My foray into this obsession began at a pretty young age.
My home town had an ice rink and little else to do. The stories of getting tickets for ice hockey in my hometown back in the 80's are pretty legendary. The reason? American sports (football in particular) were all of a sudden being broadcast on our TV's!
For years in England we were aware of this outlandish sport where people basically play "futuristic Rugby", but no one had actually been able to see a game. The interest in American Football piqued the nation's interest in other sports which we did not have common access to. All of a sudden amateur basketball started popping up, and dads all across the country were staying up until late on Sunday nights to catch the Buffalo Bills playing the Bengals.
Whilst I'm fairly sure hockey existed as a pro sport in our country prior to our media placing a spotlight on it, it did wonders for the game. Our town just happened to have an ice rink and a decent team when the people were ready to get into a new sport.
Getting tickets to see the Telford Tigers was a challenge! Queueing in the cold starting at 6am on a Saturday morning was just the beginning. When the box office opened at 9am (no tickets sold prior to game day!), if you hadnt already succumbed to hypothermia, you were one of the lucky ones!
Those kids lucky enough to get to see the game were changed! They would come into school on Monday and tell everyone about this bloke who got checked into the boards, and these other two guys were fighting. I'm surprised the sport wasnt bigger!
Anyway, as a result of the success of the pro team, lots of junior teams popped up and although I never played myseld I must have gone to school with at least 10 kids who did play. Many of which went on to represent Britain at the junior level, and many of those guys still play for semi-pro teams (They pay you, but you have to keep your day job)
Over the years, interest waned in our local team and I think they declared bankruptcy at least twice.
Fast forward to the nineties, and once again a channel has stepped up to show NHL hockey on TV again. and live no less! As long as you dont mind staying up until 2am to watch it! This worked perfectly for me as my girlfriend at the time was living in California and I was keeping almost an East coast schedule so that we could talk at a normal time. Whilst whispering sweet nothings to my sweetheart I got to fight off those sleepy feelings by catching hockey games, and once again my interest was sparked.
The first time I got to watch a Stanley cup series was the year the Devils played the Ducks. I just happened to be visiting the states whilst this was going down. I remember even staying up to see Giguerre on the late show.
My girlfriend and I got married! and her not really wanting to live in cold, dreary England meant that I made plans to move out here. and so I moved to California, the Bay Area to be a little more exact. This was still back in the day when you could still watch hockey on ESPN! and I did. Whatever chance I got to see a game, I took it. I followed the Sharks because they were my local team, but the further I got into the sport, the more I felt like the Sharks were my team, not just because they were local.
That first Christmas my wife bought us tickets to see the Sharks play Phoenix and of course we won! I think that was the same season we went to the conference finals. A good year to really be a hockey obsessed Sharks fan.
From there I have tried to attend as many games as my wallet would allow. This season it's 12 games, last season was 2 games and the season before was 1 game.
I would say the one thing that has caused my Shark interest to spike in the last couple of years has been high speed internet and DVR. The internet for discussion and review of hockey highlights and DVR because my wife didnt want to be a hockey widow.
Wow, if you read all of that, you win a lollipop.