Saturday, December 13, 2003

Hockey is the Sport of Kings

I feel blessed to live in a city with two hockey teams: the NHL Columbus Bluejackets and the UHL Columbus Stars.
I've been to one Jackets game this season, and really should go to more...
But, what I really wanna talk about is minor league hockey. REAL hockey. The Columbus Stars probably earn minimum wage. They don't have their own ice rink...they play at the State Fairgrounds. They're not even affiliated with an NHL team at present, which limits the players' prospects of eventually making it to the NHL.
The NHL, particularly in Columbus, has become very Disneyfied. People bring families and behave all genteel. That ain't fucking hockey. Hockey is getting drunk and getting up on the glass and heckling motherfuckers. At the Stars games...I get to do that.
There are supposed to be assigned seats at Stars games. That rule just doesn't really apply, though. We pay for cheap seats and find seats on the glass. First off, the little ledge is a great beer holder. Second, the glass is where the action is at. Right in front of you, some guy is getting his head smeared across the boards. That's hockey. Third, proximity provides better opportunities to heckle.
Other fans react very positively to our rude, drunken behavior. We're funny. We affect the game. We actually should have gotten an assist last night. We rattled the Missouri River Otters' goalie so damn much, he bobbled the puck into his own goal with nary another player in sight (fucking putz...hope he enjoys unemployment...hehehe). Of course...we also adopted a heckle from a group of little girls last night, so we're not the only ones in on the act. We've been invited to sit with/have a beer with other fans. The mascots seem to love us. But, being that they're girls and we're young, dynamic and handsome hockey fans...well, do the math. Chicks dig hockey fans almost as much as they dig hockey players.
I love going to Stars games. I've become an addict. Every single game I go to, I lose my damn voice. My hands are sore from beating on the glass. I even own a Columbus Stars jersey now. Yup...I emptied my pockets and got me a gorgeous blue away jersey yesterday along with enough beer to drown an elephant.
Minor league hockey is fast and action packed. The game tends to be rougher because there's more on the time. Players get knocked around, shoved into the glass, checked, punched and generally beat up. It's hockey the way the NHL used to be. It's real hockey. People should be filling the stands.
The problem one's going to the Stars games. We have an NHL franchise in town and demand isn't particularly high for a second team. That, and people are always biased against minor league sports. Funny, I love minor league baseball as much or more than the major leagues. Could be because we have a minor league franchise in town, but I've been to a couple other clubs and like the intimacy of a minor league game. Hell, if the Columbus Clippers didn't have Drew Henson, I wouldn't even heckle at Clippers games. Hockey is just the best damn sport there is. And minor league hockey is so damn affordable, I just don't see why people aren't flocking to it.
Support your local hockey team, folks. Go to a few games. Make noise. Buy a hat or jersey. You might like it.
You might become an addict like me.

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