I heard about this reality show called, Replay, which brings together the members of former sports teams to play a rematch of the pinnacle games of their careers. It’s a really cool idea for a show! I have often thought about the defining moments in my career as a hockey addict, and I can’t help but wonder what my life might have been like had certain things not happened, or had I not gone to certain games. So, for this week’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday, we look at the games/moments that eventually led to the birth of Psycho Lady Hockey, and my hockey adventures around the world. Whether you are thankful things happened the way they did, or you’re a hater, and wish I had stayed home on these days is up to you. Get ready! You are about to embark upon a lengthy walk down memory lane. Enjoy! Top Photo: My first REAL Coyotes game. Look you can see my shirt! Haha!
10. Team Canada vs. Team Finland (December 31, 2002)
ACK! What I wouldn’t have given to have had actual plans on New Year’s Eve that year. For the first and only time in my life, I was experiencing constant peer-pressure. Let’s not discuss what it was pressure over, but the IIHF World Junior Championship games turned out to be the only rare occasions that my, then, friends would let up on trying to get me hooked on their ideas of who I should become entangled with. Some of them had a crush on the captain of Team Canada. I was so overwhelmed at the time that I didn’t notice him, but my most vivid memory of that time period was of his picture being on TV, and my friends letting up on me for a few brief moments just so they could gush over him. I guess the picture was ingrained on my mind as a type of safe haven, even though I had no idea who this player was (apart from his name), or where he played during the regular season. For years, I never actively thought of him again, but, like I said, his image would be the first memory that would come to me the moment I thought of this traumatic experience. I never knew or cared about what became of this guy, but sure enough, our paths would cross again and again and again in my hockey history. Anyway, I watched that game twice that night, nervous as Hell, and not absorbing a thing apart from one commentator’s strange remark, “Ruutu hammers Tootoo; two to Ruutu!” Try saying that five times fast! Replay: If I had plans on this NYE, had I been out of town, or far, far away from where I was; things would be different. I wouldn’t have learned the cold hard truth about puck bunnies, and the value of friendships when hockey players are involved. As a result, I never would have written Down the Rabbit Hole, and I likely would not be as involved with studying the culture of the game as I am today.
9. Kitchener Rangers vs. Guelph Storm (March 28, 2002 – Game 4)
The funny thing was the Kitchener Rangers were swept in the first four games of the 2002 OHL Playoffs, but ended up taking the Memorial Cup in 2003. Earlier that season, I was introduced to OHL hockey, and started introducing my friends to it as well. By this final game of the 2001-2002 season, one of my friends decided to meet up with a girl she knew from one of her extra-curricular activities (and I mean that in the non-dirty sense). This girl, and her friends, went to high school with the team, and they were full blown pucks. One girl had a webpage, you remember those homestead accounts people used to have, on which she posted a picture of every player she had relations with and what she did with them. Unlike the rumours people started about my site, this chick actually posted this stuff (and only this stuff) on hers. Anyway, these girls were in the habit of waiting for the players after the games, and they introduced my friends to this ritual. I remember how awkward I felt standing there. I never understood what they were after. They didn’t want autographs. They didn’t want pictures. They just wanted to be seen. I stood there pressed up against the concrete wall, looking down at my running shoes, and praying that the next thing out of someone’s mouth was, “OK! Let’s get out of here.” That offseason, I moved to Toronto to finish high school, and left my former hockey buddies behind to mingle with the likes of the locker room lurkers. On the weekends, when I started coming home again, I was horrified to learn that my friends had grown closer with the type of girls discussed above, and that they were now in the habit of waiting after every game. I remember fiddling with my keys, trying not to make eye contact, yet somehow some of these guys ended up with my phone number and email address. Replay: Had we decided not to go to this 2002 playoff game, my friends would have likely lost interest in the Rangers after my relocation to Majors territory. But since this didn’t happen, this behaviour eventually led to my very traumatic, and life defining experience during the 2003 WJC tourney the following season.
8. St. Michael’s Majors vs. Kitchener Rangers (February 10, 2002)
Of course, I already knew all about the Ontario Hockey League when I was a kid. I even sang the national anthem with my choir at one of the games back in grade school. However, it was my uncle who took me to my first REAL junior hockey game. I was really obsessed with the Leafs and never missed a game. This was before the horrid LeafsTV era. My uncle decided to introduce me to the O because he thought I would probably love it just as much. I did love it. I loved sitting so close to the ice and being able to get a sense of the size of the players and the quickness of the game. I never sat closer than the second last row of the upper bowl at the Air Canada Centre or Maple Leaf Gardens. Replay: Sometimes I wonder had the Rangers not been the team visiting St. Michael’s College School Arena, if I would have sought out the team when I was back home in Kitchener with my fellow Catholic school girl friends.
7. Employment with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (2005-2006 Season)
Leafs fans have been put through a lot like, a repeating history of horribleness, and a total scarcity of game tickets. That being said, they are loyal as Hell. The Leafs were my homeboys. They could do no wrong in my eyes, until the fateful day I accepted employment in an MLSE front office. After my dream job turned into a nightmare, I couldn’t stand the sight of the Leafs or any MLSE team. Thank goodness, the Rock and the Jays are independent of MLSE! Replay: Had I not gotten the job with MLSE, I know things would be different. To this day, I would still be a die-hard Leafs fan, albeit a sad one. I would have likely never began my NHL road adventures, and I’m sure I would have been more than content being a hometown, blue jersey wearing, Labatt drinking hockey fan. I would have never seen the things that I’ve seen, met the people I’ve met, or had the adventures I’ve had. Had I not taken this job, maybe I’d have all the things that a life on the road has prevented me from having. Maybe I’d have a boyfriend. Maybe I’d be married…with kids? Eek. This one really makes me wonder about how normal my life could have been.
6. Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Milwaukee Admirals (January 29, 2005)
The NHL Lock Out was a difficult time for all hockey fans. I decided to seek out the AHL as a substitute for my beloved Leafs. One night, my friend and I discussed wanting to go on a road trip. Neither of us cared where we went, so I nominated an AHL city because, being a Leafs fan, supporting the Hamilton Bulldogs seemed wrong. I nominated the Milwaukee Admirals on the grounds that they were the defending champs. I didn’t know much else about the team at the time, but after my first game at the Bradley Center on January 20th, 2005, I was hooked. We saw two games in Milwaukee, but on the way back to Toronto, fate intervened. Not paying attention to the road, we found ourselves on the I-96 headed toward Grand Rapids. It was at that moment that we realized how close some of the other AHL teams were to Toronto, and decided to see the Ads play there the following weekend. Replay: Had I not been so into the music, and noticed the off ramp in the left lane, I doubt I would have gone to another Milwaukee game every again. This would have stopped the wanderlust, which eventually turned into Psycho Lady Hockey, from developing.
5. Colorado Avalanche vs. Phoenix Coyotes (November 4, 2009)
This was the game that killed my feelings for the Phoenix Coyotes for good. When I visited the Pepsi Center for the first time, I realized that I couldn’t go home again. The Coyotes were all I knew. As much as I was starting to despise them, they were comfortable. After this game, I was very disillusioned about the Arizona Prophecy and fate in general. I guess, in time, I’ll learn about what the point of this Coyotes misadventure was, but for now it’s a mystery. Replay: What would have happened if I didn’t book this doomed vacation? Would I still be a Phoenix fan? Or was it only a matter of time before everything fell apart at the seams?
4. Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers (February 20, 2007)
After my employment with MLSE, I was at a loss for a team for a couple of months. I had an idea to check out a game in Buffalo, as that was the closest NHL team to Toronto, so it made the most sense for me. They were going to be playing the Philadelphia Flyers on the night in question. I kept asking my friends if they wanted to go, but I was getting denied at every turn. Finally, I had given up on the idea, and just decided to be content with my hockey-less life. One day, the day my scouted Sabres tickets were set to expire on ebay, my, soon to be, hockey partner in crime sought me out. That night we won the tickets, and as it would turn out, they were a couple rows behind the Flyers bench. Instead of becoming a Sabres fan, my friend and I became fast Flyers fans, and scheduled our first trip to Philadelphia for less than two weeks later. Replay: Had my now friend (we had only met twice before that) not contacted me for that game, I never would have become a Flyers fans. I never would have had some of the best, and my most cherished, hockey years of my life with some of the craziest fans in the league. I also wonder if the Arizona Prophecy would have found me if I wasn’t wearing a sparkly black and orange target on my chest.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Hartford Whalers (1994ish)
My uncle decided I was old enough for my first NHL game at the Gardens. I was too lazy to look up the actual date of this game – sorry. At that time, my game experience was limited to Jays games at the SkyDome. I’d only ever see the one game at Maple Leaf Gardens, but the experience had a lasting effect on me and was, obviously, a defining moment in my hockey history. Replay: Had my uncle decided to take his friend to this game instead, I wonder if hockey would have been the thing I turned to in my teen years to keep me sane and stave off adolescent anxiety. I think it’s likely that I would have never found hockey on my own, if it wasn’t for my uncle’s influence in the sports department. It really makes me wonder what kind of life I could have had if I was completely untouched by the fastest sport on ice.
2. Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers (March 3, 2009)
I wasn’t supposed to go to this game in Boston. Early on in the second half of the season, I had limited myself to only going to the Flyers game in Boston on February 7th. However, the trip went amiss, and I decided to give Boston another go. For some reason, Boston had always seemed very significant to me in terms of the Prophecy. Replay: Of course, I was thrust into my unexpected mystical six game road trip the day after this game. I wonder if I hadn’t been in Boston at the time, if I would have bothered to follow the predictions and switch teams to Phoenix as thoughtlessly as I had. I think it is more likely that I would have finished off the season with Philadelphia, and may or may not have reassessed things over the offseason.
1. Boston Bruins vs. Phoenix Coyotes (March 5, 2009)
Seeing that I was still in Boston on March 4th, I felt the call to the Arizona Prophecy after I received word that one of the predictions had fallen into place. I was supposed to be getting on a plane to Buffalo, and heading back home to Toronto. I was at a literal crossroads and I didn’t like the sane option. If Phoenix was the path I was supposed to go on, then I wanted to be able to either confirm or rule the Prophecy out by my own efforts – see (or not see) with my own eyes. It was the most romantic thing I ever did, the only strange thing about it was that I didn’t know who the guy was that I was running to. Replay: The safe bet would have been to get on that plane, but instead I ended up running out of Logan International and back downtown Boston. If I hadn’t received that text message, and got on that plane as scheduled, MAYBE I would have gone to the Coyotes game in Buffalo on the 6th, but I think it was likelier that I would have talked myself out of believing the psychics and searching for the possible man of my dreams. Maybe I would have been responsible and gone to class, instead of embarking upon a “money is no object” trip to find my destiny. I don’t know if there is something to the Arizona Prophecy, as far as I know I found nothing in the desert but heartache. Who knows what the point of all of this was, all I can say is that if I was a little more sane and a little less impulsive, I would have been a lot happier for the last nine months of my life. Oh well, at least I have the story to tell.
Tags: Boston Bruins, buffalo sabres, Fate, grand rapids griffins, guelph storm, hockey addicts, hockey fans, Kitchener Rangers, maple leaf sports and entertainment ltd, milwaukee admirals, philadelphia flyres, Phoenix Coyotes, Replay, st. michael's majors, Team Canada, Toronto Maple Leafs