As many people do this time of year, I’ve decided to compile a list of things I am grateful for this year (2009.) Obviously, I am thankful for my health, family, friends, blah, blah, etc. but this is a list that is specifically about hockey. So here we go...
10. Hockey – the sport. Oh lord, how I love this game. I’ve always appreciated hockey as a sport, but it wasn’t until @ 11 years ago that I fell completely head over heels in love with it. Now there are still intricacies about it that confuse me, but I would watch a game featuring any team, at any level, any time. It’s a sport that is a combination of skill, luck, strength, talent, randomness, violence, and fun – I mean, how can you beat that?
9. No drama on the Sharks. In the past year some NHL teams have had their share of off-ice drama. Whether it’s pictures of players drinking/smoking at college parties or rumours of players sleeping with other players’ wives, I’m thankful that the Sharks have not been involved (or at least have kept it in house where it should be.) When I first heard that we were getting Heatley, I was nervous because of the potential drama. I’ve studied quite a bit about group dynamics and I know it only takes one person to disrupt a well-working team. But alas, my concerns were unrealized as Heatley not only appears to be a team-player, but he’s also scoring goals!
8. Drew, Randy, Jamie & Dan. Since falling in love with hockey, I have lived in 4 different hockey markets (DC –Caps, Miami – Panthers, Delaware – Philly & SF – Sharks), so I feel that I can honestly say that we have some of the best hockey commentators. The witty repartee of Randy & Drew on the television and the history and hockey insights given to us by Jamie & Dan, always leave me feeling like I’m not only learning about the sport, but I'm also sitting with friends watching the game.
7. Hockey players are actually nice guys. I have come in contact with a couple of Sharks players since becoming a fan a few years ago and they always seem like nice, normal guys. This year, I’ve met them at player signings at the Sharks store (Hi JoePa!), at the Teal & White games or in the parking lot after the games. Even just reading their blogs or twitter feeds makes me think that although they make a gazillion dollars playing the awesomest game ever, they are just like you and me.
6. Sharks fans. Finding cool people to go to hockey games with is sometimes difficult, so I often go to games by myself. Every single game, I meet awesome Sharks fans who are more than happy to talk Sharks hockey with me. Whether it’s discussing who’s injured, what we think of the coach or what the play-offs will be like, I have always received nothing but kindness from my fellow fans. This season I’ve even been offered shots of alcohol from their secret stash they smuggled in (this has occurred on 2 separate occasions.)
5. Hockey players of color. This year has been a good year for my fellow brown peeps. Jarome Iginla has found his game, Mike Grier has found some happiness in Buffalo, there’s talk of Dustin Byfuglien making the US hockey Olympic team, and Evander Kane is making his mark in Atlanta.
4. Hockey Blogs. My favourites being Puckdaddy, Working the Corners, & Justin Bourne’s blog, but there are thousands for you to choose from. Whether you want to focus on the gossip, the stats, or the fights there’s a hockey blog for you. I tend to visit them at least once a day and sometimes more depending on what’s going on in the hockey world.
3. Doug Wilson. Not only is this man super tan, but he’s super smart too. Even though we all like to pretend we could be a GM and rosterbate quite often (sounds dirty, but it’s not – I swear), I for one know that Doug Wilson would out-GM me any day of the week. In the past he’s worked some voodoo magic (Hi Joe Thornton!), but this year he’s again worked his mojo. It was the big moves (welcome to SJ Mr. Heatley) and the smaller moves (Malhotra & Nichol) that has this team playing a more complete game than in years past. And yes, as always the proof will be in the pudding this spring, but I can’t imagine what else Wilson could be doing to help the Sharks to their ultimate goal. He’s given them the pieces, now it’s up the team.
2. FTF. This past year I discovered Fearthefin.com and it is now one of my favourite places to go for Sharks info. Plank, TCY and Mr. K keep us fans very informed about all aspects of the game from the players, to the opponents, to the up and coming players in Worcester and much, much more. And although the stats get a bit much for me, their brand of humour always has me smiling. Plus, they’re actually cool guys in person! They make everyone feel comfortable there and although there’s always a douche, it’s not as bad as other NHL websites/forums/blogs I’ve visited. Even though I live in Canada now, I thoroughly enjoy watching the Sharks games online and engaging on the FTF gameday threads with my fellow fans who I now consider friends.
1. My fellow CouchTarts. What can I say about Mina and Gray? They are two amazing chicks. I still remember the moment I met Mina while we were both playing on the same team in a recreational womens ice hockey league. We were in the dressing room (no it’s not that kind of story perverts) and she & I were talking and I thought to myself “maybe she’ll be my frend and go to a hockey game with me...” Soon after that, she introduced me to her friend Gray and then a few years later (and many Sharks games later) I now consider them both my close friends. It has been a dream come true for me to finally have girlfriends who I can talk about hockey with and also discuss non-hockey stuff with. And now with the couchtarts blog, I feel like we’ll be connected for quite a while...
Happy Holidays from AfroPuff!