August 04, 2009
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.
Paul Kukla is the man behind Kukla's Korner, a daily destination for numerous hockey fans for its collection of breaking news items and eclectic bloggers. His writing on NHL.com has frequently explored his passion -- OK, admitted addiction -- to hockey.
An avowed Detroit Red Wings loyalist, here are 5 Reasons Paul Kukla Loves Hockey:
1. Mr. Hockey
KUKLA: I became a hockey fan because of two words or one name: Gordie Howe. As a kid -- and I mean kid, as in six years old -- I saw my first hockey game at the old Olympia Stadium in Detroit. When I saw this man ... saw this man dominate a game like I had never seen before, I wanted more and still want more today.
I would do book reports on Gordie, I would be Gordie in my everyday life, I would help the neighbor out by shoveling her snow, because Gordie did too. When I skated, I would shoot from the right side, just like Gordie, I would raise my elbows up just like he did and I even would mimic that nervous blink Gordie had.
I was Gordie Howe, and he is the reason why I am a hockey fan and continue to watch the game.
Any player that takes to the ice, I try to compare him to Gordie, but quickly realize there may never be a player again like Gordie. My quest will continue though, hoping against hope a player can be compared to the man that was and still is my idol.
2. The Sounds of the Game
Because of Gordie Howe, I adore the sounds of the game in an empty arena, the puck hitting the boards and echoing throughout the rink.
The sound the skates make as a player puts his head down to chase a loose puck, the bone rattling checks, the 'oohs' and 'ahs' the crowd makes when a scoring chance is available but the goalie makes a tremendous save.
Yes, I love the game, because of the man from Floral, Saskatchewan.
3. The Puckhead Passion
These days, as someone who basically covers the game for a living, I enjoy the pure passion fans have for our game. People live and die with their team and to me they are the true fans of the game. The highs and lows from one game to the next are a test for us and those of us that survive this type of ride will, at one point in their life, enjoy the ultimate goal: Raising the Stanley Cup with your team in some fashion.
4. The Arena Experience
I enjoy walking into an arena, hearing the vendors scream 'Programs, get your programs'. I love the smell of the game, from the very unique smell of a hockey locker room to the aroma of a pizza coming out of a hot oven. Toss in a few spilled beers and the peanut shells stuck to my shoes, well, it is an experience one has to go through to really know what I am talking about.
5. Seeing Your Team Win The Ultimate Prize
I have been lucky enough to witness my team, the Detroit Red Wings, win the Stanley Cup four times. I have been in the arena for two of those victories and there has been no bigger high in my life.
I have also been in the locker room when my team has lost a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and believe me, there is nothing lower than that.
But you know what? I still loved it.
How lucky am I to be in a position to say "I was there"? You see, I don't really work, I just love what I do and that is covering and enjoying the greatest game on Earth: NHL Hockey!
Previously on Puck Daddy: