Throughout the summer, future first ballot Hall of Fame blogger, Greg Wyshynski (AKA Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports) has been reminding his readers why hockey is a world-class sport through his series called “Five Reasons Why I Love Hockey.” It is a great series and a recommended read.
During an offseason when the news of the day is Matt D’Agostini signing a two-way contract, Puck Daddy is truly helping hockey fans everywhere endure the dog days of summer.
He has covered everyone from The Zambonis to Paul Kukla. I realize my place at the bottom of the totem pole in the blogosphere and am not expecting an e-mail from Puck Daddy requesting five reasons why I love hockey. Therefore, I will take the initiative and present Why I Love Hockey:
5. Fantasy Hockey
I hate to admit it, but the main reason why I got into hockey was through fantasy pools.
I was not a hockey fan at all before the lockout in 2005, but when hockey started to get going again, my friends and I decided to get a pool going. I was already seasoned veteran in baseball and basketball pools, so applying knowledge to hockey was not too far-fetched.
Fantasy sports has become a million-dollar business and the NHL is right in the thick of it. It keeps hockey fans on their toes and keeps recreational fans interested. It is a great way for any sport to build interest in its game—something the NHL is gradually doing.
At any bar in my hometown (Ajax, ON), Hockey Night in Canada is surely to be on every television. The bar is packed with Leaf fans, but if Daniel Alfredsson scores a goal, there will be whispers of celebration because Alfie happens to be on someone’s fantasy team.
Darryl Dobber of DobberHockey.com, who is from neighboring Pickering, has really helped feed my hunger for fantasy hockey.
I have been a follower of Dobbs since 2006 and a member of his site since 2007. I was there from his humble beginnings and it has been refreshing to see him and his site grow through the years.
The most successful part of Dobber Hockey has been his forums, which are the most active on the Internet, even throughout the summer.
I love it when one of my acquaintances (usually an American or a futbol enthusiast) bashes hockey.
I love defending the sport. No other sport can provide you amazing skill, speed, goals, and occasional fights.
By the end of the argument, I usually have them understanding why so many people are passionate about hockey and that it is pointless to bash other sports.
Everyone has their own tastes, which is why there are so many sports and so many sports fans. A true sports fan has his own group of main sports, and while he will not follow fringe sports, he has an appreciation for the talent that those athletes possess and understands why fans are drawn to that particular sport.
My first exposure to hockey was in 1993 when I saw The Mighty Ducks.
After I saw the movie, I immediately went in the basement, dug up a hockey stick (one came with the purchase of every Canadian household), and started triple deking in between two chairs.
The closest I ever came to organized ice hockey was during winters when my friends and I shoveled the snow off a pond and played shinny.
Bumpy ice, mini nets, amateur hockey players, and snow-buried beers was and still is the name of the game.
Attempting to dangle and fail at doing it makes you appreciate the skill that even the most regular NHL players have.
Being out on the ice is one of the things I look forward to in the winter. Gliding on the ice with friends and having a laugh, then going out and watching Hockey Night in Canada—that is what I call a Canadian Christmas.
One of the most important parts of hockey’s resurgence has been its bloggers.
Bloggers are fans equipped with talented creative writing skills—a deadly combination.
Bloggers provide information or analysis when widespread major publications come up short.
Blogs are an uncensored and oftentimes hilarious commentary on te major topics of the sport. However, behind the satirical style of some bloggers, there lies very real issues that the blogger is trying to address. This is the genius of blogging. While they are trying to entertain the reader, they are also trying to educate them on certain issues.
The most important thing that bloggers have done for the NHL is that they have exploited the Internet and given the league much more exposure.
The Internet has become the quickest way to relay information from one point of the world to another. Bloggers have taken advantage of the speed and efficiency of the Internet to inform hockey fans and invite them into the world of hockey players.
Some of the most newsworthy topics coming out of the NHL have been exposed by bloggers. Whether it be Alex Semin’s opinion on Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin’s birthday party pictures, none of this would be exposed without bloggers.
From Puck Daddy to Eklund, all bloggers are fulfilling the same role and have one main target in mind—continue to market the game of hockey.
1. World Junior Championships
I love watching amateur sports, especially when the athletes are competing at the highest level. The World Junior Championship embodies exactly that.
The beauty about amateur tournaments is that the athletes are uncompensated, looking to get exposure through exceptional effort, and simply playing for a championship. These three traits combine to create a passionate competition.
This passionate play brings about some of the best hockey moments in my memory bank—from Dion Phaneuf’s “Double Dion” hit against Ovechkin and the Russians in North Dakota to Jonathan Toews' three shootout goals against Peter Mueller and Erik Johnson in the semi-finals.
The World Junior Championship is Canada’s March Madness. I still believe that March Madness is the greatest sports event in the world, but nothing compares to being Canadian and watching the WJC on Boxing Day morning.
It has become a great tradition and the No. 1 reason why I love hockey.