The Fan I Was, The Fan I Am

I suppose you’ve noticed that content on this site has been lacking this season. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a real article. There is a good reason for that.

This article is that reason, both in its point and its conception. You see, I have been writing this article, quite literally, throughout the entire season.

My life as a Los Angeles Kings fan has been an evolution. The question with evolution becomes, does it have an end, or perhaps more clearly stated, a pinnacle?

If there is such a thing as a pinnacle to one’s evolution as a Kings fan, it would quite clearly have occurred on June 11, 2012 when we won the Stanley Cup. At that moment, the adult fan I am, the one who contemplates breakouts and neutral zone play, pressure along the boards and the minutiae of skating strides collided with, as hydrogen atoms igniting a nuclear explosion, the child hockey fan in me, the one who merely gawked with hanging tongue at this wondrous sport of hockey. What you are about to read is the result of my nearly year long sifting through the shattered debris.

As you will learn, I’m still sifting.

Since the moment Dustin Brown hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head, I have no longer been the Los Angeles Kings fan that I had always been – misbegotten, downtrodden, ever hopeful and pridefully self-pitying. I spent nearly 25 years, far fewer than many, striving towards an ideal that only existed in the kind of fevered dreams that compel people to confess to men of cloth, or in my Jewish case, whoever will listen in line at the Shabbat buffet. That Kings fan, the one who felt compelled to start a blog to satisfy the desire to talk about the Kings nonstop when not enough people at work listened or cared, the one you’ve come to know over these past few years on this site, that Kings fan, was executed.

I knew it the moment it happened. For all the indescribable joy that coursed through me on June 16, 2012, as I smiled, screamed, sobbed and locked away in memory the sights and sounds of the Kings parading over the same ice on which I had seen them falter so often, now erect and triumphant with a beacon of silver success gleaming above them, I was and have been plagued by another counter-intuitive emotion which I can’t rightly compartmentalize. It dances between despair and apathy, cascades down halls of antipathy and indignantly stares its fulfillment head on with supplication.

What once I cherished so much and spent so much time dreaming would one day happen has happened. And now that the immaterial has become reality, I am satiated in such a way that disregards previous desires for the reconciliation of dreams barely dared dreamt.

I spent last summer without really knowing what the hell was going on. The draft came and went without barely a glance. Free Agency news that filled my news feed phased me no more than status updates of what my friend’s ate for breakfast. I didn’t fully begin to recognize what this new hockey fan I had become was until the 2013 lockout became official and opening night was delayed.

What once was assured to be a catalyst of outrage was instead a respite. Peacefulness gave way to disinterest. The months went by and I missed hockey, but I didn’t need to miss it. Finally the season began and what I thought was the appropriate level of excitement came flooding back to me. I still went to every game I could make. I still cheered until my throat, and sometimes my back (seriously, what the fuck is that about) cried out in pain, or in the case of my throat, hoarsely groaned.

But I could not help but appreciate that I was watching the games differently. While I was more than the gawking child, I was less than the voracious cataloguer. I was somewhere in-between, somewhere more balanced.

And so I have spent this Kings season in the fog of unknown territory. Comparing every moment to those I remember from the sweetest sixteen wins can offer. At once each goal the Kings score is as exciting as it ever was, but less than what I know they can be. Simultaneously each goal they allow and each game they lose is a disappointment only up to the point where the reflex of memorialized elation intercedes and tempers emotions that used to sour hours and days of my life. Whether I feel less towards each game from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer as a matter of apathy, contentment or blissful bewilderment is a mystery. Put succinctly, whether I have a good or a bad day is no longer tied to the outcome of the previous day’s game.

With this in mind, how could things such as line changes, call ups, what is or is not said in scrums or pressers hold nearly as much interest as they once did? What had been the material on which this blog and myself thrived in basing its content has become trivial.

So does this mean I enjoy the game less? Has my affection for the Kings diminished? Absolutely not. In much the same way passionate love and the making of it becomes more meditative and fulfilling with experience, so do the experience a Cup win has brought me a sounder appreciation of the game. While this comes with the caveat of knowing anticipation will never be relished as it was the first go around, it excuses the refinement of comfort.

My enjoyment is at once more focused and more innocent. In this way, as a Kings fan, I have come full circle. From that child who attended the Great Western Forum each time with marked fascination, to the teenager who tracked stats and the development of prospects, to the omnivore adult, consuming all the sport had to offer, caught helplessly in the thralls of the thrills, here I remain, that innocent child again, happy and content to merely smile in wonderment and glee at the sport I love.

You always hear old fucks say “If only I could be young again knowing what I know now.” Well that is exactly what I am. Refreshed anew as a Kings fan with the retainer of all the years have taught me.

I must apologize for the adverse affect that this has had on Surly & Scribe’s LA Kings News. Endless bantering and picking apart minutiae is anathema to the more relaxed osmosis by which I now am a fan.

But that is about to change once more. Evolution never rests and a new phase begins, one that will elicit another adage old fucks like to spout, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We enter now what was not the previous four months; the playoffs.

All I have just said, all that has rung truest in my addled mind, becomes null at 5pm on Tuesday. The quest begins again and the uncertainty and exhilaration of the playoffs, unencumbered by the triviality of points and of tie-breakers and trades and cap space and draft picks takes hold of us in its asphyxiating grip. We shall not be released until we lift Lord Stanley’s Cup once more, or sink a white, wooden tee into fresh grass and swing onto the first fairway of summer.

With ambivalent awe I have enjoyed the first season the Los Angeles Kings played as reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Now, with renewed fervor and salivation I idle in anticipation of the chance to regain the honor. The fan I once was is wilting in the grass. The fan I intend to be is drifting through the wind.

It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I brace to defend myself as the fan that I am.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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32 replies

  1. Surly, you are not in Kansas anymore, because, as we all know, there is no evolution in Kansas…..or I believe, Tennessee!

  2. That was an amazing article! I have to say that my own experience was much like yours.

  3. I kind of feel the same way. NOW that the playoffs are here, the real fun begins!
    BTW, it was June, 11 2012. ;)

  4. Well said. Really. However, the use of the word evolution is killing me. One may say “semantics”, but it hurts. Pet peeve. Sorry, and just cause I’m on the subject, castrate anyone who uses the word theory when they mean hypothesis. Sorry for the rant.

    You did quite move me.
    Matty g

  5. Surely..Eloquent!
    You speak as a True King Fan..I can relate.
    (Although a bad game still brings out the disquiet in me)
    GO KINGS GO!!!
    WWTC!!!

  6. I think it is just gaining perspective, especially since we won as an 8 seed. We know that the offseason and regular season serves a single purpose, and that is to get into the playoffs and the team in the best position to win 16 games. It is not apathy it is raised expectations. Last year, the Kings won the Cup and we all got laid! Now jacking off is not enough.

    Also, baldhedher, as a product of the Tennessee public school system I must correct you that Tennessee does teach evolution. However, as you can see from the link below it is destroying our country.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/17/tennessee-pastor-mass-shootings-because-schools-teach-evolution-and-how-to-be-a-homo/

  7. Well typed.

    GO KINGS GO!!!

  8. A very well thought out piece on your evolution as a fan. There is something a little sad about never being the fans we once were now that we have achieved the ultimate prize. The world has shifted and there is no going back. I find myself wondering what will be my reaction if we repeat? How will I feel if there is an early exit from the playoffs? I wonder how much the abbreviated season has lessened the impact and glory of being defending Stanley Cup Champions. How would we all feel if our beloved Kings became a Laker like team that was always expected to win or at least go deep into the playoffs (current season an exception). We all evolve, as people, as fans, and in your case as a writer. You managed to write clearly, and emotionally without the constant gratuitous references to male genitalia, every curse word and crude thought that you could conjure substituting for actual content.(although your references to “old fucks” in this article seems a little lame and unnecessary).
    I will look forward to your reflections on the playoffs and hope you find it in your heart to come up with a prayer or limerick from time to time.

  9. Exactly. There is a level of contentment that has changed the sport forever now that we’ve actually fucking won the thing. It just changes it. I can’t wait for the next one!

  10. I think we all felt, to some degree, what you describe, Surly. I know what you describe rings true for me, certainly, and I think you have described it very eloquently. I think it does just give us perspective. It hardens us as fans, and at the same time we lose a little interest. That which is small, gets smaller, because we have seen how insignificant it can be when you stand atop the mountain. But lack of attention to the minuscule does not make us better or worse fans, just different. Different because the truly big gets bigger, because we sat atop the mountain, and now there is a real height from which we can fall.

