Could it be I'm falling in love?

I've got a little time up here in the Great White North and I think I'm going to use that time to rekindle and old flame...with the NHL.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was hockey. There was hockey were helmets were optional, where there were precious little rules, where the teams made sense.

Prince of Wales Conference
Adams Division
Montreal Canadiens
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Hartford Whalers
Quebec Nordiques
Patrick Division
New York Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers
Washington Capitals
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Pittsburgh Penguins

Clarence Campbell Conference
Norris Division
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Chicago Blackhawks
Toronto Maple Leafs
Minnesota North Stars
Smythe Division
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Winnipeg Jets
Los Angeles Kings
Vancouver Canucks

The 1987 ream roster. Notice something about that line-up? All those cities have winter. They're all cold places. (Except LA, but they were brutal and made for delish hockey). They are all Eastern, Western or Canadian cities. Hockey was big and play was ruthless. Fans lined up for days to get tickets. It was mayhem, madness, cultish. I lurved it. And then, and theeeeeen...

It started to get popular. Good on ya, hockey. Everyone should know how mind-boggling awesome you are. But as it got popular, people wanted in on it. People with big pockets with big wallets wanted a piece of it. People from not-Eastern, Western, not Canadian cities. And so they started buying into it. It was a slow change, subtle-yet deadly. Expansion teams started forming all over America. Denver had a grrrreat team, The Grizzlies. They played for the IHL and they rocked it. And then, and theeeeeen,...

Denver bought the Nordiques. Yes, they were the bastard child team. They weren't the greatest, their attendance was low, and yes, Denver was ready for the NHL. It's cold there. But I still can't get over the fact that they didn't give the Grizzlies a shot to make it. They kicked serious buttocks.

Let me backtrack here a bit. Dallas bought the North Stars. Let me repeat that....Dallas, TEXAS bought a hockey team based in the heart of MINNESOTA. (I know they lost their franchise, but still, there's what right and there's what right...)

And then, something really horrible happened, and my world was ripped apart. My hero, my GOD, pulled up roots and joined Denver's team. This was all well & good for Denver, but when the Montreal Canadiens, who had won more Stanley Cups than any other team at that point, play without Patrick Roy, who won a bunch of them, something is amiss in the world. I couldn't handle it. I stopped watching games. I sulked. I had to redecorate my bedroom.

You'd think that living in a town with a kick-ass hockey team boasting a world class roster (1996 COLORADO AVALANCHE: Rene Corbet, Adam Deadmarsh, Stephane Fiset, Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg, Alexei Gusarov, Dave Hannan, Valeri Kamensky, Mike Keane, Jon Klemm, Uwe Krupp, Sylvain Lefebvre, Claude Lemieux, Curtis Leschyshyn, Troy Murray, Sandis Ozolinsh, Mike Ricci, Patrick Roy, Warren Rychel, Joe Sakic, Chris Simon, Craig Wolanin, Stephane Yelle, Scott Young. (Head Coach: Marc Crawford) would have eased my troubled mind, and maybe it did, but then rules started changing, and there was less fighting and more trying to flat out kill each other, and Florida had a team, and there were season-long hiatuses, and the Senators starting winning (and we all now that there's a sign of the apocalypse right there) and I, well, I had to break up with hockey. I just stopped returning its calls, I stopped going to its games.

And that is that. I love hockey no more. But I miss it, and I think it's time to revisit my torrid little love affair. I'll never love the Canucks with the passion I felt for the Flyers, and certainly not like I loved the Canadiens, but I'm willing to try. Maaybe dinner and a game. I don't know, but I think I'd like to give it a shot.