Archive for the ‘Hockey memories’ Category

CapsChick of a View from the Cheap Seats shares her Earliest Hockey Memories

September 11, 2009

Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts
(A View from the Cheap Seats is in the stunning brigade of great Washington Capitals blogs and is rapidly becoming one of our favorites. How can you fault anyone after reading all of her great questionnaires (even if she was gullible enough to invite me). Hopefully Caps Chick doesn’t make a point to do TOO many of those great features or CLS might go out of business.

If … this was a business, that is.)
My dad moved to the Washington, DC area in 1974, the same year the Capitals came into existence. A Boston Bruins fan from his days in New England, he went to the very first preseason game ever held in the nation’s capital – and bought season tickets right then and there, beginning a love and a passion for the team that has spanned decades.

So you could say that being a Caps fan – or at least a hockey fan – wasn’t so much a choice as it was a birthright. I was indoctrinated right from the womb, really. There’s even a story that my mother would attend games while pregnant with me and I would proceed to kick to “Let’s Go Caps!”…I only kind of believe it.

(Editor’s Note: Somehow that’s not the first female blogger who relayed this story/anecdote as Wrap Around Curl also seemed to make this reference. Is it wrong to feel a little jealous about these puck based childhoods?)

That baby’s not just kicking, it’s making a kick save!

So my upbringing was a rather unique one, entirely Caps-centric in a city of Redskins fans – but it was ingrained in me from such a young age that it becomes hard to pick out just one memory that defines hockey’s place in my life. It’s really more of a collage of sights and sounds and events that turned me into the obsessive nutjob I’m proud to be today.

I remember my sister and I getting little replica jersey t-shirts from the Junior Fan Club and proudly wearing them as often as I could, begging to wear them to school and to bed and then wondering why they weren’t clean when I got to go to games. We had a pile of pom-poms in a basket in our basement, souvenirs of past playoff series that would occasionally make cameos in whatever make believe dress-up games we would be involved in on any given day; the number of times I pranced around with white plastic hair is too high to count. On the wall was a growth poster featuring a very young, very large Scott Stevens in full uniform and on skates. I remember gazing up at it and thinking he was a giant, an impression that was probably not helped by the fact that the poster was hung about a foot off the ground. Yet because of that poster Stevens was probably one of the first players I recognized just by looking at his face – and one of my earliest favorites for that exact reason.

Then there was the arena. Back then it was the Capital Centre, a place that often felt like a second home because of how much time we spent there and how comfortable it felt no matter how big and loud and potentially scary it could be (especially when Penguins fans were in town…ahem).

It had the strange, scooped-out roof that in my mind looked like it had been crushed by a giant rear end and the parking lots named after patriotic symbols like ‘Stars and Stripes’ and ‘Eagle’. There was the huge video screen in the middle of the arena, the first of its kind, and smaller computerized screens in the corner with funny little cartoons that acted out penalties or implored the crowd to cheer. The concourse smelled like popcorn and cotton candy and cigarette smoke – of course this was back in the days when you were allowed to smoke in arenas. And the building was always filled with noise of some kind or another, whether it was the organ or the cheering of the crowd or the wandering trumpeter who appeared in different sections throughout the game.

Back then I didn’t really understand the concept of “other teams” the way I do today. I knew I hated the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Devils and Islanders, but aside from a few select faces of evil (Lemieux, Hextall, Ulf Samuelsson, etc.) I couldn’t have named players even on those teams – and outside of the Patrick Division, forget it. Hockey was very personal to me. I honestly believed that when I went to a game or watched it on TV the Caps couldn’t possibly lose; if I cheered loud enough they would score. And when they got knocked out of the playoffs, as seemed to be their tradition, hockey ceased to exist until fall. I don’t even remember actually watching the Stanley Cup being awarded until the Rangers won it in 1994.

But I knew my boys. I knew guys like Miller, Ridley, Johansson, Langway and Hunter, knew their numbers and their on-ice personalities. And really that’s probably the strongest memory of them all – the players I grew up with, the ones who taught me to love the game and the Caps, and the ones I still idolize to this day.

Well…that or the hatred of the Penguins. It’s a toss-up.

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Jesse from Open Ice Hockey shares his Earliest Hockey Memories

September 3, 2009

Fantastic logo by Gray of Couch Tarts fame.

Admittedly, I had never heard about Open Ice Hockey until Jesse e-mailed me last week. From what I can tell, it is a fairly new site that is currently running season previews. Feel free to take a stroll around Open Ice Hockey and enjoy Jesse’s charming hockey memory. Good luck with the site/blog, Jesse!

For as long as I can remember, I have been a Maple Leafs fan. As a kid growing up in Northern Ontario, it was kind of forced upon me. Every year, my parents always got two sets of tickets to Maple Leaf Gardens, one set against the glass in the gold section, and one set of center ice reds.

It was the 1992 season, and I was sitting with my dad against the glass at the Gardens during the Leafs warmup. At the time, my heroes on the team were similar to other fans, as they boasted the likes of Gilmour, Clark, and Potvin. This day was a bit different however, as a lesser known player, Mike Krushelnyski, didn’t know that he would change a kids life with a small little gesture.

As the players were skating around, I was banging on the glass and yelling out all of the players names as they went by. When Mike went by, I couldn’t pronounce his name, and I guess he heard because he tapped on the glass with his stick as he went by. I asked my dad how to pronounce it, and when he came by the next time, I yelled it out properly. Once again, he must have heard, because he winked at me when he skated by, went and picked up a puck, and threw it over the glass to me.

When I told my mom what had happened, she told me that I should write him a letter thanking him for what he did. Little did I know then that it was a general letter that was sent back from the Leafs, but included was a signed photo of Krushelnyski. I got the picture framed and it still sits in my room to this day with the puck that he threw me.

Clare from All Hawks Hockey shares one of her Earliest Hockey Memories

August 27, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

(At this point, you are probably aware of Clare’s work at All Hawks Hockey. She’s been a big help during the big unruly League Re-Draft process and a friend of the blog for quite some time. Make sure to follow her as the Blackhawks approach one of their most important seasons in ages.)

Clare: “I love the Sabres so much I would wear my t-shirt when I practiced my violin.”

My father works as an usher for the Sabres, has for years and knew one of the guys in the ticket office. He worked in the same section every night, so some nights in an attempt to get me to love hockey close to as much as he did, he called the ticket guy and would see if there was a seat available in his section. Most nights there was because they had 13 seats in one of the rows and 12 of them were held by season ticket holders. Seat nine was never sold.

One night, I was about seven and at the Sabres game, soon to my surprise the seat to my right was filled by someone very familiar.

I believe he was injured or it was the first year that the Sabres had three goalies. He and his then-girlfriend, now wife were sitting in the stands. Let me tell you that the rumor that he talks a lot is actually complete fact. He talked through the whole game, we talked mostly about hockey, I think although I can’t really remember.

When I got home I proudly told my mother:

“I sat next to someone very important today at the game!”

She responded: “Really? Did you?”

In my funny little seven year old voice, I said “I sat next to “Maa-rten Bee-ron” and he thought I was adorable!”

It is one of my earliest hockey memories and has since always made me a Marty Biron fan.

Earliest Hockey Memories with NHL Shout

August 19, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

(Until recently, we haven’t been particularly aware of the Tampa Bay Lightning blogosophere [the Lightning-ogosphere? Bayogosophere? Lecavalierogosphere?], but it’s heartening to know that the team possesses plenty of great bloggers. One of those blogs is Lightning Shout, which sports a sweet logo and bitchin’ mission statement. Make sure to follow WB Philip’s work as the team starts to transition from “Saw” level horror show to respectability.)

My first hockey memory involves a game between the Boston Bruins (52-0) and the Detroit Red Wings (0-52) in the cold winter of 1970. This original six matchup was played in Detroit, Michigan at the Violet Street Hockey Arena. It featured a Bruins team that consisted of Phil Esposito, four Bobby Orr look-alikes, and an unmasked goalie, Gerry Cheevers. The Red Wings touted their daily lineup of the Howe’s: Mr. Hockey, Mark, Marty and an adopted son named Jim, my brother. All players were seen smiling constantly during the battle, despite their inability to skate in any direction but a straight line. The technology was way ahead of its time. The players wielded metal one-piece sticks and skated on a hybrid surface made of painted particleboard. The game was played without a referee or linesman in sight and at one point, was delayed due to the combatants losing the only puck available. (It had rolled all the way under the sofa) Both teams were very flat and had trouble hitting each other.

