Hello BOT faithful,
I figure since it’s my first post, it probably makes sense that you know a little something about me so when you’re reading you know where I’m coming from. I live and breathe this game. My only problem with hockey is that I’m not watching or playing it right now. My oldest son was born on Gretzky’s birthday, and my youngest shares a birthday with Patrick Kane. When I was 7 my friend and D partner Rusty started calling me “Boomer” on the ice. I never could skate or shoot well, I think he was just being a good friend. Eventually the other kids could raise the puck too and my shot lost its luster, but I play D weekly in a rec league and can still shoot it like a 7-year old.
Being born in Montreal but moving to Toronto when I was a month old, my parents had to adjust to life with a Leaf-loving son the same way they’d have to adjust to having Teen Wolf as a son, only unlike Harold Howard my dad was not a werewolf. Clearly my mom and dad loved me but I suspect probably not as much as they would have if I’d been a Habs fan. Still, they had no choice; I bled blue and white growing up. I remember when Wendel Clark was drafted in 1985. I clamored for Rick Vaive‘s autograph. When I was 10 I got hit in the arm with a puck at a Leaf game, the team felt pity on me and I watched the 3rd period from the Leafs’ bench at Maple Leaf Gardens. I always played as the Leafs in every video game. I grew up in Toronto throughout the painful ’80s, then the exhilarating ’90s, and my passion for the Buds was strong at the turn of the century. The Hockey Gods, however, had other plans. In 2000 I moved to California to start a new job and found myself in the heart of Shark Territory. I still loved my Leafs but found myself rooting for the Titans in Teal. Ultimately, however, my love affair with the Sharks didn’t start once I’d moved here, it started with the team’s first draft pick ever, the pride of Foxwarren, Manitoba, Patrick J. Falloon.
Falloon brought with him a promise of building something special. He was a good ol’ Canadian boy and was the promise of a new start for the NHL out west. The Kings were established but to a Canadian kid they were just the jerks who’d stolen Wayne from Edmonton. The Sharks had never done Canada any wrong, and Falloon was a gift from Canada to the United States on par with the French’s gift of the Statue of Liberty. Take this gift celebrating your new hockey team. I drafted him as a rookie in my fantasy hockey league and diligently followed his stats in the box scores. Remember, this was pre-Internet, and we kept fantasy scores on graph paper. By proxy, I was following the Sharks nonstop…but still never could rationalize buying any of that sweet teal gear the rest of the hockey world coveted in the early 1990s.
My situation changed dramatically in a short period of time. Days after having accepted the job offer to move to California in early 2000, I bought my first Sharks jersey (Owen Nolan away). Later that same year I was lucky enough to get invited to a preseason game against the Minnesota Wild. Wait, what? There are actual, knowledgeable fans here in California? They know when to cheer? They know what “icing” means? That differed greatly from my other visits to “non-traditional hockey markets,” like the time I went to a Florida Panthers game and a fan asked her boyfriend what “that blue line” was called. So I started going to games whenever I could, soaking up the environs of the Tank. I have been to NHL games in Minnesota, Toronto, Miami, Ottawa, Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Vancouver, Los Angeles and New York (MSG), but I’m completely convinced the Tank is the best place in the NHL to see a game. People might fight me on this one, but even players from other teams admit it.
More than that, though, the Sharks have become a family affair for me. They were the first team my wife and I could both cheer for together with a clean conscious. We are current season ticket holders. My sons both have Sharks jerseys, Sharks nightlights, Sharkie stuffed animals and walk around our house doing their Shark Chomp. As much Leafs hockey as they’ve seen, they’ve seen far more Sharks hockey (both live and on TV). My eldest has actually turned off Leaf games, saying “I no like this game, I want to watch the Sharks!” I have given up any hope of making these boys Leaf fans, these boys are Sharks fans and I don’t mind it one bit. You hear me, Internet? I am GREAT with it.
That’s enough about me, I just thought you should know who you’re dealing with. One last thing: I am a fan of lists. I always figure an empirical, systematic ranking system for things helps organize your life a little more. One of my favorite sports writers/commentators, Dave Dameshek, has made a cottage industry out of his lists. In the spirit of the Shek and this blog, I thought this would be a good way to sign off. I present to you the first of my lists here on Blades of Teal:
Top 5 Hockey Video Games:
- NHL ’94, Sega Genesis
- Blades of Steel, Nintendo Entertainment System
- Ice Hockey, Nintendo Entertainment System
- 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge, Arcade
- NHL Hockey, (insert current edition year here), PS3
~ Blueline Boomer
Want to debate a list? Tweet me @bluelinebomber
Blades of Teal ~ The Final Word On Sharks Hockey.