Originally sent to Ek for the My Blog bit and since I wanted to share -
Why I am a diehard hockey fan:
1974, Flyers, Stanley Cup, Bobby Clarke. I was 4. The Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals. The moment came, that moment that every sports fan lives for, that moment that seals a lifelong fate, that moment that takes your breath away and stays with you forever, that moment that makes you a hockey fan. Do you all remember when it happened to you? Can you remember every detail of every image? Did it change you? I do and it did.
This is what I remember - from 1974 at 4 years old - and why I still to this day bleed Orange and Black no matter what place my team comes in, no matter what happens.
I was fast asleep in my bedroom when my Dad came up and woke me up talking about the Flyers. The who? What are you talking about I thought. The Flyers, I had heard my parents talk about them, but I thought they were the people who flew the "Apes" (I was 4 and Apes were planes). I had no idea truly what a Flyer was at that point in my life, but I was about to. My Dad was telling me that the Flyers were going to with the Stanley Cup. Cup - what was that and why did it matter so much. I truly had no idea what was about to happen to me and how my life was going to change. When I got downstairs I remember staring at the black and white t.v. and wondering what these guys were doing. I also remember that voice, that voice that any Flyers fan around in the 70's, 80's and 90's can remember - Gene Hart. I remember thinking how cool these guys with the shaggy hair and sticks were skating around on the ice. My Mom was at the rink all the time skating so I knew what hockey was, I just had no idea what I was witnessing at that time. These guys were fast, they were strong and they were good, very good. I remember asking my Dad about that guy with the big pads, although I do not remember what he said. Apparently that was Bernie.....who I most definitely learned about later.
Then it happened. Those words. That voice. That instant. The Flyers win the Stanley Cup, The Flyers win the Stanley Cup. Still clueless on what this Stanley Cup was, I watched the t.v. intently. Then it happened. That moment. That frozen, etched in your brain for a lifetime moment. That moment that can never be forgotten. Every sports fan in Canada and North America have seen it in pictures since, but I saw it happen.
That unbelievable trophy was lifted above the toothless grinned, long haired Bobby Clarke and I was hooked. The elation that he had on his face, the look of triumph, pride and accomplishment. All in one moment. It changed me. That was the moment that I became a hockey fan. A true, died in the orange and black hockey fan. It has stuck with me now for my entire life and will continue to until I have no breath left.
Then the second moment came that solidified my place in the hockey world of fandom. 1980. I remember the time, the place, the weather, the smells, the sounds and the moment that the US beat the Russians. I still to this day get tears in my eyes when I think about that event. It was incredible. It was ridiculous. There was no way that was going to happen and it did. How could any man, woman or child who witnessed that event live and live in the United States of America, or the free world for that matter, not become a hockey fan? They couldn't. I have talked to many people who have had that as their moment, their time of enlightenment if you will and they all say the same thing. That that was the most amazing sporting event they have ever witnessed, bar none. I remember thinking that this was a moment, a moment that will change how people perceive things. I didn't necessarily understand why I thought that, but that moment was so impactfu and powerful that it cannot be forgotten.
Last year my wife got me a signed picture from the 1980 Olympians - all of them signed it and one signed - Thanks Herbie. When I opened it I got tears in my eyes and whenever I look at it I think about how unbelievable and how incredible that moment, that game, that time was in American sports history and in my history.
Amazing. There is only one other sports moment that had that impact on me and it was baseball and 1980 as well. If you are from Philly and/or a baseball fan that one is likely easy to figure out.
Hockey to me has a lot of meanings. Tradition. Power. Poise. Grace. Beauty. Grittiness. Brutality. Honor. All good for their own reasons. All good because of what it stands for - Team. Hockey is the ultimate team game as there is no other game on this planet that you *MUST* rely on your teammates for like hockey. Hockey players, hockey people and hockey fans all understand this. While there are those that disagree with some of the rules and allowances that take place in hockey, all true hockey fans will agree that we have the honor to watch that most powerful, intense sport in the world. I hope that hockey remains the game that it is today and does not change too much. I cannot wait to give my son and daughter that moment that my Dad gave to me in 1974.