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Feb. 15th, 2012 | 09:13 pm
location: home

Here's something kind of long and about hockey and closure. I apologize for my poor writing skills.

I was an Atlanta Thrashers fan. And while Atlanta was poked fun at as a market and a fan base, I was pretty damn lucky as a hockey fan. I was able to be a season ticket holder, with damn good seats. I've been to more NHL games than most hockey fans will ever go to. I was there for the entire last season here in Atlanta. So of course I was crushed when the team moved...but I've told this story a thousand times. This is really more about how I moved on.

Some of my friends have told me it's hard to identify with what I was feeling because they weren't really sports fans themselves. All I can say is that it meant a lot to me. It was a passion that it's hard to describe, but when I watched that team play it drew more emotion out of me than anything has in a very long time. After they were gone I had a really big hole in my life. I still loved hockey, so of course the thing to do is find another team to root for. Some suggested rooting for Winnipeg, where the Thrashers were relocated to. I have absolutely nothing against Jets fans at all. I'm really happy they have a team they can root for again, because they deserve it, but I just can't root for the Jets.

It didn't really take me long to get it down to a few teams. I know I wanted to stay eastern conference, and I didn't want to pick a powerhouse team because bandwagon fans have always annoyed me. I ruled out the southeast division after a bit of mulling. It would be too weird to root for a team that I had been trash talking for so long, even though they're all pretty good organizations. So it really boiled down to who my friends were rooting for, and most of my hockey friends are in the northeast.

I have an awesome friend in New York that works in and runs a shop for a living. Pretty much what I did for about 10 years. He's a fan of the New York Islanders, and loves them as much as I loved the Thrashers. The Islanders are a lot like what the Thrashers were. They have a loyal but under-appreciated fan base, they seem to have a ton of talent but need better guidance, they need a goalie that can stay healthy, and they just need to start winning games damnit. So I decided I was gonna root for the Islanders!

So Puc got me NHL Gamecenter as an early birthday present when the Season started so I could catch all the games. At the same time I decided to start going to Gladiators games, our local ECHL team, to see some live hockey. Tons of fun, but it just wasn't the same. So I spent most evenings watching Islanders games...and pretty much every other game that was on. Gamecenter was a good idea. So all of this season I've been watching everything from the hot start, to the slumps, to goalie musical chairs, all the way to needing just 6 points to make the playoffs toward the end of the season. It's been just like watching the Thrashers.

One of my goals is to attend an Islanders game in 2012. To go to an NHL game again.

So, my good friend in New York, DragonFireNY, sent me something in the mail. I went out to the mailbox and had a package from the New York Islanders. He sent me a jersey, complete with name and my number. Not only is it an incredibly nice and awesome gift, but it's something more than that for me. It's something from a hardcore fan...an official 'welcome to our fandom'. It made hockey very real for me again, and even though I might be too far away to just walk to the Arena like I used to here in Atlanta, I feel like I'm a part of that group again. I'm an Islanders fan.

So, Dragonfire, thank you so much for the jersey! But thank you even more for really making me feel like a hockey fan again. It may seem silly to most folks, but the sports fans reading this may understand.

Lets go Islanders!

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