    I have felt this feeling, probably since the second goal of the 5-minute major in game 6, when you knew that the Devils’ spirit was broken. Everything went surreal, and even when reality returned, it was a different reality. Lots of people I know screamed, jumped up and down, raised all hell when that buzzer sounded. If I had been there in the stands with all of the fans, I might have too, but I would have just been acting in the moment, reacting to those around me, I would have been there physically but not mentally. Instead, I snuck out of work early and rushed home just to be able to catch the game at all, and I had no one to share it with. And in that moment, I did not scream, I did not jump. from that second goal until about half way through the players exchanging the cup, I don’t think I moved. I don’t think I made a sound. I was dumbfounded. Awestruck. Awefounded and dumbstruck. For some time I felt less of a fan, that I didn’t react like most, screaming and jumping, but slowly I have come to realize that the opposite is true. My reaction was that of the purest fan – it shook me to the core and changed my reality, so much so that I forgot to do any of those superficial things.

    As a fan I feel both empowered and frightened by this new reality, like gambling with gold when before we only ever played with monopoly money. But at the same time, I feel I can face this new world, with a pride that we achieved the greatest height. If never again, then at least once, and that can never be taken away. In other words, it steels my resolve that I am proud to be a Kings fan, and know that it could be worse. For fans of those teams that haven’t been, or came and went and never did, I feel a little less rivalry, and a little more pity, as I look back on the days when I suffered like they do, wondering if the day will ever come, agonizing over every event that might make or break the arrival of that glorious day. I could be a Sharks fan, frustrated that the window is closing on years of dominance, and nothing to show for it. Or a Coyotes fan, wondering if I’m even going to have a team next year, or a Blues fan, who we have left behind to suffer as the oldest team to never win a cup. On second thought, nevermind. They’re going to try and take our cup away. Fuck ‘em.

    • What a Wonderful comment.
      I watched and Celebrated at The Mixology Room..closest I could get without being inside Staples.
      In Awe…an indescribable.. I do not have the words to express the feelings that enveloped me..and I knew..as we all did that this was it..The Kings were going to Win the Cup..Being female I had tears falling down my face intermitedly for a couple of hours.
      For anyone who truly Loves a Sport..and a Team..and all involved with it, the feelings I had and that Memory will forever be one of the Highlights of my life. When life tries to be cruel, I just go within and find that memory and a sense of contentment washes over me. How blessed I have been.
      GO KINGS GO!!!
      WWTC!!!

    • Thanks for sharing Bill. While I’m sorry you had to celebrate alone, what a cool experience. I had a similar one during the Cup rally. Even though I was in the arena with a zillion fans, I wasn’t around anyone I knew and I sat there by myself and the whole thing just washed over in a way that I could barely handle.

  11. Thats an interesting article and I definately understand what you went through.

    When my college baseball team won our conference, even though I had a successful freshman year that had a decent amount of innings, I just didn’t have the motivation to keep playing and I quit.
    I just didn’t feel the same passion to go out after we acheived what we had acheived.

  12. Just got a thumbs up from me Surly….. and I only read the first two paragraphs :-)
    But it was good enough to merit the thumbs up. I’ll read it later tonight when I have time. Anyway, good on ya. The soul that is truly ‘Surly’ is peeking thru.

  13. Damn surly, you know how to get us fired up for the playoffs.

    The Kings should have you in the locker room between periods for pep talks and rally cries!

    GO KINGS GO!!!

  14. Nice article dude, to quote Paulie from the Rocky movie franchise. “If I could unzip my skin and climb out and be in someone else’s body it would be you dude!”
    I love you man!
    By the way I’m also coming out today, I’m an idiot, a male lesbian and a lifelong Kings fan!
    Go Kings for 16!!

  15. You’re an excellent writer Surly, the day you retire from blogging will be a huge bummer

  16. Welcome back brother!!!!!

  17. I feel similarly. At first , I felt as if I got what I’ve wanted for so long now. So I’m good you know? Can’t be harmed by my own fanhood anymore. That I’m pretty certain wont be the case if we don’t repeat last years feat. The importance of the upcoming games is sure to be felt win or lose. It’s different being the champs. My expectations were higher all year, but even in the first 15 games when I was like WTF? I could soothe myself by saying hangover……. champions……. etc… I need another cup though. The haters are ready to say fluke. Fuck the haters. WWTC!!!! Go Kings!!!!

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