Heading into this 2008-2009 NHL season, I have the great opportunity to keep you apprised of all things Minnesota Wild, but before we really get into all of that I think you should get to know who I am just a little bit.
My name is Steve and I have not always been a Minnesotan. In fact, I grew up just outside of Buffalo, New York, watching the likes of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Phil Housley, and Tom Barrasso battle it out with Adams Division foes like the defunct Hartford Whalers and Quebec Nordiques. Back in the days when jerseys were jerseys and not form fitting RBK wetsuit designs with ugly logos more deserving of the old Roller Hockey International league. Back in the days when you honored hockey's founders with division and conference names instead of needing to have geography explained to you.
And to the dismay of my family, while I watched every Sabres game I could, as well as any Hockey Night In Canada game I could pull down off the antenna on the roof from channels 5 or 11, I was a die hard bleed-orange-and-black Philadelphia Flyers fan. As such, I had to share in the successes and failures and heartbreaks all on my own.
I moved to Dallas in 1991 and rumors of the Winnipeg Jets making the shift to the Lone Star State were rampant. I was all for it. After just a few months of Texas, I couldn't stand it. I needed seasons, I needed brisk autumns and frigid winters. And mostly I needed hockey. When it didn't look like much was going to happen, the winds of change pushed me to Minnesota where, only months later, everyone was told the North Stars were moving to Dallas.
After a few more years in south Florida, where I attended a few Panthers/Flyers matchups, it was back to Minnesota in 1997. Even without pro hockey you are never far from a game in Minnesota. As a kid who has played from the age of 7 right up to today, this area is perfect for the hockey lover. I've officiated. I've coached. And now I get to watch my own son begin his hockey life in my living room, in our driveway, and on the ice. He also has a Flyers jersey.
And a Wild jersey.
Why the Wild if I am such a Flyer backer you may ask? Proximity is the main thing. I live only 20 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center and I am an original season ticket holder. There is Wild gear all over my house mingling with autographed memorabilia. Yes, I am a Wild fan, to be sure, although I did wear my Flyers jersey to the first ever Wild home opener (which ended in a 3-3 tie!), and I have enjoyed the opportunity to watch a team built from the ground up and suffer through the trials along the way.
In the end, though, I am a tried and true fan of the game of hockey, and my passions for any particular team does not dictate my work or my opinions. So while I may be presenting the Wild to you, what you will find is that the filter on these eyes is wide open and I have no problems in criticizing or praising with equal measure. Simple rah-rah pieces are not my shtick.
Hopefully you'll come back often and see what I've got to say about the defending Northwest Division Champs (which, honestly, is a big "whatever") and we can banter a bit about the State of Hockey.