Pulling for the Flames Now

I’ve always enjoyed hockey; it’s a game where something is always happening, scoring is a significant event, and the clock keeps ticking even when you wish it wouldn’t. Growing up in the coccyx of the rocky mountains in northern New Mexico, there wasn’t a lot of media coverage of the sport (this was before Colorado had a team), but it was fun to watch when it presented itself.

A brief aside: When I was growing up there was hockey right there in my town, at the local outdoor ice rink. It never even occurred to me that I could participate. I didn’t know anyone who did. I wonder if the hockey environment there has changed in the intervening years.

The first time I formed a loyalty to a team was on my Homeless Tour, when I was passing through Canmore, Canada. The Calgary Flames were in the finals, one win from the Stanley Cup. I got to the bar section of the Boston Pizza just in time to grab the last seat at the bar, behind the taps, and I proceeded to have a Seminal Sports Experience. It started when the whole place went quiet out of respect for the United States national anthem. Then came ‘O Canada’ and the whole damn bar belted it out. Things just got better from there.

The Flames lost, but the fans I met that day were awesome on every level. I became a Calgary fan, but even more I became a fan of Calgary’s fans.

Cut to late nights in the darkness, lying on the Curiously Uncomfortable Couch in my little flat in Prague, listening to radio calls via the Internet. The Flames’ play-by-play announcer was mesmerizing; in my book only the Blackhawks’ announcer was in the same league. Good times.

In the ensuing years I’ve come to be a Sharks fan. It’s the first time I’ve had a local hockey team to root for. I still harbor some loyalty to the Flames, and especially to the fans up there, but the Sharks are my team. So it goes.

I have also grown a hatred for the Los Angeles Kings. Thugs and morons, and if the league is crooked, they are crooked in the new-biggest-market’s favor. Not sure how many season-ending knee-on-knee ‘accidents’ have to happen before someone looks a little closer.

The season is winding down, and the Sharks are out of the playoffs. It’s the end of the third-longest playoff streak in major sports. That makes me sad. The Kings, the current champions, are on the bubble with two games to go. It will either be them or… the Calgary Flames.

Nobody thought the Flames had a chance this year. They’re rebuilding. A lot of kids with talent, but it takes time and experience to make a contender. But here they are, on the brink of making the playoffs. If they get in, Los Angeles doesn’t. It’s that simple.

The Kings have two games left. Tomorrow they play the Flames. Then on Saturday they play the Sharks. Words cannot describe the joy I will feel if the Sharks kill the Kings and put the lads from Calgary into the playoffs.

And this is sports. You love your guys. You hate the filthy bastards who have personally wronged you. You struggle when one of your guys winds up playing with the filthy bastards. But there’s a little more. There are the great fans you meet, people who love their team but aren’t assholes about it. We call those people ‘Flames fans’.

If I were so freakin’ rich that I solved the world’s fresh water problems and had money left over, I’d make an offer for the Flames, just to be part of that thing they have going on up there.


9 thoughts on “Pulling for the Flames Now

  1. Once upon a way back when, I had a conversation with a coworker that included the statement “the nicest thing I can say about him is that his parole officer dresses really well”.

    The nicest thing I can say about the Kings is “they’re not the Flyers”.

  2. Hi Jerry!

    Nice blog! I’ve been using your software to write for a while and I happen to have a job that pays at least so I’d like to purchase a key to disable the “funny at begging not anymore” feature but the HUT looks like abandoned. Would it be a way to get a key code? Did you get rich enough not to care? I could donate to some ONG on your name if so.

    Pd. I agree with you about hockey, I don’t understand why soccer is the big game, most of the time there is nothing going on on the field.

  3. We’re all Ducks Fans down here in SD, which makes us Kings haters. And the new San Diego Gulls hockey team will be a Ducks farm team.

    The Angels and the Ducks are just across the freeway from each other in Anaheim, and have the organizations have a natural affinity for each other. Last year, when Brad worked in the Angels’ Front Office, the day after the Kings eliminated the Ducks, Brad wore his Ducks tie in to work. John Carpino, Angels President, noticed and gave him a high five.

    • Back before there were Ducks, the Kings were on the mighty 690 and I got my first taste of radio hockey. Breathless, fast-paced, and you better know the roster of your team.

      I was, in those days, a Kings fan of sorts. I was angered when Blake’s goal was disallowed because of the curvature of his stick blade. At the time the Padres were being destroyed by ownership, and the Kings were a shining example of the owners committing to goals (somewhat) aligned with the fans’ desires.

      You have no idea how difficult it was for me to admit that I once didn’t hate the Kings. Not sure I’m getting supper tonight.

      To this day, the only professional hockey game I’ve seen live in North America was the San Diego Gulls hosting… some other team. I was there with Squirrely Joe, and had a rompin’ good time. That team is gone now.

      When the Ducks were formed, and the name was announced, I howled along with every self-respecting hockey fan. But it does provide good rhyming opportunities. Now we roast a duck each autumn when the Sharks and the Ducks first play. A game I can really look forward to.

      • So I guess now it’s okay for me to admit that I don’t absolutely totally with every fiber of my being completely hate Vancouver…

  4. A follow-up here, as time passes. The Ducks and the Flames are now pounding it out in round two of the playoffs, and the youth of the Flames is showing. Stupid penalties and missed coverages. But their magic shows too, now and again. I’m not calling a win for them this year, but those kids can skate. Next year I look forward to cursing them as they make the Sharks’ hill all that steeper.

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