A Year in Review: The 2008-2009 Yearbook

With the Stanley Cup hoisted and the champions crowned, another hockey season is officially in the history books! Now it’s time to take a look back at the tears, the laughter, the adventures, and the close calls of 2008-09. Relive my adventures from Anaheim to Zurich and everywhere in between.

Warning: EXTREMELY long entry ahead!

September 2008: Here we go again!

Most hockey fans could care less about exhibition games, but I’m not one of them! The Philadelphia Flyers’ annual preseason game in London, ON is one of my favourite (and cheapest) games of the season! This season’s trip was a little different than the 07-08 excursion. Last year we encountered a close call – construction on the west end of the 401. We decided it was better to head up to London the night before the game to avoid missing any vital part of the game *ahem* the warm up/being harassed by the various mascots that turned out for the event.

We pulled up at the hotel late on the eve of the game. The guy working the front desk was apparently quite taken by my perfume, and volunteered to spill his guts to me about everything he knew. “You do know the team is staying here, right?” No, but I do now, thanks! The Flyers were playing a pre-season game in Ottawa that night, and, to my discomfort, pulled up to our lodgings in London just as we were coming in from a night on the town. It was my instinct to run away and hide, but instead we walked into the hotel and vigorously pressed the elevator button for an escape. Unfortunately, only one of the hotel elevators was functioning and the two of us were trapped with approximately forty or so Flyers and Flyers prospects. ..eek!

When the elevator finally showed up, we were packed like sardines with the players – old favourites, and a few new faces. One of the newbies turned to me and said, “Don’t worry we don’t bite!” Oh no he did not! I don’t know about you, but if I said that to someone the translation would be “I don’t bite unless you want me to.” He clearly had no idea whom he was addressing! The next morning, the same guy decided he would fill in as our make shift host at breakfast. The taste of my omelet was nicely accented by the boys’ choice of bodily function breakfast conversation…yum!

We decided to kill time in the morning checking out the Flyers’ practice at the John Labatt Centre! Unfortunately, only the few players not playing in that evening’s match up were taped up. The game itself was both exciting and frightening! We were sitting on the glass behind the Flyers’ goal, which can be a nerve racking experience during the warm up – what with all the pucks flying at the glass! What’s worse is that we caught the attention of this season’s most heinous puck bunny!

This blonde Hooters girl reject didn’t seem to like me very much. She followed me around the arena so she could insecurely laugh at me with her overweight minion. Of course, this is to be expected in London, ON. With no professional hockey for two hours both ways on the 401, these over-aged OHL war pigs likely have only one game a year to exert their puck bunny skills *spreads legs* on those of the non Jailbait persuasion. Apparently, I must have been in competition with her and didn’t realize it haha! See you next year, darling!

The Flyers shut out the Islanders 4-0! This would be the first time that my friend and I have ever sat on the winning side. With the annual London game in the books, the season had officially kicked off! The season was young, and our future was bright. We drove back to Toronto discussing upcoming plans and trips, but not before we took a picture of the sign for our favourite London based chiropractor!

Game #1
Operation: Delta Force*
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders
September 25, 2008
London, ON
Radio: Miley Cyrus – See You Again (Amanda’s 2008 Philly Soundtrack)
Girls Aloud – Can’t Speak French (Amanda’s 2008 Philly Soundtrack)

*I refer to games as “operations” because I am an undercover, sketch bag, creeper spy by nature.

October 2008:
Back to the drawing board!

October started off with yet another exhibition game, Leafs vs. Wings! The Red Wings don’t often come to town, and so I jumped at the opportunity to wear my shiny red jersey! Since it was so late in the preseason, the Wings had trimmed most of the talentless fat from their roster, so the game was not as amusing as it could have been for me at least. Each season I, generally, attend at least two preseason games: Flyers @ London, and one Leafs’ home game. Last season Phoenix was the Toronto ticket – foreshadow? Perhaps.

