Sunday, April 08, 2007

Reflections on my first season as a Caniac

As a very new hockey fan, I've had a lot to learn about hockey, the 'Canes, and sports in general this past season. I've never followed *any* sport religiously in my lifetime until now. Thanks to my Yankee hubby who first dragged my Southern butt to a game in 2002 and a few hockey games in the '05-'06 season, I'm hooked on hockey. We had season tickets this year in section 121 and will be returning next year.

And, no, I'm not a bandwagoner. This isn't a passing fancy for me. Yeah, so I first started to pay attention to the 'Canes during their Stanley Cup season, but that was purely coincidental. My husband had been saying for some time that he wanted to go to some 'Canes games, and I was, like, "whatever". My first hockey game ever was January 2002 when Francis was honored. I remember being struck by the insane love for this man that the audience displayed, but I was really lost trying to follow the game. I'm glad that I love my husband so much, or I probably wouldn't have gone to another game. Thanks to him, I gave hockey another chance during the Stanley Cup run, and I caught some of the fever. Now, after being a season ticket holder for the '06-'07 season, I am a full blooded Caniac.

Last night's game was such an awesome way to end the season. Of course, it would have been nicer to be headed to the playoffs, but at least we ended on a good note. My hubby & I stayed after the game (for the first time), hoping to get his jersey signed by Walker. Sadly, Walker was one of the players that drove on by last night. (We both love Walker and really hope that he plays for the 'Canes next year.) Meanwhile, Andrew got his new spiffy Chevy 'Canes hat signed by Vasicek, Cole, Commie, Ladd, Wesley, Brind'Amour, Laviolette, Wallin, Seidenberg, Whitney, & Tanabe. Of course, I was hoping to see my boy Staal, but he whizzed by as well. Honestly, I didn't get any autographs because it just didn't feel right. I can't tell you exactly under what circumstances it will feel right, but it wasn't last night freezing in a long line. I guess when I get an autograph, I hope to have time to feel like I actually get to meet/talk with the player. Last night seemed too much like an assembly line for my taste.

Standing back & a few feet away from the fans eager for autographs, I enjoyed hanging with my dear friend Bethe and seeing the players up close. Cole was sporting a sweet purple tie and I told him so which made him look all shy and say, "Oh, yeah. Thanks". I told Tanabe "thanks for your goals tonight". When Commie came by, I yelled to him that I wasn't a "hockey virgin" anymore, but he had no reaction. My husband said Commie didn't hear me, but the guy next to him did and said, "Heh. Yeah, good thing that Grahame didn't hear that. He'd fix that for you." Har har. Ray Whitney was last to come down the line, and the mostly quiet crowd errupted into a cheer of "Ray must stay! Ray must stay!". He was all humble and said that he'd may sure to tell Rutherford that we said that.

Being a season ticket holder is like a part-time job. There are a lot of regular season home games to go to between October & April. This season, there were 41 homes games, and I think I probably made it to 36 of those games. Most games were on weeknights it seemed so there were a lot of times that I left work and drove straight to our meeting place in the parking lot. When the weather got nice, we tailgated a few times....nothing too fancy, just beer and sandwiches. I think we need to buy a small grill for next year so we can cook up some burgers & veggie burgers.

Regardless of the time investment involved, I'm going to miss going to the games. It's going to be a long 5 1/2 months until the next 'Canes home game. In the meantime, there are always the playoffs. Thank God that I said yes when Andrew wanted to buy the 1/2 season of Center Ice channel.

Man, I'm going to miss those Mamma Mia's panzonis at the RBC too.

Go, 'Canes! I believe.