I opened this blog with a post waaaaay back in August about my “soft breakup” with the Colorado Avalanche. I swore proudly that I wouldn’t let another season of Epic Fail ruin my hockey fandom like it did in the 2016-17 season. I swore I’d keep watching even as the Avs sputtered down the stretch like they always did, continue to make bad decisions, and sell us a false bill of goods. I wouldn’t abandon ship completely, mind you, but I figured I would not go down with the ship again this time, and maybe even detach myself a bit from my hometown team, the team I’ve rooted for ever since they arrived in Denver more than twenty years go.
But then, something unexpected happened. They were good. Once again I became an invested fan. Almost too invested. I don’t believe I missed more than three games broadcast this year (unfortunately I couldn’t make it in person from my humble Nebraska abode). And so, my original blog post, more or less, became a moot argument.
But then, something happened again. The Avs, suffering from fatigue and multiple injuries, stumbled down the stretch. We all know what eventually happened, in Game 82, the regular season finale, the Avs defeated the St. Louis Blues to get in. Of course, I didn’t know how things would turn out, so I was, to put it mildly, a bit stressed. One night, while watching from the comfort of my basement in late March (the Avs would go on to drop the contest against Philly 2-1) my wife texted from the living room one floor above.
And she was right. I was yelling/screaming at the TV, occasionally pounding the treadmill console (sometimes I try to burn any stress about the game off via exercise…obviously it didn’t work that night) and scaring the living hell out of our two little dogs. I immediately apologized and quieted down.
You see, there is that rabid fan who is something akin to a wild beast, if you could imagine a wild beast in the form of a flabby, middle-aged half-Asian guy with a high-pitched voice and wispy Stanley Cup beard. He is irrational to the extreme and prone to wild fits of anger and irrational behavior, striking nearby inanimate objects and generally making a fool of himself. I have been that fan far too many times. And I’ve prided myself as being more calm than I was in my youth. You see, I always prided myself on the fact that I got to see my two biggest sports heroes, John Elway and Ray Bourque, win championships in my hometown. And both men did it right before time had run out. With those milestones out of the way, I told myself that the stakes were nowhere near as high as they used to be.
But yet, I still catch myself squawking at the television, running around the basement in a frenzy (not nearly as fast since, y’know, I’m old), and pleading with the small figures on the screen to hear me, as if what I have to say will magically reach through the airwaves and will them to victory.
Look, I get it, “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Part of fandom is the irrational joy of it all. There isn’t necessarily supposed to be calm, or logic to it. Certainly not in sports, right? One should let themselves go a little, soak in the crazy just a bit. But there’s also something to be said about getting so worked up that it ceases to be fun. And while I don’t ascribe to any notion that watching your team play a garbage game or losing is always supposed to be considered “fun,” there does come a time when the best thing to do is walk away, count to ten, do anything to rein your baser instincts.
For the most part, I’ve been getting better since that night. Occasionally I still yell at the screen, bounce around, but haven’t struck anything. The dogs still feel uneasy around me, but they’re not hiding in fear any longer.
And look, I even managed to pull myself away from Game 82, the biggest game of the regular season, a game where everything was at stake, so the wife and I could go get ice cream.
While we were fetching ice cream, Sam Girard scored the game’s first goal in the waning seconds of the first period. You’re welcome, Avalanche fans.
One way or another, the Avalanche’s run will be coming to an end soon. I think, maybe, the lesson to learn here is that I shouldn’t become a different type of fan, but I should pull away a little. It’s possible I overcompensated for the lack of hockey in my life last year (I essentially stopped watching the Avalanche once they made their epic collapse in December) by watching far too much. I frequented HF Boards far too often and argued with way too many people (if you’re reading this and you’re a poster on there, sorry). Hockey sort of took over most everything in my life to the point where I had little time for anything else, and that’s just not acceptable.
Next season, I hope to see a majority of games on TV, maybe a couple here and there in person. I’d like to see about watching some local hockey (the Lincoln Stars are offering a pretty sweet deal on ticket packages next year) and maybe writing about that. But more than anything else, there needs to be time for other things, other people, and other activities. Maybe then I will be a more calm, more zen fan who won’t constantly be snarling at the television at grown men I will never meet in real life (it’s probably a good thing I don’t seeing as how I’ve insulted nearly every one of them at some point). That’s not to say I’ll just calmly sit and watch like it’s another episode of The Goldbergs, but at least maybe the wife won’t feel the need to yell downstairs and tell the shrill idiot in Avalanche gear to simmer down.
If nothing else, I hope I have time to write more, including this blog. I have a project in the works for the offseason that, time, talent, and copyright stuff pending, will be fun for fans and non-fans alike.
Until then, #GoAvsGo and all that jazz…