I was optimistic about heading to Philadelphia towards the end of the month, but conflicts of interest began to arise, and the trip was pushed back indefinitely. By the time Halloween approached (I dressed up as the Devil a.k.a. a Detroit Red Wing), I was resolved to set out on my own in the interest of creative research.

Game #2
Operation: I Know What You Did Last Summer
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings
October 4, 2008
Toronto, ON
Radio: None (home game)

November 2008: Oh yeah, that happened!

In retrospect, it’s funny to think about how scared I was before the Flyers’ first regular season game in Ottawa in early November. It’s funny to think that I was ever nervous to go to hockey games by myself. Prior to this season I had only attended two hockey games by myself EVER – and they were both uncomfortable. My first, in Detroit, was an awkward and irritating experience. Not only were the players’ wives stalking me and complaining that my hair was nicer than theirs, I was also featured on the Kiss Cam and was forced to kiss the strange boy sitting to my right. My second time, in Nashville, was dangerous and disastrous! Re: Will NOT have sex for carbs or money!

Before the game started, I was panicking in the parking lot. I was talking to my usual partner in crime (over the phone), she had decided that she wanted to check out the Flyers’ game in Montreal the following weekend. And so it was decided that it shall be done. I would attend four NHL games in the month of November. At the time, this was a new record.

After the warm up in Ottawa, my nerves died down. People started to fill the stands and I managed to focus more on my research than anything else. This was also the first game that my trusted little black notebook made an appearance – it has not left my side, or rather my purse, since. For the rest of the season, I would attend twenty-two other games, of which I was plus one for only five.

The following weekend we were off to Montreal. We had not decided on whether or not we were going to the game yet so we didn’t have tickets. But, after a night of too much champagne, we woke up on game day determined to get tickets for the main event. We had to resort to consultation with a street scalper, and, unfortunately, could only acquire tickets in the Habs zone – SAD! We had to pay in cash, naturally, and, while at the ATM machine, I discovered that I had my first every black out moment as a result of drinking (champagne seems to be the killer for me). A check had disappeared from my wallet, which I later discovered was deposited in the bank the night before.

Since we were to be sitting in the Habs zone, we wanted to make sure we had Flyers gear. We roamed the shops and malls of downtown Montreal in search of small sized paraphernalia. My friend managed to find an appropriate sized Flyers jersey, but I was forced to buy a children’s Eagles jersey instead. I had to deal with guys calling me McNabb all day, and I was far too hung over and belligerent to want any part of that.

The third game of November was one of our annual Buffalo games. I decided that I needed a disguise. I had been to too many Flyers games that month, and wanted to blend into the background more in the interest of my creative research. I went back to my (probable) natural hair colour for the first time in three years in hopes of going unnoticed. It didn’t work.

A few days before the game, tragedy struck! My car was broken in to and the bandits made away with a good $200+ worth of my favourite music :(. YES, that included Heart’s Greatest Hits! Some of the losses effected me more than others, such as rare gems, I Mother Earth and Jace Everett, and all three irreplaceable Philly soundtracks which Amanda had made in honour of our various adventures since 2006-07! Double SAD! Needless to say I was still heart broken on my way down the QEW toward B-lo!

I have been getting my Sabres tickets from the same source since the 06-07 season. Every year, we stop by his house in Niagara-on-the-Lake en route to the game, pick up our tickets, and leave a traditional Flyers related Christmas gift. This season, our guy was up in Fort McMurray visiting his son as his Christmas card indicated, so we didn’t get to see him. This year he left us with forty Sabres Bucks, which could be used for anything in HSBC Arena, including beer *ahem.* As you can tell by the picture, that’s what we put the money towards.

The highlight of this trip was grabbing lunch at Red Rooster in Niagara-on-the-Lake. For those of you not from Southern Ontario, Niagara is the romantic destination for all middle aged married couples, and horny eighteen year olds in our area. Anyway, that was off topic, but the point is, I had the best damn grilled cheese sandwich ever in this little town. It had BACON on it!! Me + Bacon = Love. Honourable mention to Biron’s little cousin whom we see every year, “Yeeeeah.”

November wrapped up with the Flyers’ first visit to T-dot. I was completely alone apart from my trusted notebook and the few Leafs and NHL staff that I knew from my MLSE days. The game was uneventful if a recall correctly, and marked the failure of the “mission.” The words, “Oh yeah, that happened” were never uttered, and I was back to the drawing board in the interest of my research.

Game # 3
Operation: I Bet You’d Like To Know
Ottawa Senators vs. Philadelphia Flyers
November 6, 2008
Ottawa, ON
Radio: Heart – Never
Dragonette –Take It Like A Man

Game # 4
Operation: French Legion
Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
November 15, 2008
Montreal, QC
Radio: Lady Gaga – Paparazzi
Dragonette – I Get Around

Game # 5
Operation: Disco Stick (we were listening to a lot of Lady Gaga)
Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers
November 21, 2008
Buffalo, NY
Radio: Lady Gaga – Love Game
Britney Spears – Toy Soldier (a.k.a. Philly Jam 2007)

Game # 6
Operation: Happy Hour
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Philadelphia Flyers
November 29, 2008
Toronto, ON
Radio: None (home game)

December 2008: Fa la la la la la la la la!

I’d like to think that it was in the charitable spirit of the holiday season that I decided to start December off with my first and only American Hockey League game of the season – take THAT, Grand Rapids! But truthfully, it was the fact that my trip to Philadelphia was pushed back yet again! The Milwaukee Admirals were in Toronto for their annual face off against the Marlies. I was feeling nostalgic so I busted out the old Ads jersey – the NICE, red one, not the dirty skull pirate that Admirals fans have been familiar with since the 2006-07 season!

The sad thing about minor hockey, much like with junior hockey, is that the players grow up and move on. On the current Ads roster there were all of two players that I remember watching back when I jumped the Milwaukee championship bandwagon back during the NHL Lock Out season. It’s kind of depressing to live vicariously through these players only to have them abandon you (just when they were starting to be exciting to watch) with nothing more than a distant memory. *Sigh*

It was a lot of NHL Center Ice for the remainder of December until Boxing Day. The day after Christmas I hit the road and headed south bound on the I-75 for Columbus, OH for the Flyers game. This was my first trip to Nationwide Arena. A couple close calls ensued! The highlights for me were the twenty degree weather (I didn’t wear a coat the entire time), stocking up on my precious purple Rockstar energy drinks, and learning the folklore of the rink by the local fans!

Apparently, Nationwide Arena is either haunted or cursed because it is built over an old penitentiary. The fans claim that the team will never be a winning team while they play in that facility. They also say that Feng Shui had been done to cleanse the rink – holy water in the zamboni and stuff like that. I will look into this further and see what I can come up with. If anyone knows anything, email me at psycholadyhockey@hotmail.com. It is interesting that 2008 would cap off with a ghost story, when the supernatural becomes a prominent theme for the second half of the season.

Game # 7
Operation: Lock Out Revisited
Toronto Marlies vs. Milwaukee Admirals
December 6, 2008
Toronto, ON
Radio: None (home game)

Game # 8
Operation: This Is Why You Don’t Get Into Cars With Strange Boys
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Philadelphia Flyers
December 27, 2008
Columbus, OH
Radio: Kings of Leon – Crawl
Kings of Leon – Closer
Related Blogs: This is why you don’t get into cars with strange boys!

January 2009: It’s Philly, Bitch – Part IV

After Christmas I decided that it was unlikely that I would make it to Philadelphia if I waited around for my friends to commit to the outing. This was also the time when I rearranged my finances to support a possible switch to Phoenix. This trip also marked my second Philly conflict (a.k.a. the NEW Curse of Grand Rapids) which made me nervous that the switch was imminent!

On my way to PHI-town I was pulled over for doing 85 in a 65 (oops). Luckily Officer McHotterson let me off with a semi-warning – he opted to fine me for my Flyers dice instead. Although I was happy that my insurance wouldn’t be destroyed, I was nonetheless rattled by the incident and worried that I’d be leaving the team that I loved for unknown desert sands.

