Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Selling My Hockey Soul

About a year ago, (actually a bit less, essentially it was a Shark year ago) I wrote this.  For those of you who don't feel the need to actually read the column (you should, though, it isn't bad), it essentially says that while most people can adopt another team once theirs is eliminated, I can't bring myself to do it.  With Obama in the White House, we are all about change in America, and it is time for OV Sports to join that trend.  

This season, I am going to put my pride as a Sharks fan aside and try to adopt another team for the remainder of the playoffs.  There are actually a lot of reasons why I am going to do this, but here are some of the main ones:

1. I'm just not ready to stop caring about the NHL for the year.  Maybe the fact that there are still 8 teams alive is to blame, maybe it is because I have been watching hockey more this year, but whatever the reason, I don't want to give up my rooting interest quite yet.  

One of the things that I feel like I didn't articulate in last year’s column was that when I say I can't care about the NHL playoffs sans the Sharks, that is hardly to say that I don’t watch the games anymore.  Even with the Sharks out, I still watch hockey almost every night, and follow the playoffs closely.  I mention this for two reasons, first of all because I love hockey more than almost anything and didn't want to give the impression that I was abandoning the sport when it is in need of viewers, and secondly, to say that just following the playoffs objectively won't do this year.  

2. My first instinct was to throw myself behind team USA in the IIHF World Championships. This would have been the obvious answer, the only problem is that the games aren't on TV, and the webcast schedule is sporadic (not to mention frequently starting at 8 a.m. PDT, no thanks), so that is pretty much out of the question.

3. After I wrote that column, I started thinking about the concept of adopting a team.  Basically, I am curious to find out what it's like, and if I can even do it.  There is only one way to find out.

4. Not for nothing, I have been a Sharks fan pretty much as long as I have cared about hockey.  Sure, I rooted for the Stars and liked the game when I lived in Dallas, but a) that was almost 13 years ago, and I barely remember it, and b) I started playing hockey the same year I moved to THE BAY (copy write 1994 Mac Dre Ltd.), and I didn't really throw myself into the NHL until that same year.  I am kind of like a husband stuck in the same marriage for 30 years, and is wondering what it would like to be with someone else, except if the husband stayed 26 years old throughout the marriage.  Besides, I won't be cheating on the Sharks.  Each season is really a lifetime so, as I said last year, I am a widower.  I am simply looking for a partner to ride out the remainder now that the Sharks have passed on to the giant regular season in the sky.

5. Who am I kidding, sure, I can watch hockey objectively when the Sharks are out of it, but it is much more fun when you have a (somewhat) vested interest.


Before I get to the good stuff (picking a horse in this race), I feel the need to set some terms for this allegiance.  First of all, by no means will this team replace the Sharks.  This is a fling, not a relationship, and once the season ends, I plan on completely washing my hands of them.  I may or may not develop an appreciation for the team that carries on, but they will not be any sort of "second favorite."  My favorite team will remain the Sharks and that is that.  Also, I won't be talking any trash, or even really bringing any sort of outward emotion to the run.  My right to talk trash died with the Sharks, and it would feel hypocritical to continue to act as if my team was in.  I have a few things with other NHL logos on them, and I may or may not rock them while the team is playing, but I doubt I will purchase anything (although you should feel free to bribe me into rooting for your team by sending me stuff).

Those are the things that I won't do, as far as what I am going to do, this is basically going to consist of learning a little bit more about the team, making a point of watching the games, possibly writing about them if I feel compelled by anything to do so, and essentially just hoping that they win.  


I am going to open this one up to you guys, and elicit your help in choosing a team.  First of all, I am going to present the case for each team (why I should root for them).  These are my thoughts on the situation, but I want yours as well.  In order to do that, I will put a poll up on the side of the page, where people can vote for the team that they want me to adopt, and although it isn't exactly a democracy, and I will make the final decision, the poll will be a large part of it.  Also, I want to encourage people to e-mail me, send me a message, or comment on this post, making their case for a team.  If I receive anything strong (or funny) enough to be posted, I will throw it up here, and possibly respond, mail bag style (if I get enough of a response).  Hopefully, within the first couple of days of the second round, I will take everything I hear into account, combine that with my own opinions and make a decision as to who I am rooting for.

At any rate, here are the candidates, in reverse power ranking order (#8 being team I am least likely to go with, #1 being the leader in the clubhouse).


Off Limits

8. The Anaheim Ducks

Be real, I would rather asphyxiate myself with my Marleau jersey than root for those (censored).