The Bruins led the whole way, riding centerman Phil Esposito’s 16 goals to a comfortable lead! The Howe’s led the team from Motown, with the family netting a total of 14 goals. It was late in the third period when the game was halted for a bathroom break. What happened when play resumed would haunt me for the rest of my life! At the drop of the puck, the Bruin goaltender, Gerry Cheevers, suffered what can only be termed, a catastrophic spot weld injury and tumbled slowly to the fake ice. The Philp house rules vehemently stated that, “Once a player comes loose from his metal post thing, he must be removed from play immediately and may not return or be replaced during that game…unless mom says so.”

Huh?

Those of you who are now part of the geriatric hockey set will recognize this scenario. Yes, the ice surface that comes in a box (assembly required)…Coleco tabletop hockey.

When you turned the rubber knob to strike the plastic, oversized puck (not the heavy one with the marble in it), you would here that unforgettable “TING” as the stick met the disk. All players had either sandy brown or jet-black colored hair and had that same psycho grin on their face. You know the look. It’s the one Matthew Barnaby used his entire career when he was agitating.

After Cheevers was yanked from the game, the Red Wings went on an offensive onslaught, scoring four goals in the last minute. The buzzer to end the game sounded in the familiar form that was my mom’s shriek, “Boys, put that god damned game away for a while!” It was over. Red Wings 18, Bruins 16.

December 24, 1970: A day that will live in infamy in the Philp household. I had shamed myself, the TTNHL (Tabletop National Hockey League), and most of all, the brotherhood of tabletop players…I had lost to my kid brother!!!!

As my brother paraded around the living room in his Heckle and Jeckle, footie pajamas (I hated those damn birds!) I found myself crying, but quietly happy for him. I had tasted victory so many times before that it had become a bland repast. Now I saw the hysterical glee on the face of my brother, whom I had destroyed 52 straight times before, and, for a brief moment, felt good.. I walked over to congratulate him on the victory and did what any good big brother would…I gave him a SUPER WEDGY!

Scotty Wazz of Face Off Hockey Show shares his Earliest Hockey Memories

August 13, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

Scotty probably doesn’t know this, but he’s actually one of the first “bloggers” I ever knew about. The reason’s simple: my first online writing “gig” (gig is in quotation marks because I didn’t get paid a dime) was for FantasyHockey.com as the LA Kings correspondent and Wazz was one of the most prominent contributors there. That “gig” sort of kind of pushed me to drop Earl Sleek an e-mail about Battle of California and the rest is (obscure) history.

Anyway, Wazz has been around for a LONG time, as his hockey-oriented Radio Show/Podcast recently celebrating its EIGHTH anniversary! (Whoa) Make sure to give Face Off Hockey Show a listen, as it’s absolutely one of the best hockey podcasts around. Also, make sure to follow Scotty’s blog as well. Thanks a bunch, Scotty. You’re welcome back any time.

Scotty Wazz in 1999

Living in Glen Burnie, Maryland for the first 21 years in my life was decent when it came to exposure to hockey. I was born in 1983, when the Baltimore Orioles were coming up on their third World Series trophy against the Phillies, the Baltimore Colts were about to move in the middle of the night to Indianapolis, and the Skipjacks had come back into the Baltimore Arena after the Clippers disbanded from the EHL. Down the road in the DC Metro area, the Redskins were king coming off their first Super Bowl win, the Capitals had a great young stable of talent, and had teams that could succeed, and the Bullets played basketball.

The Burnie was smack between NHL and AHL country with the Washington Capitals being to the South and Baltimore Skipjacks to the North. The Skipjacks were in a transition of their affiliation from the Pittsburgh Penguins primary affiliate to the Caps affiliate. I would learn later in my life that my grandmother was a Skipjacks season ticket holder when they first came into town in 1981 with the ACHL, then once they moved to the I-AHL and AHL. I didn’t know that at all was said and done and it makes me believe that’s partially the reason why my life went to hockey over everything else.

I did partake in the Orioles and Redskins early in my life because that’s how my household was, mostly because dad was favorable to those teams, even to this day. I was still young and trying to figure out the simple things…..like walking, talking, and not crapping myself. It should be known, I’ve conquered all those things. In any case, I actually stumbled on hockey by my lonesome. I was lucky enough to get TV privileges when I was four years old and was flipping through the channels to stumble on something on WDCA 20 when the Washington Capitals took on the New York Rangers from Madison Square Garden. I had recognized the sport because I remember having a wooden hockey stick with the Caps colors on it from my godfather. My godfather had played hockey within the area too, which is another reason why I was probably more favorable to hockey over other sports, it was instilled in my family and I had no bloody clue until after I took it up.

Having watched some of the game, I immediate went running to the mother asking her to get my stick down from the wall in my room and I started to emulate the stick handling on the ice and trying to imitate the TV as much as an impressionable youth can be. It went further when I figured, “Hey, I have something like that in my (Fisher Price) adjustable roller skates!!” To which, I also begged my mom for me to put those on and just go around the hallway skating and mimicking stick handling. The skates had bells on them when I rolled and soon I had to take them off or risk my mom and dad strangling me to death.

An action shot of Wazz (’94)

I started to catch the games in that 1987-88 season and got to know most of the players’ names and got into the stats of hockey like I already had done with other sports. All my friends were all about baseball and some football, but it seemed I was the only one really into hockey. While they knew all about Cal Ripken, Jr., John Riggins, and Art Monk– I knew them, plus Mike Ridley, Michal Pivonka, and Rod Langway. It kind of made me feel a bit unique by knowing about a sport no one else really did– kind of like I was in a secret group amongst my friends. I learned the game through the ’87-’88 season and began to follow the Caps and league in ’88-’89.

My dad saw this and did something for me that got me hooked into the whole game. My father worked for the Prince George’s County government at the time and worked near the Capital Centre in Landover. He knew some contacts there because he did a lot of work on the traffic signals and signs around the arena. He was able to get some tickets for a game on February 3rd, 1989. Before we go on, I’ll confess I didn’t know the date, I had to go to Mike Liut’s page on HockeyGoalies.org to find it out. I remember the score, the opposing team, but couldn’t remember the date.

Anyway– I believe this was my first live sporting event, as far as I remember. It was against the Hartford Whalers, which is pretty special knowing they don’t exist anymore. It was also player t-shirt giveaway day, which became a tradition for me going to those games because the shirts were like the Caps home jersey, down to the red shoulders. That year’s player was Bengt Gustafsson and while I knew the name, I didn’t think he’d become my favorite player of all-time when I entered the Cap Centre. We were at the end where the Caps defended twice, which gave me a nice downward view of the rink where the Caps were shooting at twice, we weren’t too high, but high enough to have a great view of it all.

The game was going on and it was an exciting game, but no scoring as of yet. My luck, I asked my dad to give me my t-shirt during the second period. Whilst I was struggling to get it over my head and other shirt, the crowd erupted and the siren was wailing like it did on TV. It turned out the t-shirt player of the day, Gustafsson, was the goal-scorer. It excited me because that was the first goal I saw live…..and turned out to be the only goal on the day. It made Gustafsson my favorite player since he scored the first goal and game winner in my first game.

Thanks to my dad’s contact, I was able to attend more games at the Cap Centre year after year. I have a ton of ticket stubs with all the cool designs over the years on them. It was something that me and my dad really got to bond with. It was about a 40 minute ride to and from the arena, which gave us time to share moments, talking about life and that stuff. While he and I played catch in the backyard all the time, I treasure the moments at the Cap Centre more and more.

Once I started playing hockey, he was really into it– buying a lot of Blackhawks gear, since our team was the Chesapeake Chiefs. My mom even got into it, though she thought it was too dangerous, but that’s mothers for you. She wouldn’t let me play football, but allowed me to play hockey. I think it worked out for the better. Both my folks supported my love of the game, regardless of the cost of it and looking back now, I’m indebted to them for actually allowing me to enjoy the game and grow with it because I enjoyed watching and then playing it.

A recent photo of Wazz with his family

Speaking of playing, it took a while for me to get the swing of things when I started at a young age, but I turned into a decent player, or at least I was told to keep my fragile ego in tact. I started playing rec hockey back in 1993 and was in the rec program until 1997, when I went onto the travel team in bantams. I was captain in my first and third year playing midget hockey for the Chiefs. I captained my high school team, Mount St. Joseph’s High School in Baltimore to it’s second JV High School title during my junior year, but thanks to a fateful knee injury while trying out in college– I’ve been reserved to playing beer league hockey….which isn’t a bad thing. It’s competitive to a point, but everyone is out there because they love playing it.