I had an awesome time in Philly; I gorged myself on cheesesteaks and even took in a Flyers practice. The Leafs were in town for the second of the two games I went to see. This was the first time I had ever seen the Leafs play live on the road, and the first time since I was employed with MLSE Ltd., that I actually wanted to cheer them on…what the?!

Game # 9
Operation: It’s Philly, Bitch –Part IV
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Minnesota Wild
January 8, 2009
Philadelphia, PA
Radio: Arctic Monkeys – 505
Arctic Monkeys – Do Me A Favour
Related Blogs: Fuzzy dice: a speed demon’s best friend.

Game # 10
Operation: It’s Philly, Bitch –Part IV
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
January 10, 2009
Philadelphia, PA
Radio: Arctic Monkeys – Dancin Shoes
Coldplay – Violet Hill
Related Blogs: Fuzzy dice: a speed demon’s best friend.

February 2009: The Beginning of the End

I took the rest of January off and plotted to return to Philadelphia in the second last week of February (during my reading week from university) when the Pens and the Sabres were in town; however, not before my excursion to Boston for the Flyers first of two trips to Bean Town within a matter of weeks. I flew to Boston at the beginning of the month, but encountered another conflict of interest – strike 3 for Philadelphia! I was in coasting mode now, waiting for that massive sign to tell me to jump ship.

Don’t get me wrong, Boston was still a great time! The Flyers and I had crossed paths again and were lodging at the same hotel – complete with hilarious London-esque elevator incidences. The boys were playing the Bruins in a matinee game, and I apparently made my CSN and NESN debuts that afternoon! The guy sitting next to me was living in Boston, but from Philly originally. During the game he was receiving texts from friends and family in both locations because we were featured prominently on both feeds. It’s nice to know I could be enjoyed from the comforts of home and/or sick bed – ha!

After some quick post game sushi, I headed off to Logan International and flew back into Buffalo. Twelve days later I was back at the airport (Pearson International this time), and bound for the city of brotherly love. My second trip to Philadelphia was all about visiting and revisiting friends and favourites – as well as satiating my craving for cheesesteaks.

Once more, I took in a Flyers practice (I got there on TIME this time!). I also checked out the famous Flyers wives carnival while I was killing time before my flight back home. It was OK, but I’m sure it was tonnes of fun for kids and super fans alike. I mostly liked the food, and annoying the Hall of Fame by flaunting my beer drinking in front of him *tee hee!*

The final game in the month of love was an unexpected trip to Ottawa to see the Leafs play! My friend called me at 3PM and wanted to do something. Naturally, this involved hockey, but the closest game to us was in Ottawa! We decided we would burn rubber and head to the nation’s capital and buy cheap seats! 4 hours and $400 later (and a pie), we were sitting 4th row representing our oversized Leafs jerseys (we had dressed for sitting in the upper bowl).Boy was I ever glad that I still had bed head! :(

Game # 11
Operation: This Ain’t The Ritz!
Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
February 7, 2009
Boston, MA
Radio: None (Flight)
Related Blogs: The Bean Pot is NOT a cook off & other adventures in Boston.

Game # 12
Operation: It’s Philly, Bitch – Part V
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres
February 19, 2009
Philadelphia, PA
Radio: None (Flight)
Related Blogs: Philadelphia (Days 1 & 2): Toronto is not a state!

Game # 13

Operation: It’s Philly, Bitch – Part V
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
February 21, 2009
Philadelphia, PA
Radio: Metallica – Wherever I May Roam
Metallica – Sad But True
Related Blogs: Philadelphia (Days 3 & 4): Dear Flyers “dance team,” we need to have a talk…

Game # 14
Operation: What Just Happened?
Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
February 28, 2009
Ottawa, ON
Radio: Kanye West – Stronger
Britney Spears – If You Seek Amy
Related Blogs: What just happened? Why are we in Ottawa?