(besides, I don't think that they are going to get past Detroit unless Hiller's deal with Satan covers around 2, and it isn't listed on the Ducks' cap figure)


7. The Detroit Red Wings 

Again, not a real good chance that I could go with the Wings, even if they were the overwhelming favorite from readers.  For one thing, they have to be the favorite to win the cup with the Sharks out, so it would feel a bit too front-runnerey.  Also, the Wings are basically the Yankees of hockey (every bandwagon jumping kid in America ends up a fan), and I don't want to sink to that.  The only appeal is that Hossa was one of my favorite players in Ottawa, Atlanta and the 'Burgh.  Basically, I think I'll pass on the grounds that I want to throw up every time I meet a Wings fan who isn't from Michigan.  

Obvious Choices, Perhaps too Easy

6. The Chicago Blackhawks

Every one wants to jump on the Hawks bandwagon.  In fact that is what I got from both of my friends when I mentioned that it may be time to pick up another team.  I don't think I can do it, though.  First of all, as the sub-head suggests, it would be a bit too easy.  I'm not really worried about being too contrarian, but I don't want to jump on the same wagon as everyone else.  Second of all, even though I like Teows, I can never help rooting for Americans (such as Kane), and Brian Campbell is awesome (provided he has the puck), I have always maintained, and still probably would, that this team is a bit overrated.  Rooting for them would be like rooting to be wrong, and I don't really want to do that.

5. The Pittsburgh Penguins

Who doesn't love Kid Crosby (apart from people who live within 100 miles of New Jersey)?  It seems like the Penguins would be an obvious choice, given that they are probably the most compelling team in the NHL.  Basically, they have the same problem as the Hawks.  I feel like every Western Conference fan will throw themselves behind the Pens, and I just dont know if I want to follow them.

The Conflict

4. The Carolina Hurricanes

At first glance, there really isn't a problem with the Canes.  The bandwagon factor is almost zero, it is a team that I don't know a thing about (and that I would enjoy getting to know a little bit), and they even have a couple of compelling players (Staal and Sampsonov) that almost are enough to suck me in.  There are two problems though.  

The first is relatively minor, one that I could probably see past.  It is that I have a hard time rooting for a team to get its second cup, when they have been in a city a shorter time than the Sharks.  The jealousy issue is high, but like I said, I could probably see my way past that conflict were it not for the second one.

I cannot claim to be a Whalers fan, given that they moved 8 years before I arrived in Connecticut.  However, having made plenty of friends who long for the bygone era of Brass Bonanza, I have become something of a Whalers apologist at least.  Given that, and the fact that my friend Brendan would never talk to me again, I'm not sure I can go with the 'Canes (although if the response indicates otherwise, we'll see).

3. The Boston Bruins

The B's are a compelling option.  I have been a Sox fan for about 10 years now, so to root for a Boston team seems natural.  On top of that, Chara and Kessel are two players I really like (American and Slovakian), as well as Lucic, Ryder and Savard.  The problem with Boston is that I have a bunch of friends who are B's fans.  While I am guessing that they would like to have me, I feel like I would have to keep it really under wraps when I was with them, as I wouldn't want to infringe too much on the glory of those who have followed the team all year.  Even having said that, the Brus are an extremely viable option. 

The Contenders

2. The Washington Capitals

Compelling? Check (because of Ovechkin).  Players I like? Check (Ovechkin, Green and Backstrom in particular). Superstar? Check (Ovechkin).  Good for hockey?  Check (becuase of Ovechkin).  Mainstream media coverage of the team?  Check (becuase Ovechkin).  Does Alexander Ovechkin play for this team?  Check.

There are a lot of things to like about the Capitals (at least one, anyways).  The bandwagon factor is high, but to be honest, they would have been my knee jerk reaction when picking a team to adopt.  Definitely a force to be reckoned with in this competition.


1. The Vancouver Canucks

            As of writing this, the Canucks are the clear leader in the clubhouse.  The Sedins are fun to watch, Ryan Kessler is a G, and they even have my old friend Stevie Bernier.  I also like that, for the most part, the Canucks have a roster with guys I don't know a whole lot about.  I like the opportunity to learn more about a team.  They are also the team of my all-time favorite non-Shark (Pavel Bure), so that is a plus.  The one thing is that I don't quite agree with the Canadians (the nationality, not the team), jumping behind the one Canadian team left standing (which the Canucks are) and I have my doubts about joining this annoying trend.

Besides, it will be fun to root for the team that sported my favorite jersey of all time, (even though  they basically now wear this)even if they no longer sport them.  


So there are the options.  Being the guy who wrote this, clearly I am a big fan of participation, so throw me a bone here.  Drop me a line, vote in the poll, and let me know how I am going to get through the rest of the playoffs.

No comments: