I have always loved sports, and as I've grown older my interests have expanded. After watching coverage of the NHL playoffs this year and listening to the all talk about the Stanley Cup on sports radio, I decided that this year I would become a hockey fan. As a life-long NFL and Dallas Cowboys fan, I have slowly expanded into other sports. First, to the NBA, then last year to MLB.
Becoming interested in a new sport is an exciting. It is an event that begins a life-long journey, and the beginning can only be experienced one time. As I began to research hockey, I spent a lot of time reading Wikipedia, studying up on the history of the sport, the rules of the game, and the various teams. Choosing a team to root for is an amazing thing, and there are so many factors that go into it. In my experience with the NFL, it was something given to me by my family. I grew up watching the Cowboys, and it is forever a part of me. With other sports, I have had to make my own way.
With the NBA, I became a Celtics fan during the 2007-08 season. Watching the Celtics pull off some great trades to land Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett caught my interest. Following their journey that ultimately culminated in winning a championship was something that I'll always carry with me. As for MLB, when my son was born I tried to work weekends and take days off during the week to stay at home with him. Since there is a decent amount of baseball on during the day, we started watching together and because of my TV market, I get all of the Rockies games and I was hooked.
The NHL is different though. The Kings won the Stanley Cup, and there was no hockey to watch. How was going to decide which team was going to be mine? I could have waited until the season started, watched some games, and go from there, but I'm impatient. I wanted to pick now. So I started reading about the various teams. Looking up players, team histories, jerseys, championships, even funny flow-charts like this one. After spending way too much time studying a sport that I couldn't even watch yet, I decided to become a Senators fan.
It was a great choice. Ottawa has a storied history, a future Hall of Fame captain, an up-and-coming defenseman, and a great outlook for the future. They're not champions right now, so I wouldn't be hopping on another bandwagon (Celtics), but they're not terrible either, so I wouldn't be waiting years for an awful team to become a contender (Rockies). From my perspective, they also didn't seem like a internationally popular team whose fans are hated everywhere (Cowboys).
I'm psyched. I ordered a Senators t-shirt, and put their window sticker on my car. I can't watch enough NHL network, and I'm even addicted to NHL radio on XM, listening to talk shows and replays of old games. All I have to do is sit back and wait for the season to start. Then I hear about the lockout. But how can this be? The NHL just had a lockout a couple of years ago. Oh, it was seven years and the CBA expired? Time sure does fly. I just went through this with the NBA and the NFL last year. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
I feel silly that I'm so upset, being that I have no fan credentials. What right do I have when I just anointed myself as a new Sens fan less than a few months ago? Now I read that Alfie might retire before I even get the chance to watch him play. I'm conflicted, because I don't even feel like I have earned the right to call him Alife, or to call the Senators the Sens. I haven't earned it yet, although it will come in time. Unless the lockout takes that away from me. I have all the time in the world to watch the Senators, to become a great NHL fan, to learn the rules of the game and all of the different teams and players.
I have the rest of my life. Daniel Alfredsson doesn't have that time though. I knew coming into this deal that I only had one, maybe two years at the most to watch him play. Reading about what he means to other Ottawa fans, I wanted to experience that feeling too. I am able to cope with delaying that pleasure, but I'm not sure how I'll feel it is denied to me altogether. I can only hope that a deal gets done soon. My journey into NHL fandom has been delayed enough already, and I'm ready for my new love affair to begin.