March 2009:
Rise of the Phoenix

March was an eventful and emotionally straining month! I reached a new road show record by taking in eight NHL games! The journey began with my disastrous return to Boston. Everything that could have gone wrong on my way to town did go wrong! From abusive border guards and cancelled flights to blizzards and other forms of Mother Nature’s head games. The day ended in tears and the realization that my time with Philly was officially over.

However, my suspicions weren’t confirmed until I was at the airport waiting for my flight out of town. It was the NHL trade deadline, and I received word of a trade to Phoenix that I had been waiting for since February 2008. When that finally happened, I knew it was time to switch. It was, after all, the very reason I had rearranged my finances after Christmas.

I dashed out of the airport in pursuit of the unknown. I was in cruise control mode now and let the signs and predictions guide me instead of my brain (Read my “Related Blogs” for more details). Over the next nine days I blindly travelled over 4000 miles chasing a white rabbit through various rinks in the United States. From Boston I flew to Buffalo; from Buffalo I drove to Long Island, Detroit, and Newark – all the while wondering what exactly I was meant to find. My mystical six game road trip was very stressful and included far more emotional break downs than I care to mention.

I had discovered along the way that I needed to go to Phoenix. So I booked a trip for the last game of the season. But eight days after the game in Newark, I felt that call to action again. The next day I was boarding a flight to California. Despite pleasantries such as a cheesesteak lay over in Philly, and the discovery of In-N-Out Burger, the less said about Anaheim the better.

Anaheim marked the game where I finally hit bottom. Periodically, I become too invested in hockey, and when this happens my hobby starts to feel abusive. The last time this happened was in 2003 – my only solution was to write a book on hockey subculture. I don’t even know how I managed to make it through the entire game given that the odd tear would escape onto my cheeks from time to time. I was ready to walk away from Phoenix and give up on this supposed “destiny.” Unfortunately, that game in Phoenix was still booked for April 11th. Phoenix would be the last straw. If I couldn’t enjoy myself there, then I was going to walk away for good.

When I flew back into Buffalo, my friend was waiting for me at the airport. We were off to my final game of the month – Flames @ Pens. Like I said, I wasn’t the happiest camper in Anaheim, and so I was kind of feeling anti-hockey (blasphemy) and anti all players involved. After too much champagne…and beer, I took some of my Anaheim aggression out on the innocent and unsuspecting Pens players. This was the night of the infamous “teenstache” incident. The time I decided to point out a certain player’s inability to grow masculine facial hair…every five seconds…while wearing a Calgary Flames cowgirl hat. It was quite the sight I have been told. Poor little guy.

Game # 15

Operation: The End Is Nigh
Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
March 3, 2009
Boston, MA
Radio: Aerosmith – Living on the Edge
Dido – White Flag
Related Blogs: The end is night: Boston II (Day 1)
Game Day – Flyers @ Bruins: Boston II (Day 2)

Game # 16
Operation: The Stars Align
Boston Bruins vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 5, 2009
Boston, MA
Radio: None (flight)
Related Blogs: The stars align: NHL trade deadline: Boston II (Day 3)
Game Day #2 – Coyotes @ Bruins: Boston II (Day 4)

Game # 17
Operation: White Rabbit
Buffalo Sabres vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 6, 2009
Buffalo, NY
Radio: Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor
Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum
Related Blogs: Game Day #3 – Coyotes @ Sabres: Buffalo II (Day 5)

Game # 18

Operation: White Rabbit
New York Islanders vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 8, 2009
Long Island, NY
Radio: Gwen Stefani – 4 in the Morning
Blue Rodeo – Try
Related Blogs: Wherefore, Romeo?: Long Island (Day 6)
Game Day #4 – Coyotes @ Islanders: Long Island (Day 7)

Game # 19
Operation: White Rabbit
Detroit Redwings vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 10, 2009
Detroit, MI
Radio: Heart – Kick It Out
Heart – Straight On
Related Blogs: Game Day #5 – Coyotes @ Red Wings: Detroit (Day 9)

Game # 20
Operation: White Rabbit
New Jersey Devils vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 12, 2009
Newark, NJ
Radio: Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
Related Blogs: Game Day #6 – Coyotes @ Devils: Newark (Day 11)

Game # 21
Operation: What Just Happened 2?
Anaheim Ducks vs. Phoenix Coyotes
March 22, 2009
Anaheim, CA
Radio: Pitbull – I Know You Want Me
Flo Rida – Right Round
Related Blogs: What just happened? The maiden voyage to California.

