Tue Aug 25 09:50am EDT
Our series "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" features puckheads from all walks of life revealing five things that either made them a fan or that keep them watching hockey. It will run every weekday through August. Enjoy.
James Mirtle of SB Nation and the Globe & Mail should be quite familiar to everyone who reads this blog, not only by being a pioneer in the industry but for making me look like a drooling slob with mustard stains on his shredded undershirt whenever we uncork a debate on the issues.
After reading his list of 5 Reasons I Love Hockey, I'm rather enamored with the idea of Lil' Jimmy Mirtle rocking out to grunge while completely owning on NHL 94 for the Sega Genesis ... before constructing a complicated collection of statistic projections and analysis to determine which players to snag off the waiver wire to help his digital franchise.
Here's Mirtle with his Five Reasons He Loves Hockey:
1. Street/pond hockey
Every kid in my neighbourhood growing up had a beat up net like mine, one that went through countless Game 7 wars as we whacked a tennis ball around every spring, summer and fall. Once there was snow on the ground, it was off to the pond for some shinny.
2. Hockey cards
I'm fairly certain my very first obsession with the game started with O-Pee-Chee. I remember first starting school, and all of the older kids had stacks of them and pieces of pink bubblegum. They'd play games (which I can no longer remember the names of) endlessly during recess, winning cards with their heroes on them using a deft flick of the wrist.
(This was before they became collectibles, something that put an end to all of the corner-bending games.)
There are boxes and boxes of these things sitting in my old man's garage.
3. The Kamloops Blazers and junior hockey
Having a dynasty in your backyard made it easy to be a hockey fan as a kid. My hometown of Kamloops, B.C., is a little city nestled in the middle of nowhere, but 25 years ago, its WHL franchise became a powerhouse, winning three Memorial Cups in four years and six league titles in 12 years.
At one point, the year the team moved from its old barn (Memorial Arena) to a new state of the art rink, the team had lost only 47 home games in an eight-year span. It's pretty easy to be a fan when the home team never loses.
4. NHL '94 to '97 (Sega Genesis)
I know everyone swears by the '94 edition of the game, but I've always loved and stuck with '96 and still have it sitting in my living room to this day. I can't imagine how many games I've played on it, but lighting up your buddies while using the god-awful 1994-95 Senators doesn't get old.
5. I'm Canadian
Every family gathering, the world juniors or Hockey Night in Canada was on TV. Many of our out-of-town trips were either to see games in Vancouver or to play in tournaments in nearby cities.
I had jobs at the local rink, took dates to the games, watched them on TV trays at Thanksgiving... and I had plenty of company.