Am I a hockey fan now? – The Daily Chronicle of Utah
Jersey-clad fans take to the streets. Black on yellow, yellow on black, sometimes blue and orange of visiting islanders; so many bear logos i don’t know which i prefer. A palpable tension in the air. The confident feeling, but prepared for disappointment, only found in a sports city born and raised like Boston, where 96 years of fandom run deep, as thick as the blood running through their veins. These fans carry the hopes and dreams of generations before them and generations to come.
A man in inline skates with a shaggy, unkempt playoff beard and a Bruin teddy bear hanging around his neck skates up and down on Causeway Street, leading the crowd singing “Let’s Go Bruins!
Finding ourselves unexpectedly at this moment, we stand outside the entrance to the arena. You ask yourself out loud, “Is there really a game tonight?” We thought it was tomorrow. But damn it, how many times do you find yourself in a real blue-collar sports town with the specter of a game five Stanley Cup Playoffs, literally across the street?
I’m never the type to turn down a game. No skin in the result? It’s okay, I love competition. I look at my wife, Tora, and she struggles to find a reason why we shouldn’t spend the money. “That’s our whole budget on day one,” she says. In the next breath, “If we don’t go now, when will we?” I know my game. Keep quiet, let her figure it out for herself. Let the environment make the sale.
With a sigh, she said, “Go ahead and look for tickets.” She raised a slight protest when the final prize appeared on screen, but she gave her answer. I press confirm and the tickets appear in my account. BAL314, row 10, seats 9-10.
Am I a hockey fan now?
Capture TD Garden, we don’t know what to expect. All I know is hockey arenas are getting cold. We’re going to need some new loot – some gear to remember the night. We browse the team store but nothing catches our eye. No need to rush things; let’s go to our seats.
It’s 57 minutes for the puck to drop when we sit down. The lights on the ice are out, the arena is dimly lit. I am in paradise: the people who watch, the paradise of observation. The weight of the fandom all around us. The chants begin but quickly die off in the half-full bowl.
I point to the rafters, not far above us. The 17 Boston Celtics Championship Banners; the six Bruins title banners. Countless people have retired from both franchises. Legends have played in this city, and legends never die. You can feel the story.
Am I a hockey fan now?
About 30 minutes before play time now. In shock, knowing but not fully understanding what we are going to go through, the lights come on and the visiting islanders take to the ice. Strewn with boos and a few chosen sentences that these pages do not allow me to share, the tension mounts. I look to my left and see Tora allowing a brief hint of a smile. This childhood wonder that only comes from seeing electricity in action.
The Boston Bruins run out of the tunnel onto the ice. The music drowns the fans, the yellow towels sway wildly as the local crowd gets angry. I admit, I cried. It was a while. The moments in life that we all seek but find so rarely. The kind of moment in which we are often too carried away to recognize it and hold onto it. A man to my right exclaims, “Now this is what I missed” as he waves to the mirror – he feels it too.
Am I a hockey fan now?
Tora grabs my knee. “Let’s go get some swimsuits, NOW!” She’s as carried away by it as I am, taken by the energy and the joy in the arena. Two team shops later and we return to our seats. Tora wearing a black hoodie with a “Spoken-B” Logo Bruin because “It reminds me of our first Salt Lake Bees game. I was wearing my new white and brown Bruins hoodie. Now we belong and now we can watch hockey.
The puck falls. The speed of the game is overwhelming. Powerful but beautiful. The Bruins score first and the roof almost blows the whole arena up because of the excitement.
I try to teach him the best I can from my limited knowledge of the game; but let’s be honest, i’m out of my element and i’m not ready to be ridiculed for saying something bad. I take a mental note to study hockey so that we can learn it together.
We boo the refs, applaud the big shots and lament five Islanders goals. Our beloved Bruins (we’re lifelong fans, beware) drop out of Game 5 and fall behind 3-2 in the best of seven second-round series. But the evening was a success.
She’s a hockey fan now. I guess I am too.