Game # 22
Operation: Everybody Gets One
Calgary Flames vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
March 25, 2009
Pittsburgh, PA
Radio: Steve Miller Band – Keep On Rockin Me Baby
Related Blogs: Everybody gets one: Flames @ Pens

April 2009: Season Finale

With a heavy heart I embarked on what was to be my final game of the season in Phoenix, AZ. As it would turn out, Arizona men seemed to be going crazy for my paleness – crazy to the point that they would chase me down the street. Perhaps there was something to this “true love” prophecy after all. However, I did not establish anything with my “soulmate” whoever that may be. Whether you believe in psychics or not, I have to admit that my life was (and is) a lot more exciting ever since these prophecies started coming true. I would have to say that the adventure itself was well worth the effort even if it was for naught.

I finally got to the see the fabulousness that is Jobing.com Arena and I loved it! I was completely blown away. And since the Coyotes were holding their Fan Appreciation during their season finale, the crowd was big and the atmosphere was excellent. Even Vince Vaughn was in attendance that night!

I spent the whole night driving around the desert in my convertible (woooooo!). I figured there was no use sleeping since I had to be at the airport at 4AM (I didn’t even book a room for that night). I got the impression, however, that my travels for the season weren’t over yet; and sure enough, a few days later, I got that familiar call to action once more.

The next thing I knew I was on a direct flight to Zurich, Switzerland! Objective: the IIHF World Championship. I had been studying international relations in terms of sporting events (particularly between Canada and USA in terms of NCAA hockey). I was excited to see how these relationships played out on the public stage, but, unfortunately, I was disappointed to say the least.

I had expected that other Canadian hockey fans were like me; that they travelled all over supporting the game that holds our nation together. But they didn’t come. The majority of “Canadian fans” weren’t actually Canadian at all. I was expecting to make friends, but instead I was lonelier than ever! I felt like I was excommunicated from everyone I knew. I was alone, my phone didn’t work, and my adapter was the wrong size for my lap top. On top of everything else, the TV didn’t speak English!

The trip wasn’t a total waste. I went sightseeing, and took in two IIHF games. I also ate a lot of chocolate and candy –oh my. Still, on my final night in Zurich, I was sitting in bed (literally) banging my head against the wall. I was so happy to be going home and to be done with the hockey season for the year. As my skull connected with the wall, I couldn’t help thinking that it was time to find a new game.

Game # 23
Operation: Last Call ‘09
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Anaheim Ducks
April 11, 2009
Phoenix, AZ
Radio: Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
Muse – Map of the Problematique
Related Blogs: The moment you’ve all been waiting for: Phoenix ‘09

Game # 24
Operation: New Lengths
Canada vs. Belarus
April 24, 2009
Zurich, ZH
Radio: Nickelback – Something in Your Mouth
Related Blogs: And then I went to Switzerland: Canada vs. Belarus (Part I)

Game # 25
Operation: New Lengths
Canada vs. Hungary
April 26, 2009
Zurich, ZH
Radio: Kanye West – Welcome to Heartbreak
Related Blogs: And then I went to Switzerland: Canada vs. Hungary (Part II)

2 Responses to A Year in Review: The 2008-2009 Yearbook

  1. eyebleaf says:

    Holy shit, that's a lot of games.

  2. […] I have this natural habit of associating music with my stories. I did this a little bit in the 2008-2009 Yearbook, so I’m going to do that again and “roll the credits” at the end of every entry. This means […]

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