That exposure to the game on that February night allowed me to get hooked to the game, which has led me down a road to all aspects of the hockey world. From playing locally, to being a stick boy with the ill-fated ECHL’s Chesapeake Icebreakers and then going into the media aspect of the game, doing internet radio and blogging, with my peak being writing for FHM Online as a fantasy hockey guy. Now, I’m a U-List internet radio show host with a panache for randomness, crude humor, and ADHD. And I think that because I was able to flip on WDCA that fateful day, I’m the fanatic that I am today. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate on how you look at it and who you actually are. It is what it is.

And that’s what’s up.

Gray’s Earliest Hockey Memories

August 5, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

We’ve become buddies with quite a few San Jose Shark bloggers through Battle of California and CLS. Generally, they seem to be incredibly high quality people who deserve more post-season bliss than their seemingly great team has been able to produce.

Gray from Couch Tarts is one of our SJBFFs for sure (hell, she even concocted that adorable logo) and provided this week’s Earliest Hockey Memories entry. Make sure to follow the Couch Tarts and try not to make more than a couple obligatory Shark Week jokes. These nice people have suffered enough.

Like a lot of other American kids, I grew up living and breathing baseball. Sure, football existed too, but I didn’t care about that. It was all baseball. These were the days of the Bash Brothers in Oakland, and the ’89 world series. If you lived in the East Bay and didn’t love baseball, you were pretty damn weird.

And yet, somehow, hockey slowly started to trickle into my sub consciousness. I don’t remember how or why, maybe it was the Mighty Ducks movies, maybe it was watching Strange Brew too many times, who knows, but my friends and I suddenly developed a strong desire to play hockey. (ok, it was the Mighty Ducks movie) We went to a sporting goods store, got sticks, (the best bright plastic on wood that 15 dollars could buy), a bag of orange plastic pucks and set up a small soccer goal at the end of my friend’s drive way and started to play.

We didn’t really know how, but we knew hockey players hit each other, so the games usually revolved around how hard we could check the opposing player to the ground before stealing the puck and scoring a goal. Rules were generally ignored in favor of shin hitting mayhem, unless of course someone thought you scored a goal unfairly. Then a huge debate would be started, usually ending with someone shooting a puck at someone else, and generally in a very tender spot. (as a girl, I got the best part of this deal) After all, what was hockey about if it wasn’t about beating up the other side?

Later on, in middle school, they added street hockey into the PE curriculum. We’d play on the basketball courts, with only slightly more attention paid to rules and positions than to checking. Classes were co-ed, so we weren’t supposed to make contacts, but the boys always did. I’m sure some of it was an excuse to hit girls in the chest and feel their boobs. The Sharks had come to town by this point, but it was still rare to find someone openly discussing hockey in school. Fans existed, but I didn’t know many.

Once in high school I had little time for impromptu games on someone’s street, and I generally forgot about hockey. I didn’t get to my first NHL game until after college. Anyone who thinks a California kid can’t fall in love with hockey is dead wrong. It might take us a little longer to get there, but when we eventually get to a live game, we’ll be hooked. Even if it means making more Mighty Ducks movies.

Wazzupwitchu’s Laura shares her Earliest Hockey Memories

July 29, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

Because we’re on the verge of passing out, we’ll keep this brief: Laura is awesome. You can follow her work on Wazzupwitchu and she recently became a member of St. Louis Blues Gametime, the awesome and gigantic Blues blog for Sports Blog Nation. Congrats, Laura aka Hildy aka Hildymac, and thanks for your contributions!

Here goes… I was little, so there might be a few mistakes in there somewhere. But hey, who can remember back to when they were 8, huh?

Growing up in St. Louis, as anyone who is from there can tell you, there is one game in town: Cardinals baseball. Everyone eats, sleeps, and breathes it – the Post Dispatch would give a Cards/Cubs game bigger coverage than if the Mississippi flowed backwards again (look it up – swear it happened). The Cardinals and their ten World Series wins are the pride and joy of St. Louis sports, and while I will be a Cardinals fan until the day that I die, there’s another team in town who I love just as much – and I don’t care that they haven’t won the Cup.

