This story starts in March 2004, with a very bored Aaron (me) playing a mega drive emulator. I start to scour the list of games that I had when I came across NHL '96.
I'll be honest, I'd never even seen a game of ice hockey played before, but I had a hankering for a sports game. I have to say, in the first twenty minutes of play I was constantly confused and utterly stuck with the rules. What's interference, SH, PP, PK, two-line pass, etc. The rules were 100 percent new to me. The only thing I thought I would understand was the offside (Oh, by the way, I'm English) because of the offside rule of football (soccer).
Luckily, within an hour of playing I understood quite a lot, or what I thought was a lot at the time, of the rules. I still had no idea why when a player got sent off he would return two minutes later.
This isn't to mention the game-play, how was I supposed to play a game that was so different to anything I'd played before? But, alas, I picked it up and I have to say I honestly didn't think it was the most special game I'd ever seen. I thought little else of it for the rest of that day, but as luck would have it I was having sleeping trouble so I sat trawling through the TV channels at 3am when I came across Channel Five sport, NHL coverage. Wow, thought I, now I'll get an opportunity to see the actual game in all its real life glory.
I can't remember the two teams that played, but I know it was a relatively important game (due to it being at the end of the season/start of playoffs) and the action was intense. I instantly became glued to this sport that was so fluent, fast paced, and downright brutal. I'd never seen anything like it and I watched the whole game, including the overtime that ensued. The goals, the misses, the cat-like reflexes of the goaltenders, it just enthralled me.
The next day, I went back with a renewed sense of urgency to truly discover this game. And, this is where it all began for me. I instantly chose the Red Wings as my team the day before because they were the better rated team.
Today was different and something, some strange guiding force pulled me to the Flyers. Without realizing where Philadelphia was, nor where its neighboring cities lie, I for the same reason had the strong urge to choose either New Jersey Devils or Pittsburgh Penguins as my opponents. Before I knew it, I was in pure loathing of the Penguins, for an undetermined reason.
Are you still with me?
I hope that I get some readers from this article, and more importantly I hope I also get some readers that are not Philadelphia born so they can hopefully give some reason or understanding as to why I was drawn to the Philadelphia Flyers.
I will not speak of the disappointment that followed this year's playoff exit. I won't say that the Pens got considerably more calls in their favor, because I honestly don't believe it. I believe to it be down to poor shots and bad plays. There's no dishonor in admitting you were outplayed, even if it is by the team that made you despise gold, white and black.