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Why a hockey fan?

Tuesday, 05.18.2010 / 10:32 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

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Why a hockey fan?
The star power of a Crosby, Ovechkin or Brodeur might be missing, but it seems like the Stanley Cup Playoffs are drawing more non-hockey fans to the table.
I've been running a hockey website for over five years now and I am always surprised by the majority of comments from readers, not only at my site but on other hockey websites and blogs, too.

If you happen to follow some of these sites, no doubt you have run into a comment or two from a person who goes by the name of Baroque.

I recently had the opportunity to meet her but did not really get a chance to talk hockey with her. It is something I really wanted to do, but the environment we were in would not allow it.

 
But then I noticed via her Twitter account that Baroque was participating in an "ask me a question" segment, so I decided to send in a question blindly (meaning she did not know it was me) and waited for her response.

The question I submitted was, "Why such a hockey fan?" Her response: "As for why I'm a hockey fan (and baseball, for that matter) while a lot of people who are exposed to the sport don't take to it: I'm not really sure. I'm not at all athletic myself, so I've always been impressed by those who have that kind of physical talent, and something about the sport just really caught my attention. It's just a perfect sport for the winter months in the northern part of the U.S. because at a time when the world outside is cold and dark and still, hockey is all bright lights, deafening sounds of cheers and goal horns, the vibrant contrast of colored jerseys against the ice, fire and heart and speed and the sharp flash of steel blades as sudden as the bite of a winter wind driving snow directly into your face on the walk out to your car in the parking lot after work.

You can read more here, but those words from Baroque sure left an impression on me.

With some huge hockey names out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and the team you either love or hate, the Detroit Red Wings, our game continues on, even earning rave reviews and higher TV ratings than in the recent past.

Is it sports fans finally are realizing the vast majority of hockey players are down to earth guys and are getting tired or fed up with the "look at me" attitude many of the athletes possess in other sports? Or it could be the game that is being played on the ice is attracting people to watch and is winning them over as a hockey fan?

Whatever it is, I want our game to flourish and be recognized as a great sport that is followed by loyal fan bases which continue to attract new fans.

I recently read a story that stated hockey, within the next 10 years, will be back on the "sporting calendar." Ten years? How about right now was my response. I don't have 10 years to wait. I want our game to be the chief topic on every sports radio station. I want the chatter around the water cooler to be about hockey. I want people to know the history behind the Stanley Cup.

Last night, late into the night, I was listening to a nationally syndicated sports radio show and the host asked, "Why would anyone follow the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens during the Stanley Cup Playoffs?" Then the guy in the second chair asks, "What is a Hab anyways? At least in American sports we know what a nickname is."

Well, to those on that late night show, if I answered your questions, I'd only be playing right into your trap, which I won't do. But I will say, you look awfully weak by not knowing the answers in the first place, yet you ask your listeners to call in and talk about any sport.

We don't need people like you; we need people that actually can talk about sports -- any kind -- at any time. If you don't want to talk about hockey, that is OK with me, but don't knock it if you don't know anything about it.

Done -- now I feel better about our game. Spread the word, hockey is back.

Questions, comments, remarks? E-mail me at pk@kuklaskorner.com or visit Kukla's Korner for the latest hockey has to offer.



Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh