25 September 2014

Are You Ready For Some Hockey??

Domestic violence.  Racist owners.  *Derek Jeter's farewell tour.  In what has seemingly been an endless summer of controversies and off-the-field distractions embroiling most of the professional sports leagues in North America, we hockey fans should consider ourselves lucky to have the shortest offseason of each of them (well, unless you count NASCAR).  But to me, it seems like this has been the LONGEST summer break the NHL has endured - it feels like forever since the Kings won the Stanley Cup in dramatic fashion, yet it was only just over three months ago.  14 weeks, in fact.  But now…it's time for hockey...

(Hank Hanna / The Business of Losing Weight)
But how can you tell?  The kids are heading back to school.  The weather is starting to change (okay, maybe not here in Los Angeles, but you get my drift).  And yes, we're starting to see the first few signs that hockey is returning.  Here in southern California, it started even sooner, as the Stanley Cup has been making its way around the city all summer, courtesy of the Kings victory tour.

18 September 2014

Hockey Road Trip: The Mysteries of Silicon Valley

It amazes me to think that I lived in Los Angeles for nearly a decade before I ever traveled up the coast to see northern California - and when I did, to attend a friend's bachelor party, I only stayed one night and flew back home the next day.  After continually putting off plans to finally go back to the Bay Area, I decided that my "quest" to see all of the NHL arenas would be a good excuse to visit San Jose for a weekend.

Interestingly enough, this trip only came about because I had another plan in place to go to Alberta at the end of January, but when that fell through, I saw that the Sharks would also be playing at home that weekend and seized the opportunity.  It wasn't until after we bought the tickets and booked the hotel room that I realized our game was on the same day as the Kings-Ducks outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.  Not that I had necessarily planned on attending that game, but I guess it would have been nice to have had that option.  (NOTE: The NHL has announced that the Sharks will be hosting the Kings for an outdoor game this season, which seems like a great chance for me to finally see some hockey under the California stars)

12 September 2014

Developing a Hockey Fan: Part 3

1991-1993: The Enduring Legacy of Park Place Productions

In Part 1 of this series, I described how hockey played virtually no role in my childhood in Illinois, which was followed by Part 2, where I detailed how a few significant events that occurred during my adolescence in Hawaii began to shape my impending love of the sport.  As I progressed through my high school years on the island, I found that my "sports priorities" began to change.  For starters, I chose to stop playing Little League baseball once I finished junior high, which is also when I experienced the growth spurt that sprang me up to a towering 6'5", leading me to a somewhat obvious decision to start playing basketball.  Though I'd become a bonafide "sports fan", hockey was little more than a fun video game or occasional TV program (if I remembered when to change the channel).

By the fall of 1991, I was your typical teenager who spent countless hours at the local shopping mall and played a LOT of video games.  We'd moved on from the NES to the Sega Genesis, and our sports fix came from the fine people at EA Sports - the soon-to-be titans had just released the first entry in their innovative and wildly popular John Madden Football games for the Genesis, with the initial game being developed by a small software company known as Park Place Productions (who would go on to become the largest independent video game developer in North America).  Following the success of the Madden game, Park Place and EA Sports teamed up to add a new sport to their gaming repertoire, releasing NHL HOCKEY.  Just another video game, perhaps, but I can safely say that it was the most important moment in my becoming the enormous hockey fan that I am today.

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