Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Favorite Sports - HOCKEY (Part 1)

I love to watch sports. I enjoy the competitive nature of sports and the thrill of winning, being recognized as being the best and the stories behind the athletes. Over the next few posts I will rank my favorite sports and give a little background about myself.


  As a boy growing up in Canada hockey is an integral part of the culture. Being born in the city where the best hockey player ever played I was automatically a default Oilers fan. As a 9 year old, I remember crying when I heard the news that Gretzky had been traded... to an AMERICAN team nonetheless! I recall losing interest in the sport that had broken my heart. But that wound was soon mended when I was able to watch a live hockey game at the Pacific Coliseum; Vancouver Canucks vs. CSKA Moscow. This team had three of the best Russian players to ever play the sport: Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Mogilny and the electrifying Pavel Bure all on one line! I don't remember the final score but I definitely recall the speed, skill and flair of which I was to be witness to starting with Bure winning the Calder Trophy for the 91-92 season.

  As a teenager I was caught up in the Canucks incredible run to game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. I didn't partake in the aftermath in downtown Vancouver but the images on TV are forever burnt into my mind's eye. The passion that engulfed the city was instilled in me and an integral part of why its my first sports love. Once again this love was challenged during the lockout shortened season and I lost faith in the business of the sport.

  Enrolling at Concordia University, in the historic city where hockey was born and the National Hockey League created, my fate was sealed. I fell in love with the city, culture, lifestyle, joie de vivre and above all the pervasive religion: the Montreal Canadiens, Les Habitants, Les Boys, The Habs, etc. The most winningest franchise in professional sports (at the time) were experiencing some of the most challenging years in recent history. The city of Montreal was dealing with the fallout of the referendum and times were bleak. Yet the fanbase never faltered, the love never died, and plans of a parade down St. Catherines renewed every October. As a struggling student I was only able to attend one live Canadiens game but what an event and experience it was. Sitting in a luxury box at the Bell Centre with a fully stocked bar and bartender provided, game programs and hot food served to order, the actual game seemed secondary maybe because we lost to the Sabres.

  The lore and history of the Habs is overwhelming and chronicled in many books, magazines, websites, etc. The purpose and subject of this blog is to address my love of ALL sports but it is important to point out the place that the Canadiens have had in my past, do have in my present, and will have in my future. I continue to meet Habs fans everywhere I go and the mutual love and respect is a basis for lasting friendships.

  I am a first and foremost a fan of hockey, of the fights, the goals, the players, the stories, the battles, the hits, the assists, the highlights, the draft and even the pools. I've made it through two lockouts and realize that each season, game and period of hockey should be appreciated and cherished. Now lets drop the puck and watch some hockey!

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