Thursday, June 16, 2011

Remembering What It's Like

Not much hockey talk happens around here, because unless we were some of those kids being taken to the rink at 5AM, twenty years of following a crappy team isn't a good way to develop a strong relationship with the sport.

That's why this week, I'm really happy that the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.  Not that I'm a big hockey guy or pretend to be one.  Really, my connection with hockey starts with being from Wilmington (the town where the Bruins have practiced forever) and ends with the Franchise's brothers, my roommate, and listening to the new sports radio station here in Boston.  But it's people like this who this championship really means something to.

Unlike baseball, football, and especially basketball, where the sports really can be followed and liked by the casual fan, for as long as I've lived in New England, I've considered the hockey fan completely different.  Hockey fans know the sport, and hockey fans follow the sport.  Similar to hockey players (let's just say that JD Drew and 46 don't exist in hockey), hockey fans don't preen around.  At least not around here.  They care.  A lot.  They will watch the inconsequential Thursday night game on NESN.  While I might watch the inconsequential Thursday night baseball game on NESN, I am more than the average baseball fan.  The average hockey fan does.  And that's why I'm happy for them.

The way the average hockey fan feels right now is the way that I felt in 2004.  The guys in their 30s and 40s who don't remember the 1972 championship are similar to the guys in their 60s who weren't alive for 1918.  Instead of the whole thing being about 86 years, it's amplified by the fact that these guys have a screw loose in the first place.  You have to be a little weird to be doing that ice time crap before the sun rises from the age of seven.  Both of the Franchise's brothers did this, as did my roommate.

I can't say I'm happy for myself, because I am sane enough to admit that I've only felt the frustration of being a Bruins fan since the Felger Channel (otherwise known as 98.5 The Sports Hub) came along the radio waves.  There are a lot of people like me, and I hope that unlike the Red Sox fans who were late to the party, they are also brave enough to admit it.  In fact, I think the coverage on 98.5 has helped immensely toward making hockey matter in Boston again.  I was frustrated and pissed off about last year and the year before, but it didn't eat at me the way years like 2003 and 1999 did as a baseball fan.  Hockey fans - it did.  Listening to Felger talk, and listening to the fatalism set forth by the Franchise's brothers, you could tell that kind of stuff.  I didn't help by adding my sarcastic refrain of the team's old "It's Called Bruins" slogan, but that's the way it was.

People congratulated me in particular when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.  And I remember how happy I felt.  That's the way those hockey fans feel right now.  While I want to thank Felger, my roommates, and the Franchise's brothers for getting me to tune into the last 2-3 years of hockey coverage and the moderate elation I got last night when that team won, this one's about them.  Congratulations to the real hockey fans out there.  I don't have the nerve to say that I feel the way you feel today, but I do remember what it's like.

6 comments:

Ross Kaplan said...

DV, I like that kind of fan much more than the one who didn't even know the Stanley Cup playoffs were still going on and then proceeded to write something on their Facebook wall like "WOOO I LOVE THE BRUINS!!! LOL OMG. CUE THE DUCKBOATS"

Anonymous said...

Ross,

Could you give some examples of such facebook posts? Because I know all your Boston friends and none us had that posted.

Yes that's right. I'm calling you out. It's the dog days of June, and nothing can revitalize a June blog post like a Kaplan/Bandi showdown.

the gm at work said...

Ross,

What I'm saying is that there are a lot more out there who fit my criteria compared to those who fit yours. While after the Red Sox won, there were already a ton of the people typing that garbage while on October 27 they were watching something else on television, most of the people who would be posting that on June 15 would actually be watching the game attentively.

I mean, I watched enough Bruins hockey this year to know definitively that Shawn Thornton rarely WON a fight after nobody on the Bruins lost a fight in 09-10. But your average Bruins fan is freaking nuts.

I talked to an account manager today in Chicago, and he said their fans are the exact same way with the Blackhawks. For some reason, while the NBA is the self-titled Smash Mouth album and the MLB and NFL are Astro Lounge on the sellout scale, the NHL has somehow retained the spirit of Fush Yu Mang.

(Look up the Smash Mouth discography to figure out what I'm talking about.)

Ross Kaplan said...

Jon, unlike Joe McCarthy I will not be naming names, but you can be assured there are such people out there. It's Boston fans like you and DV I can actually respect. Despite living in New England for most of his life Jon was able to resist rooting for the Patriots and kept cheering for his former hometown team Raiders. Aditionally, I know Jon is not much of a baseball fan, but I'm pretty sure he bought his infamous MVPapi shirt and pretends to cheer for the Red Sox just to spite me and that is a commitment that I must respect.

Anonymous said...

I will freely admit that the cup final game was the first hockey game i have ever watched in its entirety the only close one to that was usa vs canada last year but i shut that off before it ended it was more exciting then i expected it to be even though i had very little invested in it but now i know one thing, and i must apologize to hockey for ever comparing it to soccer, as soccer is easily a more awful sport.

Jason

John said...

DV,

Agree entirely. I think another thing that has helped hockey immensely was the lockout. Nobody cared about it before the lockout, and even right after it came back it still was not very popular. However a bunch of rule changes made it much more exciting and helped it appeal to the more casual sports fan(hoping to turn them in to hockey fans). I will readily admit that I wasn't a hockey fan up until a few years ago, but in the past few years have really gotten in to it. I'm well aware that having a good team in the Bruins helped enormously, but now good or bad, I will be following hockey much more closely than I would have immediately before/after the lockout.