Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The New Season

As one sport comes to an end (baseball) another begins (hockey). As much as I dislike winter, with the cold, snow, shorter days and lack of sunlight, the winter months go by much quicker with the sport of hockey.

Now I grew up playing basketball, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the coolest game on ice. Mind you, I couldn't skate a lick, but I was mesmerized when my sainted father took me to my first hockey game at the old Cleveland Arena. I remember it well, snow was falling, and the Cleveland Barons were playing the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. The Barons were a farm team of the Canadians and were owned by Al Suphin. The NHL had six teams then but the Barons were considered the best 7th team in the NHL, that is to say, they were so good they could have played in the NHL but were an AHL team.

I remember the game being lightening fast, graceful, and physical. In those days chicken wire surrounded the rink (now there is Plexiglas) and fights on the ice were plentiful. If the players got too close to the chicken wire, you could see fans trying to intervene by grabbing an opponent by the hair so that the home town hero would win the battle. Cleveland didn't have an NBA team then, so hockey was the sport of passion and preference in the early 1960's.

As I grew up, I followed the Barons, then the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA, and then the NHL Cleveland Barons in the 1970's. Cleveland was a great hockey town, but the NHL placed a crummy team in Cleveland in the NHL Barons (imagine this year's Washington Nationals in baseball) and the team was never marketed properly. Hockey died in Cleveland but my love for the sport remained.

When I went to Seminary I attended a few Fort Wayne Komet games, and on vicarage I was able to follow the St. Louis Blues. To see the Blues play in the Old Checkerdome is a memory I will cherish, as the Checkerdome was an old hockey "barn" in the truest sense.

I was thrilled when the BlueJackets were born in Columbus, and to see the team birthed and then transformed into a playoff contender is satisfying. My daughter Emily has begun to share my joy in hockey, and for her birthday the entire family is going to the opener against Minnesota. Saturday will bring back memories, of a dad who loved to take his son to a hockey game in Cleveland, and will hopefully begin new memories for my Emily and the rest of the family. Some families enjoy going to movies. Others like going to the play. We go to ball games, or hockey games, and I for one am looking forward to Saturday night.

No comments:

Post a Comment