This is something that was started by Paul Kukla of Kukla's Korner to promote the game that unfortunately only some of us love to play and watch. We have three regular hockey players who are a part of this blog, one who grew up playing on the frozen ponds of Harbin, another who played more organized hockey from a young age in Southern California (of all places), and one from Northern Virginia who might have made it big if not for an injury.
For me, the game has always been something that I've shared with my dad and brothers, if not for hockey, we'd often have few things to talk about. We were lucky in that my father would often get NHL tickets and take us into Maryland to the old Capital Centre in Landover. At first, I was too young to go as there were only 4 tickets, but when my older brother went off to college, I was finally in the loop. I remember many a night watching guys like Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, and Mike Luet. There were lots of bad season, a few tragic losses (like the '87 playoffs defeat against the Isles), the Stanly Cup run in '98, and many very bad seasons after that, though now things are finally turning around with a new era of stars like Ovie, Semin, and Mike Green.
The Cap Centre is no more, replaced by the "Phonebooth" in Chinatown, and I'm a lot older and further away from northern Virginia, but I still try to catch parts of every Caps game online (thank god the NHL has kept their broadcasts free!), though it was hard getting excited during the playoffs last year for games that would sometimes start at 5 or 6 am.
My father and one of my brothers are still in the DC area, still attending games and for me, despite the distance, hockey, especially the Caps, is still a common topic of conversation for us. It's something I wish I can pass along to my kid, perhaps not the love of Caps hockey, but just hockey in general (though it wasn't the Caps, the NHL has come to Japan).
No matter how long its been since we last talked, no matter how strained things are, I know I can call or email my siblings and start talking hockey and it will be just like old times, breaking down the barriers that we sometimes put up when mad or frustrated. That is truly why sports, and specifically hockey, are great and why I love hockey.