"I am taking break after the Wild series." I told myself this. Many times. It is difficult to write about hockey while doing 100 other things at the same time and keep it interesting. I was exhausted. Literally I was at the point of considering hitting my knee with a ball peen hammer just to check my toughness.
My favorite pre-lockout Avs commercials used to state "the more hockey you watch, the tougher you get". They would feature bits involving a guy slowly pulling out his nose hairs, or getting nailed by a car door as he rolled by on a moped. They were possibly the best spots-related commericals I have ever seen.
You know the kinds of commercials that are actually good and you kind of miss them when they go away. Those were them.
I needed to shape up.
Before the playoffs I had managed to pare down the number of times I wrote to three times a week, and YOU my readers seemed to be falling into step. We had a good rhythm going. Then the playoffs started and the Avalanche came together to beat the Wild in what was the most captivating series of the first round, and I started writing every day.(I still cannot put words to how well Jose Theodore played. Literally, that was the greatest series I've ever seen from a Colorado goaltender. Roy had his moments, but the opposing teams were always afraid of him. In Theo's case, the Wild barely even respected the man!)
I've had a fun playoffs so far. I landed in the Can for two games. The first time I was five rows up with the upper class and the Avs lost. For game six I was pressed up against the top row in corner with the electricians and plumbers. Care to guess which game was more fun for me to attend?
Here's a note: The big mystery of whether or not the upper deck of the Can is up to code was finally solved at game six. Building code states that the tread of a step must be at it's absolute minimum 10-11 inches from the lip of the step to the rise of the next step, with most treads kept at eleven inches.
The treads on the upper deck? 8 inches at best.
Yes Avalanche fans, YOU the paying customer in the upper deck are sitting in an area that violates building code. I'm wondering how much Kroenke had to shell out to the city inspector to get that little oversight passed. Next time I'm bringing a harness and ropes, because one of these days I may end up as "that guy" who falls off the upper deck.
Anyways, I was enjoying the sunny day today after a weekend of playoff hockey success and hiking when I came across this little diddy by Bill Simmons at ESPN.com. Ahhh sweet motivation.
I have ranted before about Bill and his unique ability to crap on hockey, and here we are again. How much you wanna bet the higher-ups at the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" thought that it would be neat if their star writer crapped out a hockey article, considering it is the playoffs and all...
Here's the thing, Simmon's leap onto the Bruins bandwagon was entirely predictable. Even people who don't pay any attention to hockey, i.e. Broncos and Rockies fans, find themselves incapable of ignoring playoff hockey. Simply, it is too irresistible to avoid the greatest tournament in sports.
It isn't like I'm blaming Simmons for jumping back into hockey writing, and assuredly he'll go back to crapping on hockey as soon at the Bruins are eliminated. But what I'm trying to reconcile is my normally acute dislike of bandwagon sports fans in general.
Sure, we all have lives. But really, nothing stinks worse than when your team is doing well and suddenly everyone turns into an expert. It was this notion that drove me to know everything about hockey all the time. I didn't want to be one of "those guys". You know, one of those people who still talk about the Chris Drury trade, even though that was SEVEN YEARS AGO, but couldn't name a single player on the current Avs third line?
In my opinion bandwagoneers eat up tickets and screw over the die hards who are practically owed seats at important sporting events.
The worst instance of bandwagon-like behavior was when the Rockies went to the World Series. I've never seen anything come close. The Rockies stunk for years because of terrible ownership, and might not see the Series again until the Monfort brothers die off. But last October it was like the entire state came together and said "screw it".
I watched. I got excited. I turned down World Series tickets.
Yep. I turned down World Series game tickets. Why? I'm not really a Rockies fan. I felt my ticket should go to someone who managed to watch more than 10 games all season.
Sorry gang, I have respect for the dedicated. And besides, I grew up a Twins fan and never changed my affiliation.
This is why Simmons' article and how he mentions that hockey needs to attract casual fans ultimately rings cheap and lame, even after I consider his point of view.
Hockey is and will always be, a die hard sport. Same as baseball. You can't waltz into a concert during final song and act like you've been a fan of the band the whole time, and the same rings true for hockey.
Sure, Avs tickets are expensive. But as fans we are treated to possibly the greatest two-team television network in sports- Altitude. There is simply no excuse for anyone to start paying attention during the playoffs.
Maybe it is because I live in what is widely considered to be a "bandwagon state". Maybe outside of DU and CC hockey will never rival the popularity of the Broncos. But really, if you are a casual fan with a ticket, do me a favor this playoff season and pass it on to your "hockey friend". He or she will be more appreciative than you could ever know.
Especially during this playoffs, when a team that was left for dead by most of the state in January (hell, lets be realisitic: after the lockout) is finally coming together for a serious run.