1. My dad – so many people have listed the reason the reason they got into hockey is their dad’s love of the game, and while that might be true for me regarding baseball and football, but when it comes hockey, I've always loved it because it’s “my game”. My dad, who actually grew up in a hockey hot zone on the great lakes never really got into the sport…so for me it’s “my thing”.
2. It’s a “niche sport”…at least in the US – being a hockey fan in a place like a Baltimore suburb is rare thing…most of my friends don’t even “get it”…and that’s what makes it cool. Everyone loves talking football and baseball…and basketball, but few around here can really talk hockey. When you meet someone who follows the NHL and lives and dies hockey like I do, it’s like presenting a secret handshake--it’s easy to make an instant friend…even if they root for the for an enemy team, like the Pens.
3. It’s non-stop. If there’s one reason I really like watching international soccer games, it’s that it just keeps on going, like the energizer bunny. No commercials, no stoppage in play, just a constant 45 of play per half….but then of course, it’s soccer. Hockey isn’t quite as “non-stop”, but the action is constant. I remember last year a certain date when my favorite hockey team and my favorite (American) football team were playing at the same time—I had both games on using 2 TVs, but I found myself constantly watching the hockey TV because frankly, when you have the two stacked up against each other, hockey is just harder to pull away from because football has about 10 seconds of play followed by minutes of downtime, whereas hockey just keeps on going….
4. The new kid. When I was in second grade, a new kid came to our school, and this wasn’t exactly a normal thing in the small suburban town from which I was from; and this kid also happened to be Canadian, which could have made him really different and awkward; but fortunately for him, he was a really “cool kid”. A cool kid who couldn’t stop talking about how awesome the Edmonton Oilers were and how awesome one Wayne Gretzky was. Of course, I wanted to be cool too, and so I decided that I also thought that the Edmonton Oilers were cool…and they just happened to win the Stanley Cup that year. This was my introduction to NHL hockey, and I still own a classic, Gretzky-era Oilers jersey to this day. This year was 1985.
5. The International game – I was only 3 when the “Miracle on Ice” occurred, but for some reason I remember it happening. Not so much that I remember watching the games, but I have a memory of my parents and their friends talking about it. I also remember rooting for US hockey in the Olympics even before I really got into watching NHL hockey…in 84, 88, 92, etc… Frankly, I think the Olympics were better when play was restricted to amateur players, but I also know that the NHL can’t stop NHL players from participating from Sochi in 2014 if they don’t want total chaos in their hands.
6. Alex Ovechkin.
As a Caps fan, do I even need to elaborate?