It is a Friday night during the summer and I am watching Sci Fi no surprises there.
My ponderance of the evening is player fan relations in the NHL. I think most of you know me. I am one of the diehards that waits for the Flyers players mostly after games but often after practices too. I have a jersey project the jersey is for me and me alone. I intend to frame it and put it on my wall. I do go to autograph appearance and events where I can get autographs that way but to me the coolest thing still is watching how a player interacts with the fans, especially the kids.
There is truly to me not a cooler thing then to see a kid meet a player for the very first time. You can see the awe inspiring moment happening right there. It truly makes me feel good watching those moments. The little kid gets an unprecedented smile and they talk about it for hours after.
Heck, I am how old and I can still tell you who the very first Flyer I ever met was where I met them and how much that moment changed my life forever.
I also can tell you the first Flames player I met was and that they are the only player that was never a Flyer to sign my very precious Mark Howe jersey.
Anyways back to my ponderance, I know who the Flyers players that stop everyday with out fail are, who have stopped often but not everyday and who stops so randomly that you would never in a million years guess that they actually would stop. Now that is just in my experiences. I definitely do not go everyday. I know people who do (not sure how they do it). The thing that worries me is that the majority of the young core to this team do not stop. Several of the players who are regular stoppers are not even with the Flyers any longer.
That is where my question begins. I remember the days of the 90’s when you could wait at a player’s car after practice to get an autograph. Today’s players have it fairly easy. Their cars are in a security protected lot. They have an alternate way out where they do not have to stop or pass any fans. I understand in this day and age there are the autograph hounds, as we that wait call them. The people that have no idea who the player is that just pulled up, but they have stuff for all the players to sign and then they resell the items. I strongly dislike the people that do that. I dislike them even more when they send their kids up to the player to get them to sign items. To me they are a big reason as to why many players do not stop. (note to players these guys go to the autograph appearance things too so you don’t stop them completely by only signing at appearances). I also understand that there are some truly weird and scary people that stalk these players, people that follow the players around and then back to their houses. I think that is horrible that people do that. Hockey players are people too and deserve their privacy.
Majority of hockey players are the best people you will ever meet. They are so awesome with kids. They give back to their communities. They are average folks just like you and me. I fear the loss of the fans knowing their teams in this manner because the players have gone to an age where they do not interact with fans anywhere but planned events and even then not always so well. (I am referring to a few Flyers carnival stories I have heard about players being on their cell phone the entire time in the autograph booths).
I have heard stories from around the league where the majority of the players stop they talk with the fans and sign things. That those teams that I have heard about that they players do it everyday and they have a good rapport with the fans. I think that is awesome and encouraging. I give kudos to all those that do that and do it often.
Tell me, I want to know how your team does with this and I want to hear your stories about that first time you ever met a pro hockey player.