Throughout the season, several fans will provide insight into their experiences in and love for the game of hockey and the Checkers. This is the first installment.
Hockey fan since:
Favorite NHL team:
New York Rangers
Favorite NHL player of all time:
First hockey game:
Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals, 2003
Favorite part of a Checkers game:
Growing up in New York City, sports were everything.
If you were a Yankees fan, you hated the Mets. If you were a Knicks fan, you hated the Nets. And if you were a Rangers fan, you hated the Islanders. Since every kid loved Michael Jordan, I rooted against the Knicks and Nets, but I loved the Yankees and Rangers. I became a huge hockey fan due to the cold weather and having so many friends play the sport.
I was spoiled as a young sports fan – the Giants won the Super Bowl in 1986 and 1990 and then Michael Jordan and the Bulls won back-to-back-to-back titles from 1991-93. But still, I was longing for that Rangers championship. And opposing teams’ fans loved to remind me of “the drought.” I remember hearing chants of "1940, 1940" for years, making fun of the fact that the Rangers hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1940, and that was about to change.
In 1994, after hearing the chants year in and year out, my hero, Mark Messier, led the Rangers to a Stanley Cup. Mark boldly promised the Rangers would beat the Devils in Game 6 of the conference finals (and he scored a hat trick!) and the Rangers went on to beat the Vancouver Canucks in the finals for their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Watching Game 7 against the Canucks on TV is something I will never forget.
Two years later, I moved to Washington, D.C., and, as luck would have it, the Yankees started winning World Series Championships (beginning with the year I left, 1996!).
In Washington, D.C., I started attending Orioles and Redskins games, for my love of sports, but nothing seemed to compare to those Rangers games. So, I started attending Washington Capitals games. I attended my first game in 2003 and have been hooked on live hockey ever since. This is where I also got to lay my eyes on a young-up and-comer, Alex Ovechkin, almost a decade before comparisons to the hockey greats before him would ever even be whispered.
I then moved to Charlotte, and with its warm weather, thought that I wouldn’t be able to follow hockey anymore. After watching Mark Messier take on Martin Brodeur, and Alex Ovechkin compete against Sidney Crosby, I wanted major league hockey, but Raleigh was too far of a drive for me with work. Then, just a couple of years ago, the Hurricanes’ highest minor league squad, the Albany River Rats, was purchased by Michael Kahn and moved to Charlotte, and from that day forward, I have been hooked!
I now get to watch the future Alex Ovechkins fight for ice-time, while being so close to their dream of the NHL. I get to watch and wonder who will be the next Messier to score against Brodeur in Game 6 to go to the NHL Finals.
Nostalgia fills the room each and every time I enter Time Warner Cable Arena for a hockey game, and when the final buzzer goes, I can’t wait to get back for another game. No matter how young the players are, or what the team’s current record is, I know that the action will be non-stop and the players will be playing to fulfill their dreams.
David Hoffman is the official realtor of the Checkers and can be seen in his home-ice advantage seats at almost every game. For more information on how David can help you, visit www.liveinnorthcarolina.com.