Hockey Randomness

I can’t call myself a hockey fan.  Back in the day (the “day” being the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s) I was definitely a fan.  I attended a few games a year, I followed the team even if I didn’t watch every game and I could list all the players on the team.  Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are staying up late with my dad watching the Bruins on the tiny black and white television he kept in my parents’ bedroom. He had an earpiece connected to the tv so it wouldn’t wake up my mother and I’d sit up near his shoulder with my ear pressed to his listening to Fred Cusick calling the games (I still hear him yelling “SCORE” when I watch the Bruins now).

I never gave it much thought, but my falling out with the Bruins came around the same time Fred Cusick retired from calling the games.

So I try not to comment too much on hockey nowadays because I don’t follow it all that closely and many hockey fans tend to get cranky if you dare say anything without having opened a vein and pledged your allegiance to your team.  Still, I check the morning scores to see if the Bruins have won (and follow one or two hockey reporters or fans on Twitter to get information) but I don’t live and die by their winning or losing.  I want them to win but, honestly, if they don’t there are still a few other teams I get my sports fan fix from, so my day isn’t ruined.  After all, I’m a New England sports fan.

Having written all of that, I’ve watched at least a period or two of every game during this playoffs.  While I still find the fans of the game too blood-thirsty for my liking (and I know that’s encouraged by the NHL), I’m finding myself quite fond of this team and hoping for their success.  Watching 19 year-old Tyler Seguin score six points in the first two playoff games of his career (while also making me feel a little old) made me remember why I enjoy watching sports, in general, so much.

It’s a great story.  Tampa Bay fans can complain about the publicity he’s getting and Bruins fans can debate how much he does or doesn’t deserve to be in there and whether or not Claude Julien should have had him playing before this series but I prefer to just enjoy the high points of this playoff series while they’re happening.  What’s so wrong with that?

Besides, he really is a great story.  As Kathryn Tappen over at wrote:

… the four points Seguin tallied in the second period made him the first teenager ever to notch that many points in one period of a playoff game and only the second rookie to do so…

So this isn’t just some homerism…the kid did something pretty freaking impressive and he’s one of the reasons I’m genuinely enjoying these hockey playoffs.

Of course, if the Bruins lose this series I’ll not be watching any more hockey for the season.  I’m fickle, I know.

Photo lifted from Stanley Cup of Chowder and used without permission

One of the other things I’m discovering is that, in spite of how aggressive most of them seem to be, is how thin-skinned some NHL fans can be.  The above is one of a handful of signs the Bruins marketing department came up with to taunt the opposing team.  Now, I’m not sure how I feel about the team itself going after the fans but, in all honesty, this ad seems pretty low-key compared to others (most notably the “Never, Ever Date a Flyers Fan. Even If She Shaves Her Moustache.” campaign when the Bruins were playing Philadelphia).  Lightning Fans, apparently not as easy-going as some Flyers fans, mounted their own campaign against the Bruins and the “offending” billboard is now gone.  Stanley Cup of Chowder puts it best:

Why back down to a talentless clown like Cowhead, who needs to resort to repeated homophobic slurs to appeal to his listeners? In his plea to Tampa Bay Lightning fans, the classy Cowhead used several slurs for homosexuals, calling Bruins fans “fags” and referring to Bruins employees as “faggy”, “faggotty”, “gay”, and “bitches”.

Lightning fans support this guy and by giving in, the Bruins are giving him credibility. Interesting that joking about the size of a fan base is considered more offensive than dropping homophobic slurs to make your case.

Also amusing, the city of Tampa Bay’s continued inferiority complex toward Boston, as witness by this:

Want to swap your Boston sports gear for merchandise featuring Tampa Bay area teams?

Bring your Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins or Celtics hats, shirts, jackets, jerseys, etc., to Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza (1912 W. Brandon Blvd.) Friday between 9 a.m. and noon, when WDAE 620-AM’s Ron and Ian will be broadcasting live, and receive Tampa Bay gear in return, while supplies last.

Each person that donates will be entered for a chance to win a brand new 2011-12 Lightning home jersey, courtesy of the Lightning. The winner will be contacted at a later date, when the jersey is available.

I was not aware that there were hoards of Tampa Bay fans hiding behind their Boston fandoms just waiting for someone to give them free gear. Learn something new every day.

8 o’clock tonight on Versus (or The Sports Hub if you’re in Boston and prefer the radio) is Game 3 in Tampa Bay. Could be an interesting night.  I’m a big believer in karma.  Here’s hoping it hits the Lightning in the face thanks to Mr. Cowhead.

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