This weekend is Hockey Weekend Across America. I love that we get a whole weekend to celebrate and love this great sport.
Throughout Aerys this weekend we’re putting together a collection of posts about different topics. Today we’re wearing jerseys (or in my case, a Blues shirt….what, I work in a lab and can’t have huge baggy sleeves) and telling our favorite hockey stories.
I am, for all intents and purposes, very new to this hockey fandom thing, yet there are still so many amazing memories I have. There was #EpicDec and the road trip to Nashville with two of my favorite ladies. There are the friendships I’ve made and the people I’ve met and watching Cam Janssen score a goal against Detroit. There are the games I’ve been to and the comebacks I’ve seen. All of it makes me love this sport more and more.
And yet, one memory stands out from the bunch, like a beacon of light. The beginning of it all for me.
I’ve told this story before, but I will tell it again. The year was 2009, and I’d just watched my Cardinals have the most disastrous exit from the playoffs ever. I was sad. Oh so sad. My friend Mike had a plan, though. He knew what he was going to do to take my mind off the cold, lonely off-season I had ahead of me.
He was going to get me into hockey.
And so we began. He would draw out rinks and explain the rules to me. Offsides, icing, how the points system worked, everything. We watched games on TV, and slowly I began to see the inherent beauty in the sport.
As his Twitter handle might suggest, Mike is a HUGE Blackhawks fan. His goal was to make me one as well. Many of the games I watched as I learned the sport were Chicago games, which is why you won’t find me hating on the Hawks. However, Mike made one rather large mistake. He took me to a Blues game first.
I will absolutely never forget this game.
Mid-November of 2009, against the Canucks. We were a mere seven rows off the ice, and I had no idea what I was in for. I had NO CLUE that things would move so FAST, that I would find myself leaning forward during the chippy plays, that I would find myself instantly attached to this team, the ones with the Blue Note and the Arch across their chests.
My friends, in this game there was a Blues goal and a fight within the first minute of the game. There were hard hits and quick shots. I could SEE just how fast Andy McDonald was.
And then there was the David Perron hat trick.
As hats rained down on us, I knew there was no turning back. I was so absolutely hooked on this sport, THIS TEAM that as we walked out of the Scottrade Center that day, Mike turned and saw the dazed look on my face, sighed, and said to me, “I just created a monster for the wrong team, didn’t I?”
Yes, he most certainly did.
This game is my favorite memory because it started it all for me. Not everyone can say they can pinpoint the very instant they became a fan, as many people were born into loving this team, but I can. For that I am lucky.
The Blues have burrowed their way so far into my soul that I can’t ever imagine NOT cheering for them. They’re at times one of the most frustrating teams in the world to watch, but then there are those days that they can do no wrong. There are the days that Perron will slide the most beautiful assist over to an even prettier Backes back-hand. Or the times that Oshie will score a goal from his knees. There are the days that Andy Mac and Arnott will come back from their respective injuries and start reminding people who they are by racking up goals, or Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak will throw up a brick wall and make other teams feel like they’re shooting at a brick wall.
I love this team, by whom I live and breathe. I love learning about them and their history. I love talking hockey with anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.
I love this sport. I love these Blues.
This is my favorite memory.