I used to be one of the biggest hockey fans on the face of the planet. I had catalogs of hockey cards, ranging from the really cool ones like Steve Yzerman to the dumpy ones like Claude Lemieux. Hell, I even had the rookie edition where Topps spelled Dominik Hasek’s name wrong. I watched every Red Wings game, rooting for Darren McCarty as he got into his fifth fight of the game, or watching in awe as Brendan Shanahan ripped a wicked wrister past poor Ed Belfour. I was into it.
Then I stopped playing hockey to focus on the sport designed for short, vertically challenged people: basketball.
For years, I couldn’t have cared less about the NHL. I was wrapped up in college basketball, the dwindling Detroit Pistons’ dynasty of the early/mid 2000s, and working on my world-famous jump shot. I didn’t know who the best team in the league was or who led the league in goals. Hell, I was mindblown when the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated up to Winnipeg to revive the Jets franchise.
That all started changing this year.
I finally was beyond fed up with the media machine that is the NBA. I didn’t care about what new jersey the Brooklyn Nets were wearing or if LeBron James was going to win another MVP award. Honestly, who cares? Living with four roommates who all eat, sleep, and breathe hockey helped me start getting back into the game. Watching the Red Wings consistently lose in overtime was a bit disheartening, but once the Olympics rolled around, it was go time.
It was time to wake up at 7 a.m. (with a little bit of a hangover) and watch the USA go to work. Watching the likes of Patrick Kane and Johnny Quick was awesome. Watching TJ Oshie make Russia his lapdog in the shootout was the most exhilarating hungover experience of my life. I was hooked.
The hockey resurgence in my life was capped off recently by attending the jersey retirement ceremony for Wings’ great Nick Lidstrom.
This brought me back. Back to the days when I watched “Stevie Y” dangle Rob Blake and the Avalanche. Back to the days of watching Dominik Hasek send Marian Gaborik front-flipping through the air on a breakaway. It was the same game, just with new faces. New faces that I’m quickly learning. The likes of Wings’ stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still there, but the new guys like Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan (AKA the drunk Telletubby) are making their statement.
I’ve quickly learned, they’re fun to watch, as is hockey again. So do yourself a favor; turn off the damn Miami Heat/Milwaukee Bucks game (spoiler alert, the Bucks lose) and turn on an NHL game.