18 April 2006 by Published in: General musings 12 comments

Warning: there is absolutely nothing about the Civil War or my historical work in this post. Instead, it’s about my hockey addiction, so please feel free to skip this post if it’s of no interest to you. I promise to get back to the usual rantings about history tomorrow.

Tonight is a sad night in our household. By now, it’s no secret that Susan and I are major NHL fans, although it’s probably fair to say that I’m a bigger fan. I’ve been a serious NHL fan since childhood. The Philadelphia Flyers won their first of two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974, when I was 13 years old. They won it again the next year, and have never won another one since, although they’ve had some great runs at it since then. Philadelphia was desperate for a winner in those days–the Phillies and Eagles were mired in last place year after year, and the 1973 76’ers had set a record for futility that stands to this day: 9-73. So, when a Philadelphia team finally won a championship, we were all crazy for them. I’ve been a very serious hockey fan ever since, and I remain a loyal Flyers fan to this day.

In 1994 or so, Columbus got an East Coast Hockey League team, the Chill. The team sold out its first 83 consecutive home games before missing one. They were tremendously successful, a prototype for the successful marketing of a minor league sports franchise. We were season ticket holders and rarely missed a game. The success of the Chill led to our getting an NHL expansion team here in 1999.

One of my partners at the law firm and I split a pair of season tickets to the Blue Jackets. The team hasn’t been very good; this is the first time in five years they haven’t finished dead last in their division. This year, they finished third, but were still under .500. They are improving steadily. Going to the games is great fun, and it’s a highlight of my week.

Tonight was the end of the season for the Blue Jackets, who went out in style with an overtime goal by Sergei Fedorov to win the game. They finished 35-47-4, for 74 points. The prior franchise highs were 31 wins and 71 points, so this year was definitely a step in the right direction, and I think that if Rick Nash, the young superstar who had 54 points in 54 games after returning from injuries, had been healthy all year, they would have made the playoffs. It is a bittersweet night here. Hockey season is now over, although I will watch the playoffs and root for the Flyers. It’s going to be a long haul until the next home game, in October. I will be going through withdrawal.

Now it’s back to rooting for the Phillies. Talk about an eternal exercise in frustration…..

Scridb filter


  1. Dave Kelly
    Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 8:43 am

    I gave up on professional sports when baseball betrayed me during the first strike :).

    Try finding a local stock car dirt track for grass roots americana. Starry eyed NASCAR wannabe’s and the bleechers full of relatives who beat the snot out of each other between races. It’s a hoot…

  2. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 10:19 am

    Although baseball is my passion, I was a big hockey fan when I lived in Pittsburgh and my son was a winning goaltender for 5 years. Therefore, I have spent more hours than I can count in the smelly stands and locker rooms of hockey rinks and arenas all over VA. The greatest day for me was the one that my son (who was growing out of his fourth set of pads and equipment) decided to take an extended break (after playing year round for so long.) So although I can sympathize with your disappointment – look at all the free time you’ve just been given to write more books. And why did he decide to quit? Because he discovered girls and NASCAR.

  3. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 4:20 pm

    The Blues finished dead last in the NHL…and missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, when I was 2 years old!

    On the plus side, the Cards have a new stadium and I have season tickets along with a few of my buddies, so life is good! Michael, I happen to be a huge baseball fan myself and an active member of SABR.

    Brett S.

  4. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve had to endure being a Bruins fan all my life (What is it about Boston?) This year, the B’s ended up 29-37-16, and out of the playoffs. Maybe next year….(New Englanders unofficial motto)

  5. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:49 pm


    I really don’t get the whole guys turning left thing. Never have, never will.


  6. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:50 pm


    The Blue Jackets beat up on the Blues pretty good this year. I have to admit that I enjoyed it. 🙂

    I am eager to see a game in the new ballpark. I saw it last March, while still under construction, and it looks beautiful.


  7. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:50 pm


    My partner is from Rhode Island and is a lifelong, die hard Bruins fan. He’s had a rough year this year.


  8. Mike Peters
    Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:51 pm

    Now it’s back to rooting for the Phillies. Talk about an eternal exercise in frustration…..


    Well, at least your beloved Phillies have won a World Series in your lifetime or in their history. Try rooting for the Houston Colt .45s/Astros. They make their initial visit to the series last year & then get swept in 4. I hardly had time to savor the moment

    Jim Wynn, Bob Aspromonte, JR Richards, Nolan Ryan, Sonny Jackson, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, etc. Love ’em all, but how frustrating. Talk about Summertime Blues!

    Hey, how about them 1950 Phillies — Hamner, Konstanty, Ashburn, Robin Roberts? I know, I know … way before both our times.


  9. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:51 pm


    I went to a number of Pens games while I was in law school in Pittsburgh. Twenty years ago, that arena was a dump. I can only imagine its condition now.


  10. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 7:54 pm


    No kidding. 1980 was a brief, shining moment of glory in more than a century of frustration. When one is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan, one learns to expect and understand that one will suffer much more heartbreak than joy. Being a Phillies fan is a life of frustration and heartbreak.

    I was really sorry to see Bagwell end the way he did. A great player like that deserves a victory lap, and I’m sorry he won’t get to enjoy that. Biggio has long been one of my favorite players. I really hope he gets to 3000, and I hope he gets a ring some day.


  11. Wed 19th Apr 2006 at 10:00 pm


    I’ve been to four games in New Busch, including the Minor League exhibition played at the start of the MLB season. My brother Derek even managed to be present for the Pujols three HR, game-winning performance on Sunday. Needless to say I was pretty envious. It is definitely a beautiful place to watch a game. I would recommend tickets in field boxes or the second level on the third base side. You’ll get a beautiful view of downtown and the Gateway Arch.


  12. Rob Wick
    Sat 22nd Apr 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Will I be permanently banned if I mention that golf is the only sport (and yes, I consider it a sport) that I play or even watch on television?

    If so, I will slink off to my favorite course and not be heard from again.

    Best wishes

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