Today you are supposed to be packing for a weekend in Vegas. You are supposed to be hopping on the party bus, or jumping in the car, or standing in the security line at LAX. You are supposed to be excited for Frozen Fury.
Instead, you’re pissed. It’s just another Friday, just another weekend.
You may still be going to Vegas. I’m sure many Kings fans will be there as months ago hotels and flights had been booked, dinner reservations had been made, copious amounts of Alka-Seltzer and Emergen-C purchased and stashed away. Either unwilling or unable to cancel your plans, those who will be in Vegas tomorrow should still start random “GO KINGS GO!” chants in the casino and I personally implore you, if you see someone who even remotely appears that they might be visiting from Colorado, kindly remind them that they, as Avs fans, suck.
The NHL also sucks right now. This lockout sucks. But winning the Stanley Cup did not suck, nor did all the excitement leading up to it. So as today was supposed to mark an event of anticipation and the first elephant-sized dose of excitement leading up to another hockey season, I’m going to give you now a look into past excitement.
The following article was written the day before game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in New Jersey. While I was soaring high over the continent, en route to the smokestack capital, I whipped up this article but somehow it got frozen within my iPad before I could post it. I spent a good portion of my first night in Manhattan trying to get this article to publish, or at least viewable so that I may copy it and share it. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be at the time and it was lost. Or so I thought.
Recently when I upgraded my various iPhalanges to iOS6, the WordPress app recovered the article. Now, on the eve of what should-be Frozen Fury, and article that should have been, will now finally be. Keep in mind that just because it is several months old, doesn’t mean I ever bothered to proof read. Why start now?
Past Meets Present As Our Future Is Now
Here I am, luxuriating in business class on my way to JFK airport courtesy of a very generous donation of miles for the upgrade. Kicked back, relaxed, 4 hours and 30 minutes away from New York, 36 hours away from the puck dropping for game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I was hoping to post this from the plane, since we live in the future where wifi is available at 37,000 feet, but it turns out 5 hours of the future costs almost what I pay per month for the recent past, so I think I can live without global interconnectivity for one trip across the country. So while I write this up here with the birds and the superheroes, by the time you read it I’ll be enjoying a beer in Manhattan.
I’ve never been to a Stanley Cup Finals game. I was invited to go to New Jersey for game 7 of the 2003 Cup Finals where the Devils beat the Ducks. Barely 18 and only able to afford attending 8 or 9 Kings game per year, I had little interest in spending every last penny I had, along with borrowing several more, in order to watch one team I hate play another team I don’t care about. I also knew that it wasn’t my time, my time would come.
It’s been 8 years since I’ve been to the East Coast. Before that I had gone once a year at minimum. There isn’t a member of my bloodline that was born in the West before me, so New York, where my parents were from and New Jersey, where I still have family, we’re a second home to me. As I pass over mountainous desert terrain probably somewhere above the Mojave, anticipation broods on several levels.
A homecoming of sorts on one hand and a journey into unknown territory on the other. Two things I have been wanting to do for years, the opportunity of a lifetime allowing the excuse to replenish the memories of youth.
Am I merely bragging about making this insane jetsetting trip, over 3000 miles for a single hockey game? That likely has something to do with it, but as is the case with most of my articles here, I am wrought with emotion and this site is the closest thing I have to a diary.
I find myself wondering what the players are experiencing. We get quotes expressing tempered excitement, delayed gratification and shades of satisfaction. They can jabber at reporters endlessly but we will get a much truer sense of their personal journeys when we see their faces hit the ice tomorrow. When you do something almost every day, but work your whole life to do it in a certain way at a certain time, do you still get nervous? Does Dustin Brown have butterflies? Is Willie Mitchell the least bit nauseous? Can Jonathan Quick sit still? I’m as excited for the game tomorrow as I’ve ever been for well, anything, but I admit, I’m a little sick about it.
There are moments where this is all too much. Can my feeble heart handle this? Having invested so much time, energy and emotion into this team over my life, I feel a little bit like the anxious bride at the altar who might just want to run away. When I said yes I couldn’t have been happier, but now that the plunge is about to be taken, there’s a measure of freaking out I can’t totally shake. Or am I the family member in the audience who can’t contain himself? Or would I be the pigeon watching for, the rafters, hungry but leery of choking the rice? I’m so twisted up with all sorts of feelings I can’t even figure out my own inane metaphors. Such is the nature of doing something brand new that you’ve always dreamt of doing.
What about those that have been down this road before. Once your virginity is gone, making love can still get you all worked up, but it will never quite be the same and losing it isn’t a fabulous experience for everyone. Familiarity can mean a deeper ability to relish an experience, or it can mean the added need to cope with a learned terror. Is Rob Scuderi feeling suave and debonaire? Is Jarrett Stoll dwelling on all the things that went wrong the first time? Is Dustin Penner feeling a bit greedy? Like I said, New York has always felt like a second home to me, but returning is a mix of memories and yearning that leaves me expecting but also, at times, overwhelmed. So it goes when you are set to relive part of your past in your present.
I might ask if I’m thinking too much, but that’s a rhetorical question.
Who will sleep soundly tonight? Whether professional or fan, if the Kings or the Devils are an integral part of your life, rest will not come easily, though the dreams will be relentless.
Tomorrow reality kicks in, thought stops and the high gear of action is engaged.
I hope you hear a “Go Kings Go” chant on TV. I hope your start one in your living room. I hope LA Live is swarmed as if the Kings were playing inside Staples. I hope that tomorrow is the first day of a new era for this franchise.
For all the past experiences we’ve lived, and for all the fantasies we’ve shared, let’s enjoy this.