As a sports fan growing up on Long Island, hockey was easily the fourth (and potentially the fifth or sixth – taking into account golf and lacrosse) most popular sport to follow and play. Yet, last weekend, on a rainy and cold day, in spite of it being the first weekend of the NBA playoffs, game 5 of the Chicago Blackhawks/Nashville Predator series caught my attention. As Chicago scored with 14 seconds remaining and then won in overtime, I found myself, a diehard NBA guy, cheering out loud, raising my arms and screaming “YES” when Hossa scored the game winner.
In the moments after, as I flicked through my cable channels looking for another playoff game, I began to wonder,” What the hell are you doing? Hockey???” But as a lifelong believer in trusting your instincts, it hit me that I wanted to talk about hockey the next day at work like I grew up playing it every day on a pond in Minnesota; like the first pictures of me included a knit Montreal Canadians beanie; and that my first visit to the dentist came as a result of catching a slap shot in the teeth as my dad recounted a Guy Lafluer game winner. Boiled down, I wanted to learn everything about the game. And so the seeds for an adventure were planted.
What would my life be like if for the next year I ate, drank and breathed hockey? Would I still be as fascinated by this sport that moves at breakneck speed? Could I talk hockey intelligently with seasoned fans? Would my dentist be excited or concerned?
So…starting today I will be the puck, to paraphrase Caddyshack (while working a 9-to-5 job and being a great husband and dad). My goal is straightforward: to learn about the players, the characters, the rituals and the history of this sport that has completely captured my imagination. But not just from my laptop or television. I want to learn by talking with the people that love the game and pass it from generation to generation (the fans), those that shape it (the players, team professionals/owners, the League), and those that bring it into our lives every day (the media that cover it).
And on a more personal level, I want to understand what it feels to fly around a rink, skate backwards, face a shot on goal, take a faceoff, and even get checked into the boards.
In a matter of minutes on a rainy April afternoon, hockey captured my imagination. I am excited to see how much it will change my life over the next 365 days. Please join me on this journey and help me. Suggests people that you think I should talk to, tell me stories about how hockey has affected you, and encourage me in any way possible.
Now let’s drop the puck and get this game started!!!!