The other day Robby Stanley posted and article asking the questions "What does hockey mean to you?" (Article here hockeynightinnashville.com/2011/07/what-d…) A question that will evoke many a varied response. I encourage everyone to answer this question for themselves. Here is my answer:
I was born in New Jersey, specifically a little town called Burlington which is in Southern New Jersey right outside of Philadelphia. (It is also a town over from Bobby Ryan's hometown.) In fact the flyers practiced in the town of Marlton where my house was, one of the flyers lived in my neighborhood. My father follows one sports team, The New York Yankees, and relies on me to give him all the team updates. Even though my father didn't like sports, I had the bug. My neighbor was a die hard Philly sports fan, and had me at the practice arena early, I was autograph bait since he didn't have kids yet. All of my mom's brothers had season tickets to the Devils and the Rangers, I played the role of chick bait for them. What I'm trying to say here is I have been around hockey the majority of my life.
I always loved hockey, it had everything I wanted as a kid: fast speed, cold weather, and a bit of brutal violence. By the time I could walk I had a three in one set with soccer, hockey and some other sport I paid no attention to. In fact my first ever sports injury, as well as my first trip to the hospital came from playing hockey. One day my best friend and I were playing hockey on my deck, I was coming down the railing with the puck and all of a sudden, I feel stick across my face. In a motion that most gymnast would be jealous of, I flipped over that banister. My body pirouetted through the air, my landing was not so stunning. My face planted itself in to the hard ground with a resounding thud. My nose was broken, and to this day remains more crooked then a cop in a Mafia movie.
Then the dreaded move came, and my life in New Jersey was up rooted. We moved to Louisville, Kentucky where they thing hockey is some northern way of saying "hock a lugie." I did my best to keep my love for the game alive. I would watch games on tv, and practice stick work with the ash tray we kept in the house for when my aunt came over. Every once and a while, usually during the winter olympics, I could rally my friends to play some street hockey, but it looked like hockey was no longer going to be part of my life. Then by the grace of God, a game called Nhl Hitz came into existence. I bought it on release day and had my friends hooked with in an thirty seconds of the first game. The rest of that summer and through the next couple of years, hockey was our addiction. We went so far as to put down the video game to play actually hockey.
Unfortunately time took its toll and high school started to prevent us from having free time, so again hockey started to fall out of my life. Life continued on, I found a new form of hockey, called lacrosse. High School ended and I went to school at Murray State, which if you do not know is in the middle of a little hell called Western Kentucky. Yet somehow, the people that I became friends with are die hard hockey fans. My sport was back. In my Junior year of college I went to my first Predators game and found a team that played a gritty defensive game that I loved.
So to answer the question, hockey is part of who I am. It is part of my essence, my being. When I am at Bridgestone Arena or any hockey rink, I feel right, whole, happy. A psychologist would probably tell me that it is unhealthy to put so much hope and desire into a sports team, but what is life without disappointment. Hockey is everything that keep life from the mundane, it's speed and suspense, it's violent and vigorous, and it's poetic and passionate. To say that sports gives us nothing is ridiculous, through my love for Predator's hockey I have met some great people including Jeremy Gover of Cellblock 303, Kristopher Martel of the Predatorial as well as Andrea R. and Lizette of Bowling Green. Through playing the sport I have learned determination and patience. Through my blog writing and social interaction around the sport, I have learned how to do research far better then any school has taught me. Don't get me wrong, if hockey were to strike, my life would not be empty, far from it. But hockey runs deep in me and always will.
P.S. this article took me a week to write, it was a tough one.