Welcome to the refreshed Defending Big D! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
I’ve never been big into sports in general. I tried a variety of things as a child but was more likely to turn cartwheels on the soccer field than keep my eye on the ball. I’ve been a casual fan of the San Antonio Spurs (sorry not sorry, Dallas Mavericks fans) since moving to San Antonio in 1997, but that mostly has meant paying attention to how far they’ve gone in the playoffs rather than keeping track of their regular season.
I tell you these things so you’ll know how strange this love affair with hockey has been. Like, I’d heard of Wayne Gretzky growing up. I’d seen The Mighty Ducks (1, 2, and 3) like every other kid in the 90s. But I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have named a single hockey team prior to 2010 (other than the Ducks, and it took me YEARS to understand that that wasn’t just a movie, there was actually a hockey team as well).
This story starts with my best friend, who grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan where it snows and I’m reliably informed a lot of hockey is played. She was a casual fan of hockey the way I’d always been a casual fan of basketball, but then the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and everything was nuts up there for a while and she remembered she really liked hockey. We talk on the phone every single day so I ended up hearing a lot about it. Still, it took two years (and a lockout) to wear me down.
I really started getting into hockey in the offseason of 2012 and, to be perfectly honest, it was stories about the players that drew me in more than the game. The summer of 2012 was the summer after that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trade that prompted Mike Richards to tweet:
Reunited and it feels so good...... Excited to be back playing with carts #needaroommate— Michael Richards (@MRichie_10) February 24, 2012
Like are you kidding me? I wanted to know more. I’ve always been more invested in people than in rules or games, and I really wanted to know the backstory that led to this tweet. And finding that out led me down the rabbit hole. (The funny part of this story is that after I learned more about the trade, I was less infatuated with their friendship, and Jeff Carter in general.) I watched game highlights, fan videos, player interviews, basically any hockey content I could find on youtube. I read a lot of articles, interviews, game recaps. And I had all the time in the world to research everything because we all know what happened in the fall of 2012.
By November of that year, I’d latched on to the Edmonton Oilers because of their kid line. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle had (maybe still have) a friendship for the ages and, because of their contracts, were playing in the AHL that fall. I convinced a couple of tangentially ice sport-related friends to attend a game in San Antonio with me when the Oklahoma City Barons played the San Antonio Rampage.
Now, obviously I didn’t stay an Oilers fan or I wouldn’t be here. I realized pretty quickly in the lockout shortened season that being an Oilers fan was probably the least amount of fun I could have in this sport. In the summer of 2013, when Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas, I started paying more attention to my home-state team, and came up for several games during the 2013-14 season. In November of that year, when the Edmonton Oilers were in town, I splurged on seats right behind the Oilers bench so I could be as close as possible to Sam Gagner. During intermission, while wearing my Oilers jersey, I walked into the Hangar and purchased a Jamie Benn jersey with roughly zero shame. Trading Sam Gagner in the off season was the final nail on the coffin that held my Oilers fan feelings and I washed my hands of them entirely.
So that’s why I’m here. Five seasons a hockey fan, four seasons a Dallas Stars fan. I started a blog with my friend Carolyn Wilke, and we still do a podcast even though both of us have moved on from the blog. I came on to Defending Big D when Josh Lile invited me to give recapping a game a try.
It’s been a fun five years as a hockey fan, even when it’s kind of heartbreaking. I’ve met some truly incredible people through this sport, had some really incredible fan experiences. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.
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