Today I am going to write a general hockey blog avoiding the DP talks, Tavares interests, and disappointing predictions that many have for the Islanders next season. Instead I'm going to write about what I was just doing on my laptop, and it's something I frequently find myself doing when I'm bored. Or when it's the school year, I usually do this when I have to write a paper since procrastination is my middle name.
I was on YouTube searching Eric Cairns fights, Steve Webb hits, looking up the Bates penalty shot, and watching Eric Godard fight Tie Domi at center ice.
Then I thought to myself that it would be fun to ask the fans on this web site how they exactly came to be a fan of their respected teams. For me it didn't take too much.
I had been to a few hockey games here and there when I was a kid. I usually only went if a friend of mine had tickets because my family wasn't that big into hockey. My dad grew up as an Islanders fan when he lived in the Bronx, but when we moved out here in '96 after I had lived in Brooklyn my whole life, the Islanders were not exactly the team you wanted to watch. But when I was a freshman in high school in 2002, my friend asked me to go to the Islanders/Mighty Ducks game. I knew a few of the names on the back of the jerseys from when I used to collect hockey cards in elementary school which made me realize this team was better than I thought. I saw Peca, Osgood, Hamrlik, and Snow and was pleased to see I actually knew some players. I even shocked my friend with knowing that Peca used to be on Buffalo and Snow was formerly a Flyer.
The game kicked off right away. I specifically remember eyeing Steve Webb for most of the game because he was a pinball out there and starting lots of trouble as usual. By the end of the night Mark Parrish had a hat trick on stick night. I never saw so many hats go flying on to the ice before, and being that this was the first hockey game that I was old enough to actually appreciate, I went nuts. I walked out with my stick and immediately started playing street hockey with a wiffle ball and paint bucket in my driveway the next day. Since then I've been a die hard fan. Two years later I started skating at ice hockey clinics before joining a house league, started to play roller hockey for my high school team before coaching the team when I graduated, became an on-ice official while continuing to play for fun, and am now a proud member of the New York Islanders blog box.
Pretty much whenever I am bored I end up doing my typical YouTubing of Islander memories. The 2001-2002 season was my first season as an Islander fan and by far my favorite. My favorite moments come from sitting sixth row during Game 6 of the playoffs, watching Eric Cairns pummel Corson at center ice and skate off with his finger in the air and giving Bates a pound as they escorted themselves to the locker room. I remember being home sick the following season and not being able to go to the first Leafs/Isles re-match...I was glued to the TV listening to the "We Want Tucker" chants and watching Eric Godard make his NHL debut to take on Tie Domi.
The 2002-2004 era was probably the most fun I had watching Islanders hockey. Don't worry, I am well aware that the 2003-2004 year was a horrible one where the Islanders barely scrambled into the eight placed playoff spot in the east. It didn't matter. The Isles/Leafs rivalry as well as the always fun to watch Isles/Rangers rivalry was filled with fights and hearted out hockey games, even if the team wasn't that talented. I used to arrange my work schedule around these games. I'd either work the day shift or take off completely to make sure nothing got in the way of watching these games. The average Islander game would get taped if I had to miss it and I'd watch it when I got home.
These are some of the reasons why I get scared when I think about this team possibly moving some day. The Islanders have brought me lots of fun memories, helped me make a lot of the friends I have today, and been a major part of my life in more ways than one. Some people don't realize that this franchise runs deeper than a team that finishes last place in the standings or effects the surrounding living community with traffic and irrigation issues. This team means a whole lot more.
But pretty much I am where I am today because a friend of mine randomly asked me to go to an Islanders/Mighty Ducks game. What made you the fan that you are today?