December 6, 2007

What's My (Hockey) Story?

I'm a huge Washington Capitals fan. But, it hasn't always been that way. As a matter of fact,.....well.....Hold on to your knickers Caps fans...But, less than 8 years ago I don't think I even knew DC had an NHL team! Wait a minute. Don't get too outraged. For a start, Hockey just isn't big here in Harford County, MD. Sure we have an ice rink in Abingdon(Ice World). But that's the only one I can think of off the top of my head. If I were to mention hockey to most from these parts, they'd likely ask...."So, your daughter plays Field Hockey for her school?" Yeah, I know it's hard to imagine, being this close to DC, Philly & New Jersey. Hockey just isn't advertised on any of the local TV channels other than Comcast SportsNet. Actually, all the MD & PA college hockey teams both Men's & Women's aren't advertised at all. The Baltimore Ravens & NASCAR are the only things drawing interest in this region.
I vaguely remember seeing hockey on TV when I was a young lad. Probably the Flyers or the Penguins on WGAL TV. Maybe the Baltimore Clippers. Just can't remember for sure. This may come as a great shock to you young'ns. There was no cable television in those ancient times. Yep! No ESPN. I repeat ....No ESPN. Our TV signals came into our homes via scrap metal looking contraptions referred to as antennas or aerials. It's true. I s#*t you not. I do remember playing hockey a couple times during visits to my cousins' house in Bel Air. On the Ice no less. I actually fell through the ice a couple times! Okay, so it was on a stream in their back yard. But, it still counts.
Later on, my sisters & I did play some Floor Hockey with disabled & special needs children at a rec centre in Bel Air through our church youth group. Floor Hockey was also played during Gym class at High School - At least, on rainy days. I do remember enjoying it. However, I was too busy with baseball, football & basketball in those days. We heard so little of hockey, we didn't think of it as real. just didn't take it seriously. When I think now of how we were so naive & deprived...Oh my God! All our sports attention was on the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Colts & Baltimore Bullets because they were winners. Those three teams were all champions. At least once, I believe at the same time. We had enough teams to keep track of.
Eventually, after the Colts & the Bullets were taken from us & the Orioles had gone from a stretch of several years as the best team in baseball to many years as the worst, I had almost given up on pro sports altogether. Then one night during the NHL's 2000-2001 season while surfing through channels, this old git finally came upon ESPN and NHL Hockey. After watching a couple games I was hooked. However, I still hadn't watched Comcast SportsNet or whatever it was called then. So, I became a fan of teams other than the Capitals. My favorite was the Colorado Avalanche.
By the 2002-2003 season I had caught up with the Caps & grew very fond of them & their announcers. After really getting to know this team through watching games & listening to the Caps internet podcasts I was converted. As I suffered along with other Caps fans through losing some players that were fan favorites & of course the dreaded Lockout season, the Washington Capitals became my absolute favorite team. Even though the Caps had 2 pretty dismal seasons after the Lockout, I've come to love them even more. They've been such an exciting team to watch even through the hard times. But, I truly believe those hard times are about to end. With the players that are still here, together with the newcomers, I'm certain of it.
Go! Freak'n Go Caps!

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