It might be hard to believe since I grew up in North Dakota, but I was never much of a hockey fan growing up. I didn’t really understand it, and it didn’t seem that entertaining. Honestly, if I wanted to watch full-grown men with mullets beating the crap out of each other, I could have just walked down Main Street anytime after 9 p.m.
Over the last couple of years though, I’ve started watching the playoffs anytime that it’s televised, mostly because my wife is a fan. I have to admit that I’m starting to enjoy it. I like the intensity and the quick play. To me, it’s like a faster paced soccer. I love how the excitement builds as the puck gets closer to the goal, and even the mullets don’t bother me that much. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the playoffs are right in the middle of the worst time of the sports year. College basketball is over and football is still months away. I guess there’s always professional basketball and baseball, but I would rather stab my eyes out with a letter opener than watched those. Therefore…hockey.
I’m not capable of watching sports as a neutral party. I always have to have a dog in the race (usually the losing one). Therefore, I needed to figure out which team was going to be “my team.” There’s a lot that goes into this decision. You don’t want to pick a perennial loser, but you don’t want to jump onto the favorite and become a bandwagon fan either. You need to figure out if you like any of their players, and they need to have jerseys that you wouldn’t mind wearing. There’s one factor that trumps all of these others though…which team does my wife like?
You see, CinC HOUSE and I have a long and storied history of hating each other’s teams. It all started with our colleges since she graduated from the University of Missouri, and I went to the University of Kansas. Rivalries don’t get much more heated than that, and we may have actually violated several treaties by getting married. While our football teams aren’t exactly rivals (me: Dolphins, her: Broncos), she still loves cheering for whoever Miami is playing every Sunday (the one exception being New England who, I think we can all agree, are the devil). We also like soccer, and when I realized that Major League Soccer actually has a pretty good product, I started cheering for the Colorado Rapids. That led her to immediately back their hated rival Real Salt Lake (in her defense, she did spend the first 13 years of her life in Salt Lake City).
That brings us to hockey where she is a Blues fan because she went to high school just outside St. Louis. As I tapped into my limited hockey knowledge, I found that their natural rivalry was the Blackhawks, but that just didn’t sit well with me. Therefore, I decided to dig a little deeper. I watched a couple Blues games to find their weakness, and a very strange thing happened. I actually enjoyed watching them play. I enjoyed it enough that I started rooting for them. I quickly became a St. Louis Blues fan.
We now have an interesting dynamic going in the house. We cheer at the same time instead of throwing insults at each other. We can actually watch the games in the same room. We don’t have to glare at each other every time somebody scores. We are actually pleasant to each other on game day.
I don’t like it. It’s weird and creepy and unnatural. If we were meant to cheer for the same team, she wouldn’t have decided to go to the world’s most evil college.
Maybe I should take another look at those Blackhawks jerseys…