccer that day), then warming up the Super Nintendo attempting to beat Super Mario World until either I got frustrated with the game, the console overheated, or, the usual culprit, my 8:00 bedtime rolled around (sadly, my mom sold my Nintendo before I could beat the game). On this particular Saturday night, my parents approached me with the news that we were going to Nashville for the night for a church outing.
Outside, I nodded in understanding. Inside, I was fuming.
The hour long ride to Nashville seemed to take two. Whining to my parents was not an option, since they saw that as backtalk, and you didn't backtalk my parents. Eventually my attitude turned from furious to curious when I walked into the then-named Gaylord Entertainment Center. When I saw the arena floor, it dawned on me what was about to happen: I was about to see my first hockey game.
Outside of watching D2: The Mighty Ducks a few dozen times, my knowledge of hockey at the time was very limited. Even then, I remember how enamored I was over the next two and a half hours. It was much faster than traditional American sports, and it was action-packed, just the way I liked it. Nashville ended up beating Edmonton that night 4-3, and the Preds gained a fan that night. I was hooked.
As I'm sure you've gathered by now, I grew up in a very strict household, so with that came no cable television, internet, newspapers, or any source of the like that allowed to me keep up with the team. However, at the game I got my hands on the one of the wallet sized schedules by the ticket window, and there I discovered the games were aired on the radio. Up until I was sixteen, I was able to make it to only one game per season, so for the other 81, Pete Weber and Terry Crisp pretty much became my best friends. Most game nights I was able to listen to the first period without incident, but when bedtime rolled around, off went the stereo, out went the lights, and out came my walkman radio that I hid underneath my bed (I eventually had two backups, as my mom caught me on more than one occasion). Even at sixteen and licensed to drive, my mom dreaded the idea of me going to Nashville by myself, so it wasn't until I turned eighteen and moved on to college that I was able to attend more games.
I was a casual fan over the first eight years of being a hockey fan. I kept up with the team and listened to all of the games, but that was pretty much it. The turning point for me becoming a passionate hockey fan took place in 2008. However, the Preds nothing to do with it.
I took ROTC in high school for three years. During my senior year, myself and the rest of the seniors decided to take the corp of some sort of trip to celebrate our graduation. After much debate, we selected a spring break visit to our nation's capital. During the planning process, I randomly threw out the idea of attending a Caps game. The suggestion was well-received to my surprise, so I was left in charge of choosing which game to go to. I chose Washington-Carolina on April 1st, 2008.
Fast forward to that day. We walk into the Verizon Center... into a sea of red. Somehow I had failed to realize that the game we were about to witness had major playoff implications. Carolina was two points up on Washington in the division race, and Caps fans had packed the place and were deafening the entire game. Since we weren't wearing red, it was obvious we weren't from the area. Some fans were complete jerks since they assumed we were Carolina fans, but some fans actually inquired as to why we were at the game. Once some of those fans figured out I was a Preds fan, conversations started flying around on different topics, mostly concerning the Preds themselves, as most of the fans I talked to knew little to nothing about them. It was then I realized that I wasn't as knowledgeable a hockey fan as I knew I could be. I was having a hard time staying in the conversations, since I didn't know what they were talking about half the time. That, as well as the combination of the passion I saw from the crowd last night, made me bound and determined to become a better hockey fan. The Caps won convincingly that night (along with easily the greatest goal I've ever seen in person), and ended up sending Carolina in a tailspin that eventually had them on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrived the next week.
I was fortunate to be able to attend Game 4 of the Preds-Red Wings playoff series two weeks later. It was my second playoff game (I was at Game 1 of the previous year's series against San Jose when we lost in double OT). Ever since then, I've been trying to learn and understand everything about the best sport on the face of the planet. I am by no means an expert, but if I were to go back to Washington and try to have some of those same conversations that I had back then, I believe I would be able to hold my own.
- I don't expect to blow anyone away with my writing on this blog for two reasons: I have zero journalism/writing experience of which to speak of, and even though I've been a hockey fan since I was nine, there are still many aspects of the game of which I do not fully understand just yet. If I'm not 100% comfortable with bringing up a subject while holding a decent conversation about it afterwards, then I'll more than likely just keep my mouth shut.
- For now, posts will be few and far between, and probably probably be spur of the moment, much like the decision to create this blog was. My current job doesn't allow me to watch every single game as I would like to. I don't want my writing to sound even the least bit generic.
- I don't think of myself as a funny individual, and I'm rarely sarcastic. I like to try and get my point across as quickly as possible.I don't have snappy sounding features (yet), but I won't rule out the possibility of having something of the sort in the future. It all depends on how the whole blogging experience works out for me.
So there you have it. I'll be honest, I'm pretty nervous as to how this is going to work out. This type of thing is very new to me, so please bear with me while I figure things out. I welcome your comments/suggestions/criticism with open arms; I'm going to make mistakes, and I'm going to make stupid remarks. Hopefully some of you guys out there can keep me in line.