Being excited or even knowing that the hockey season is starting is something I wouldn’t have done years ago.
Our hockey season begins tonight when the Nashville Predators open their 2019-2020 season against the Minnesota Wild.
Growing up in the South, the sport of ice hockey wasn’t known that well. For me it has mostly been football, basketball and baseball. It wasn’t until the late 70s that I watched a hockey game on television when the Atlanta Flames were playing. I followed the drama when the Flames were sold and moved to Calgary. I remember that at one point it was rumored that actor Glenn Ford would buy the team and keep them in Atlanta but that never happened. Hockey teams have had a difficult time building anything in Atlanta.
I attended my first hockey game in October of 1983 while attending military postal school at Ft. Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indianapolis Checkers were a minor league team who played an exhibition game against the United States Olympic hockey team. This was the first team after the “Miracle on Ice” team which had won the Gold Medal in the 1980 Olympics. It was quite a different experience watching the game in person.
I started following hockey from a distance and watching a few games during the Stanley Cup playoffs. It wasn’t until many years later until I attended another hockey game. I went with a co-worker to watch the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks. We drove from Macon, Georgia to Tallahassee, Florida just to watch the game. Finally in 1996, Macon got a minor league hockey team. First it was the Macon Whoopee and later the Macon Trax.
Hockey fell off my radar when hockey finally left Macon after the 2005 season.
When my wife and I moved to Nashville in 2014, we had heard about the Nashville Predators. I had seen them on television at times but never gave them much thought. My wife bought us tickets to a game in 2015 but due to a snow/ice storm on the day of the game, we were unable to attend. She contacted the front office and they sent us four sets of tickets for any game at the start of the 2015-2016 season. I had never attended a National Hockey League (NHL) game and my wife had never been to a hockey game. Those four games hooked us and we have been Predators’ fans since then. We aren’t able to go to every game but when we can’t go to the game in person we rarely miss watching on television. It has been an amazing experience for us. My wife loves to coach the team and it is funny to watch her fuss at them when things aren’t going well. Nashville Predators’ Coaches should be thankful she around them when she’s doing her coaching. I had a feeling once we went to a game in person that she would be hooked. I am proud of how well she has picked up the game.
It was fun being a part of the Predators’ Stanley Cup run two seasons ago. This city was consumed with the team as fans filled the streets and parks downtown to watch the games. It was really a fun ride and we hope this season repeats that experience.
I would have to say that hockey is ranked right behind football as my favorite sport. Football will always be my number one but hockey has moved up past the other sports for a solid place behind football. I’m not a fan of the fighting and although there is low scoring, there is constant action which you can’t say about baseball or football.
Maybe I didn’t “grow up” with hockey but I am a fan now and excited about the season starting.