When I was probably 8 or so, and how this started is iffy, I began watching Blues games on TV. KPLR showed (and did so with some until last season) the Blues home games, and I guess flipping around TV I landed on one. When I was that age, well… that was the beginning of the age of Hull. Luckily I started watching during the end of the Hull and Oates team-up, so I got to see that amazingness first hand. I was fortunate to begin my tenure as a bona fide fan of the Blues during the era with CuJo (new CuJo, not shell of his former self CuJo), Shannahan, Janney, Mrs. Janney, MacInnis, and Hull. My strongest two memories of being a little kid and loving hockey are playing floor hockey with the dog – he was probably not a willing participant – by taping a 12 inch and a 6 inch ruler together as a stick and using one of his tennis balls as a puck; and watching the 1993 series sweep of the Blackhawks in the 1st round of the playoffs. I still remember, as clear as day, the front page headline of the Post-Dispatch: “SWEEP” – complete with a picture of a crying (and probably screaming… damn PMS) Eddie Belfour. I actually think that I have a copy of that still somewhere, though I’m not sure where it is.

My grandmother of all people got me started collecting hockey cards, as well as a subscription to Beckett’s hockey price guide, which is a tradition I still continue with my monthly on-line subscription. This collecting of cards made me aware at a really young age of who the best players were, who the up and coming guys were, all their stats, and of course contributed to my unhealthy goaltender crush. I moved down to Georgia in 1993 which completely killed my hockey trading card addiction, as well as prohibited me from finding friends to whack street hockey balls against the side of the house. I only had my Super Nintendo, NHL ’94, a Blues sweatshirt, and some autographs from Hull, Shanny, and CuJo to get me through those dark, horrible, hockeyless days until 1999 when the Thrashers showed up and I got to watch their first game, a 4-1 loss to the Devils, in person. I adore the Thrashers (as much as they’ll let me) but because of where I’m from and the warmth that I associate with these early hockey memories of a childhood past, well, the Blues are my boys and are still my hometown team.

Fear the Fin’s Mr. Plank shares his Earliest Hockey Memories

July 22, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

We consider many of our favorite CLS contributors borderline friends, despite the fact that we might not be able to pick them out of a lineup. However, Mr. Plank is one of the rare souls who not only had the bad luck/opportunity to meet with us, but to see us absolutely sloshed. As part of his black mail campaign that began that night, we are required to direct you to Fear the Fin and to tell you that his little avatar thing is misleading. That handlebar mustache is merely meant to distract you from the fact that he’s devastatingly handsome.

Despite being way too much of a stud to blog like the rest of us, we’re glad he does. Fear to Fin is a great San Jose Sharks blog. Make sure to check it out. If you don’t, Plank will totally break your girlfriend’s heart just because he can. Seriously.

***

A fact that will come as a shock to some of you (sans the WBT crew that has graciously made the move with me), I wasn’t born a Sharks fan, nor was I even born in the Golden State. As is the standard with most Hollywood based storylines (you should see the clubs I frequent based off this FTF gig), it’s best to dig in where it all began.

I was born on October 25, 1987 in St. Paul Minnesota, a state that is commonly known as The Land of 10,000 Lakes; lakes that receive a heavy dose of wear and tear during the long winters, humbly offering a simple yet eloquent medium for exercise and sport.

St. Paul, Minnesota. We think.

What better way to take advantage of Mother Nature than hockey eh?

The love for hockey woven into the veins of Minnesota made it easy for anyone to enjoy. The high school state tournament was a frequent destination for my father (who was born in Wabasha, the town where Grumpy Old Men was based), and at the ripe age of three he found it in my best interest to drag me along. How right he was. Details don’t come easy at that age, but from what I can remember, the one thing that drew my attention was the culture of the sport. There’s something magical about being physically cold- it forces you to emit heat from your heart through a smile or a wave at random passerby (something that may be considered a law in Minnesota). Coupled with the elegant speed of the skaters, viciousness of a body check, and general pandemonium when a goal is scored? A fairly easy choice, as I’m sure you all can agree.

From them on I was hooked, and rightfully so. The next week I purchased my first pair of skates and headed out onto Lake of The Isles to practice with my dad. We skated for what seemed like sunup to sundown (in reality it was probably an hour or so, and I doubt I was able to skate all that much), and came home to a piping hot plate of chicken cacciatore and rhubarb pie. Ah, those were the days.

