December 20, 2009
(Ed. Note: 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 weekend. Have a suggestion for a "5 Reasons" guest blogger? Hit us on email. Enjoy!)
Talk about dedication to the team: Paul McCann is the PA announcer for the Nashville Predators, as well as a blogger on HockeyBuzz and the co-owner/co-host of HockeyBuzz Radio, a great hockey talk show heard on SportsRadio 560 in Nashville.
McCann's a die-hard hockey fan in an "non-traditional" hockey market, so we wanted to find out more about the man behind the mic. Here are Five Reasons Paul McCann Loves Hockey:
As a small boy, the first thing about this great sport that grabbed me was the passion of the game, he passion of the players, players who show that they just don't seem to have the capacity to play at half speed, be it pre-season, regular season, or playoffs. The passion of the fans that find a way to be there, supporting the boys, letting anyone know who they root for with a full-throated fury. The passion of the professionals in the broadcast booth and the front office who are constantly sharing their love for a game that not everyone understands.
2. Broad Street Bullies
Growing up in Philly, my first memories of the game was listening to Philadelphia Flyers games on my small clock radio, listening to the voice of Gene Hart teaching me (and the rest of the Delaware Valley) the game, gently and with great enthusiasm. I can never hear a goal call without thinking of Hart's "Clarke scooooores for a case of Tastykake!!!"
I watched an expansion team grow from doormat to Stanley Cup Champion, watching players with grit and toughness, players that took no grief from anyone on the ice and sometimes off. Going to games at the Spectrum, and especially, cutting school to hop the Hi-Speed Line to Philly for the second cup parade, watching a team bring victory to a city that was starved for a champion.
Hockey is a family where character counts. A family where families are important, where your background can really show if you will be successful playing a game that values team work over all else. I have had many conversations with scouts and coaches at all levels and when talking about a prospect, their family always comes up. How they are, how the prospect interacts with them, let's face it... anyone who has dragged out of bed to take their kid to a 5 a.m. practice is part of this.
Along with this, one of the joys of this game for me has been how my entire family has taken hockey to their hearts. My eldest, one of the loudest and most passionate fans I have seen, watches the game with his heart, lives and dies with every shift. My middle guy, who has played the game since he was eight and was lucky enough to help propel a team to a state championship last season, I wish that all hockey parents could have that feeling of watching that. My daughter, who knows the game better than a lot of adults, who tagged along to countless travel weekends, cheering on the teams and is one of the biggest fans of the game I know. My wife and partner, how she has supported my dreams in being involved in this great game, how she has driven great ideas in HockeyBuzz Radio and driven me to be better in everything I do.
No other sport seems to have the family connection that hockey does. Hockey is family.
4. The Miracle on Ice
The 1980 Olympic Team was a revelation. After years of futility in international competition, the US team finally broke through, beating teams of professionals in one of the most unlikely runs in sports history. It was an odd combination of sport, politics and patriotism. My memories of the day that the miracle team beat the Soviets are still crystal clear, I was a freshman at Catholic University in Washington, DC. The memory of flags flying on hockey sticks hanging from all of the dorms on campus are very vivid, the party on campus that night was amazing... unfortunately my memories of that party are a little clouded ;)
5. Not being part of hoard
I love that hockey is an underdog where I live. I love that a lot of fans can't see hockey succeeding in a market like Nashville. In a football market, it's tough to be a hockey fan, the main stream media doesn't understand the game, and worse yet, refuses to learn it. The coverage (when you get any) is slanted, full of half-truths and lacks insight. In traditional markets it's easy to be a hockey fan, in a non-traditional market you are looked on as a little off, watching that odd game on the ice. Add to that the attacks you constantly receive from other areas about how hockey doesn't belong.
It makes you stronger, it makes you defend more, hold tighter and defiantly show your colors.