You know what’s not particularly fun? Or easy?
Being a Boston Bruins fan in Mobile, Alabama.
In a year that is shaping up to be historically exciting – a 48 game blitz to the playoffs with one of the most complete teams I’ve ever cheered for – there is nothing I want to do more than watch every single minute of the action.
Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards.
Here are three little anecdotes that should give you a pretty good idea of what it’s like to bleed Black and Gold in a land awash in a Crimson Tide.
It started with a simple conversation.
While downtown for my first Mardi Gras parade of the season (there are literally multiple Mardi Gras parades every day for weeks) I came upon a familiar shape; a beautiful structure. An arena that had all the makings of a hockey house.
I asked a Mobilian in my party what it was used for, hoping that maybe I could at least see some decent amateur hockey…
I was about 10 years too late.
Originally it had housed the Mobile Mysticks, a minor league hockey team that lasted all of seven seasons in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s.
“What’s it used for now,” I asked.
“Mostly gun shows and knife shows.”
And there I had it. Everything I needed to know about the hockey culture in my new home.
My next experience came later that same day. The Bruins were in Toronto to begin another season of utter dominance in that particular match-up, and the game was on NHL Network.
I don’t have cable, but at least I could go to bar and watch it.
I arrived at Baumhauer’s just in time for the start of the second period.
What’s Baumhauer’s, you ask? Well it’s your traditional family sports restaurant, full of big TVs, burgers, wings, and two beer sizes – 10 and 25 ounces. Named after a former Miami Dolphins lineman, Baumhauer’s, ironically, was brimming with patrons who, to my Yankee ears, sounded an awful lot like Boomhauer from King of the Hill.
But I digress.
I sat at the bar and asked the bartender to switch one of the many screens over to the NHL Network. The request was so unusual that the manager actually came out to see who had asked for it.
She couldn’t have been nicer in explaining that she’d never had anyone ask for a hockey game before, and together we found the game. There was nothing bad about the experience at all, but it was another stark reminder (at the end of a week full of stark reminders) that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Or Canada, for that matter, either.
My third and final experience was certainly the best of all, and as I sit here and type I am actually full of hope now that I see the trend this story has revealed to me.
Not only was Wednesday night the first Bruins/Canadians game of the season, not only was the game on NBC Sports (meaning I could find it at a bar), but it was also Wing Wednesday at Hooters.
I’ve never been more serious in my life when I say that it literally doesn’t get any better than that for a hockey fan down here.
I sat myself out of everyone’s way at a back corner table and had a front row seat in front of a decent sized TV for a great third period comeback and another dominant 60 minutes from Tuukka “I’m the reason Stuart Scott coined the expression ‘cool as the other side of the pillow’” Rask.
It was awesome.
But now as we head into a weekend that features a pair of games, I am faced with the prospect of 120 minutes lost. No David Krejci, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic. No Dennis Seidenberg.
No national coverage, about five Mardi Gras parades to ride in, and nothing but weapons to be found at the local ice rink.
That’s the name of the game though. Nobody ever said life in the minor leagues was easy.
And honestly, it could be a lot worse. At least I’m lucky enough to have the internet and cable TV. At least I can circle the next Wednesday night NBC Sports telecast (March 27) and start saving my pennies for 6.99 wings and 7.99 Miller Light pitchers.
And at least I’m not a Montreal Canadians fan.