Yes, this was placed here to make you hungry because we’re cruel.

When the winter wasn’t in full force my dad and I would play in the basement. We weren’t strapped for money persay, but hockey was an expensive sport- I never got an opportunity to play it competitively. Regardless, in that basement it didn’t matter at all. I would strap a pillowcase on each of my legs (mimicking the future of goaltending equipment quite well I must add- those things made the five hole look like a pinhole), a baseball glove in my left hand, a stick signed by Neal Broten in my right, and a laundry basket set up behind me serving as the goal. My dad would tee up socks, bunched up in balls of three, and fire them at me while I did my best to shut the door on his Stanley Cup dreams.

At night he would tell me stories about the great Phil Housley, probably the greatest player to come from the great state of Minnesota (and one of the greatest American-born players of all time); tales of watching him at the high school hockey tournament looking like a man amongst boys, how he played in the All-Star game at the age of 18, how his swift skating and rocket from the point was the thing scouts salivated over.

My favorite team was obviously the Minnesota North Stars (a franchise that has a rather peculiar history with the Golden Seals and San Jose Sharks- funny how things work out sometimes). My favorite player was Neal Broten and Mike Modano, probably due to my dad’s influence. I vaguely remember the Stars magical run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in ’91, and was just beginning to immerse myself into the team when they packed up and left for Dallas.

It’s one thing I’ll never forgive, and frankly makes the Sharks rivalry with them all the more bitter for me. I sincerely hope they manage to worm their way into a playoff spot this season and finally get what they deserve.

Hell hath no fury like a six year old scorned.

After moving out to California, the groundwork for my impending fandom was set. My dad would take me to games on occasion, but unfortunately didn’t quite warm up to the team in the warm climate of California. To be fair though, Owen Nolan’s inclusion onto the Sharks roster got me lots of tickets at The Tank. I guess it’s not too hard to enjoy a player that has the ability to ignite a fanbase like number 11 would continue to do during his career in San Jose.

If I had to name the most visceral moment as a San Jose Shark fan it would be game three of the 06′ series with Edmonton- not due to it’s heroics, but because of how helpless it made me feel. The Sharks were about ten minutes away from taking a 3-0 strangehold on the series when Chris Pronger tied the game. Two overtimes later some hack puts it past Tosk and the Sharks melt down. I think Big Joe hit about two posts that game as well.

Not the most pleasant memory, but it’s the one that burns the brightest.

In summation, my hockey history has been one that has had a great beginning and looks to have an excellent future. Although the summer sun is soaking the skin of co-eds across California right now, the drab and dreary clutch of winter is where I feel at home.

Is it October yet?

Go Sharks.

Wrap Around Curl shares her Earliest Hockey Memories

July 15, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

By some fortuitous bit of dumb luck, we’ve managed to swindle some of our favorite hockey bloggers to write guest posts for CLS. Still, it never gets old when we get to bring in someone for the first time.

Such is the case with our prolific pal Wrap Around Curl. Her hilarious, occasionally “Man Candy”-oriented work would be impressive enough if you simply followed her self-titled blog. Yet WAC spreads her seeds of sass all over the blogosphere, most notably as a correspondent for CLS favorites Puck the Media and Pension Plan Puppets. WAC makes Lance Armstrong look like some random slacker from Austin, TX, doesn’t she?

Anyway, we’re glad to welcome WAC to the world of CLS guest posters. Make sure to follow her work.

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For me, well I’ve been going to hockey games since I was in utero. My mom went to Chiefs games all the time. Well, they were the Flyers then. And it was more of the Slapshot era of hockey, the rivalries brutal and fights broke out in the stands. The Flyers played in the Spokane Coliseum which was affectionately called the Boone Street Barn and the team often, The Boone Street Barn Burners. Cowbells were common cheering props.

But she went to hockey games all the time and still went when she was pregnant with me. And even after I was born she still took me. The season ticket holders she sat by had made me a baby blanket and other stuff. (I have the blanket somewhere in storage.) I didn’t get to go to too many Chiefs game when I was younger. But I do remember being about 7 and sitting front row and screaming and pounding on the glass. I loved it. I wanted to play hockey as a kiddo but my mom couldn’t afford it, and I got mad when I found out that they don’t let girls fight. I can’t even ice skate but I’d certainly allow a strapping young defenceman, say Luke Schenn, teach me how to skate.

