I loved hockey, when I was a kid there was rarely a day that went by that I wasn’t out playing a game or shooting the puck at the garage door. Hell, I even started my own League. I organized six Teams from my neighborhood and had a regular season and a playoffs. And I was good, at the risk of bragging, I was very good. Everyone wanted me on their team, before, during, and after, the League I created. I discovered that I was good at hockey in school at a very early age when I scored goals even from my defensive position.
Occasionally we would even all put in on getting ice time at the local arena, which back in the early 70’s was about $30 an hour, but split 20 ways it wasn’t a lot to put in. Normally I played defense, but scoring defense. I was a two way threat, I could stop most attempts at scoring and at the same time, like Al MacInnis, could rack up goals. However, my one downfall was skating. I never quite mastered the art. So every time we played on the ice my position changed to goalie. I was a good goalie, not outstanding, but good enough that I didn’t embarrass myself.
The reason I bring this up is because, as much as I love hockey, I realized the other day that I don’t know any of the current players in the NHL. Granted it’s not the first time this has happened. Shortly after the second expansion ( in 1970 when the NHL expanded to 14 teams ) I had given up on ‘ watching ‘ hockey for many years. In fact it wasn’t until 10 years later when Calgary acquired the Flames from Atlanta ( I was living in Calgary at the time ) that it renewed my interest. And who wasn’t excited to finally see Lanny McDonald finally get a ring in 1989 and his 500th career goal at the same time.
Then, Calgary started depleting the team by getting rid of virtually all the players that made the team great. The only reason why Calgary at the time didn’t win more Stanley Cups was the bad fortune of having to compete with another great team in the same division, at the same time, that included Wayne Gretzky. If it wasn’t for that, if the Flames had competed in any other division, or at another time, with the team they had, they would have easily won consecutive Stanley Cups and would have gone down into history as a great franchise. This butchering of the team again made me lose interest for the second time.
And, with the exception of the odd game, I haven’t been back since. I still love hockey, but there’s a huge difference between playing hockey and watching other people play it. Watching other people play sports has never been anywhere near as exciting to me as playing sports myself. But it is odd, even to me, that I am so disenfranchised that I couldn’t even list off 10 players in the NHL today.