I have been a Californian for 6 years now. Coming from Hockeytown, it took some time to get used to fact people here just don’t live for hockey the same as they do in the great state of Michigan.
I have many things to be grateful for in my life – health, amazing friends, a caring family, my precious Izzo, and….NHL Center Ice.
I attended 6 NHL hockey playoff games in all 3 California arenas in just over two weeks – as well as 5 MLB games in 3 different stadiums (which included both American and National League teams) during the same time period. Crazy about sports? Perhaps, just a tad.
Ducks Territory - Disney Hockey
My friend Rysa – a self-proclaimed “hockeyholic” and I attended two Predators v Ducks games.
My initial observations –
What’s up with the security? I have been to the Pentagon – post 9/11 and I don’t believe they had that much muscle!
Holy newborns! I don’t know if I have seen a newborn at the Joe, let alone several. This is definitely Anaheim – hence Disney Hockey!
People – it’s a hockey game, not golf. Their lack of enthusiasm at times reminded me of SF Giants baseball fans. CHEER. SHOUT. It’s ok, they won’t kick you out – in fact, it’s encouraged! I suppose another reason why I see the correlation is because they also have a player who prides himself on looking like a total douchebag.
The last interesting observation is they cover entrance where the zebras come out – so that no one throws anything on them. I know the refereeing in the NHL this season has come under tremendous scrutiny but I didn’t realize Disney Hockey fans were dangerous. How can these fans possibly throw anything at them with their newborn in tow?
Now for my favorite part! The 2nd game I was in the company of future hockey superstar, 5 year old Tory Pitner. Growing in Hockeytown, I am accustomed to seeing and knowing kids who were essentially born with skates on. I’d bore any reader with the list of NHL players who are fellow Michiganders. J It was a welcomed pleasure to see a So Cal child so in love with this sport. (He is also quite smitten with the Duck’s ice girls too!) For a little guy, Tory is well versed in hockey – whether it is the players, their stats, the rules or partially knowing the components of a “Gordie Howe hat trick”. His infatuation for this amazing sport has officially turned the Pitners into a hockey family. Even the patriarch, Tom was sporting a playoff beard! This particular game went into OT and given the wee Pitner was up at 6am ready for the game – the poor guy just ran out of gas!
Kings Territory – Fairweather Hockey
I attended more Kings playoff games than the others – makes sense given my homebase. I saw all 3 Sharks v Kings games. If it’s not obvious to you yet, my blog partner Alyssa is a die-hard Sharks fan our fellow love for hockey – an invite to join her? YYEESS Please! Don’t worry fellow Wingys, I represented us by wearing Wings gear!
I have been to regular season Kings games but playoff hockey does have a different feel – even in fair-weather La La Land.
Alyssa and I first attended Game 3. Yes, THE GAME 3 of 2011. The Sharks down 3-0 in the first period. Alyssa was devastated. Her first playoff hockey game. Her team getting their ass handed to them. I tried to console. “There are two more periods of hockey left” I say. I am sure my consolation had little impact – given I am a Red Wing fan wearing Red Wing gear and simply hoping for a very physical 7 game series between these two teams.
As expected, the LA fans just suck. I realize (only a few that I know) a segment exists that are dedicated, knowledgable and are sans bitchassness tendencies but they appear to be as common as finding a 4 leaf clover. We had fries thrown at us. Um, how old are we? And sadly, when it was communicated to the “fan” in front of us that Alyssa and I probably have seen more Kings games and know more about their own team, they pathetically answered, “Probably”.
Food ordering – people it is a hockey game, not a restaurant. I don’t think you would survive at the Joe if you started focusing on serving food than hockey. And remember, Detroit is one of the fattest cities.
The Kings choked during the second period, allowing the Sharkies to tie it up. All tied at 5 at the end of the period. After a scoreless 3rd period, OT came and unless you were buried under sand, you know the outcome. Sharks win – 6 to 5. The Sharks became only the 4th team in NHL history to overcome a 4 goal deficit during a playoff game.
This was an amazing game. As a hockey fan period – I cannot deny it was truly an honor to witness it. (And thankfully this was the Kings and not the Wings – otherwise I may have been hospitalized)
The second game contained another Sharks win and more annoying King fans. Ironically, I found the Kings fans I met at the Yardhouse prior to the games very enjoyable. Something must happen when they enter into the Staples Center.
This third game had two favorite memories.
Using the Kings towel as a “doormat” - brilliant Kiel.
Seeing Alyssa’s face as her team put down the Kings
As expected, we had a bottle thrown at us as we walked out. Apparently LA fans don’t think the incident at Dodger Stadium was enough bad behavior. Shame.
Sharks Territory – 3 Wings and a Shark
While at the A’s v Angels baseball game, the 7th game of the Blackhawks v Canucks game was also happening. If the Canucks win, it meant a Wingys v Sharkies second round match up. After what was coined as another hella crazy playoff game – it was decided. We would face one another in Round Two. Alyssa and I looked at each other and said “Bring it’.
I flew up to Northern Cali early Saturday morning. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to enjoy Rickey Henderson bobblehead day at the Oakland Coliseum. Rickey Henderson is my all time favorite baseball EVER. I knew the coincidence was just meant to be. But, back to hockey…
The game on that Sunday was the most meaningful playoff game I attended – for reasons that should be obvious to you. RED WINGS!
They served Molson at the Shark Tank. Canadian beer at a hockey game – in California?!?? YYEESS Please!
Although we didn’t win – it was special to enjoy this game with Alyssa and to complete the 3 arena “sweep” of CA-based hockey. I was also joined by two special, Detroit native friends, Chris and Asia.
Although I do consider the Sharks rivals and I am definitely not a Sharks fan, their fans made me proud to know that somewhere in CA people have the ability to –
Show up on time to see their team play
Actually CHEER! I couldn’t hear a pin drop!
Don’t throw objects at opposing fans - They may not LIKE us, but they RESPECT us.
Sharks winning this series still remains to be seen. Clearly, they have the advantage. One thing is for sure - the Sharks weren't going to get their first NHL sweep against us - and sure as hell not in the Joe.
If indeed Game 4 is the last game of the Red Wings’ amazing Captain Lids wins – and this is in fact his last season, let us take time to briefly reflect…
6 Norris Trophies
1 Conn Smythe Trophy
180+ career playoff points - second all time among defenseman (Paul Coffey is 1# one – another <3, yes I am showing my age…)
4 Stanley Cups
Oldest defensiveman to earn 60+ points in a season
12 NHL All-Star games
Olympic Gold winner
I am sure I am missing a few more accolades.
In other words, you are fucking amazing. Any true hockey fan undoubtedly should respect what you have accomplished. The ice won’t be the same without you on it.
This is also most likely our last entry under the Sugar blog. We will be moving to a different platform shortly. Stay tuned!