I started going to more and more games in high school with a few friends. And when I was a freshmen in college I used my financial aid money for season tickets. And the last person I dated started going to hockey because I went all the time. We eventually split and I lost the season ticket seats in the breakup. Terrible, truly. He decided to take random chicks to hockey (one of them does crosswords during games) and I still went to games, proudly and on my own. I have my season ticket a few rows behind the visitors bench now. And I haven’t missed a Chiefs game in about three seasons (I left a wedding reception early once for a game, its ok the cake was already cut). I treasure my player magnet collection and hate Cheerstick and Buck Night so hard. I tolerate Chuck a Puck.

People seem to find my love and adoration of my junior hockey team amusing. Well, given my location that’s all I have for hockey. But really it’s the best. The young talent, it’s wonderful. And the Chiefs alumni list is pretty amazing (here’s the alumi list) These kids are amazing. They play hockey because they love it and not for the paycheck.

Last years team that ended up winning the Memorial Cup was astounding. Dustin Tokarski – I am convinced will be quite the goalie in the NHL, if only he would stop getting overlooked because he might be a tad short for a modern goalie. He’s 5’10 to 5’11 depending on which stats you are reading. Drayson Bowman is just waiting to rule the Carolina Hurricanes. Ondrej Roman is going to be a tremendous goal scorer if he can get out of the Czech Republic. I keep dreaming that former captain Chris Bruton (he errrr was the one who dropped the Memorial Cup…) will return to the Chiefs as a coach. But because of the void I live in, people loving other NHL teams doesn’t seem so strange. There are people here who love the Red Wings (Mike Babcock used to coach the Chiefs), the Wild, the Canucks. Even the Predators and Lightning. If I wear my Nordiques jersey to a game, people smile.

It’s the homegrown fanbase and traditions that make it. There’s the special way we celebrate goals. And the Teddy Bear Toss. My friends and I make shirts for players and they are so flattered. They are some really great kids. And I am happy to pay 13 bucks a game to see them play. It’s rough following junior hockey because well, they can get injured. Then there are those who age out or have to be traded because of the overager rule. I’ve cried many times over players moving on. But I come back every season, ready to embrace the new players and to buy new player buttons. This season I will go through the hard process of deciding on a new “hockey boyfriend” since Tokarski is done as a Chief, after setting many new records. I’ll treasure my Chiefs sweater the boys signed. My friends and I have rituals for games, reading the program in a specific order. After most games we go to the same places for food and often a Chief or two will be there with his family and we’ll send him a basket of deep fried Oreos. We have to take care of our boys.

I even made the long journey to Montreal to see who was going to draft Jared Cowen. Sitting there with the Leafs crew, I sobbed my eyes out when the Senators picked him. Everyone was nice and comforted me and told me it was going to be ok, even though I have to hate him now. I’m happy he is going to an organization that will love him but I wanted him in the blue and white. I hope that Jared will have another season or two with the Chiefs before leaving me for Ottawa. Am I a member of the Leafer Nation? Of course. But my truest team is the Chiefs.

Meet the Artist

July 14, 2009

Starting tomorrow, CLS will begin a series that features the earliest/fondest/original hockey memories from some of our favorite hockey bloggers. Expect these great stories each Wednesday, ideally through the regular season.

Like we did with Earl Sleek for our Hockey Orphan feature, we decided to ask one of our favorite hockey artists to create the logo. We’ve had Gray and the Couch Tarts gang contribute quite a few posts already, but if you aren’t familiar make sure to check out their great San Jose Sharks blog.

Gray’s artwork caught our eyes from the beginning, but particularly during the playoffs.

After seeing great logos for each playoff series we must admit that we became smitten. We’re not art majors by any stretch, but we smile every time we see these adorable, expressive pieces of art.

Make sure to check out Gray’s Web site, where you can place custom orders or purchase one of her striking pieces.

Seriously, this is some great stuff.

We cannot thank Gray, the Couch Tarts and our contributors enough. Thanks everyone!

Coming Wednesday: The great Wrap Around Curl shares her memories.