Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on November 22, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At the Beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals, after the
Blackhawks qualified for the Stanley Cup Finals, I told my wife that no one in
this house hold wears a Jonathan Toews t-shirt or a Chicago Blackhawks t-shirt
during entirety of the Stanley Cup Finals. My wife looked at me and said, “you can’t be
serious.” I told her, “I was dead serious.”
I continued on with my rant, I don’t care if he went to UND or not, I am
Boston Bruins fan, blah, blah, blah…. Nonetheless, that wish was honored. The
fact that no one ever wore one of the t-shirts in question was probably a pure
accident, or a divine intervention, because my wife takes orders from no one.
I even considered deleting the song Chelsea Dagger from
my iPod. Before I did anything rash, I regained my senses, when I realized that
I was in fact allowed to keep that song on my iPod.
I had an epiphany, and it dawned on me. Of course, I can
keep Chelsea Dagger on my iPod, because whenever the UND hockey team scores a
goal, the song Chelsea Dagger is played over the Ralph Engelstad Arena’s loud
speakers. Disaster was avoided, for at least that moment.
Just for the record, last season, Chelsea Dagger was played
71 times at Ralph Engelstad Arena, s/t to Jayson Hajdu. So, I had a reprieve. My daughter is also a big fan of the song as
well. Somehow, my five year old daughter also knows who Jonathan Toews is as
well and she seemed to be talking about him a lot during the Stanley Cup
Finals, I am sure she had some coaching, from someone. I am not sure who to
Last night, before I went out for a bike ride, before I
left, I was looking for a t-shirt to put on and I just couldn’t bring myself to
slip any of the aforementioned shirts on at the present time. Not now, maybe
latter. I just wasn’t up to it right
now. The wounds are still fresh. I know, I know, as a UND alumnus, I am
supposed to be happy for Toews winning his second Stanley Cup, but his team
just beat my favorite NHL team. I am still in a state of mourning.
Yay, good for him, but he was part of the enemy for two
While riding my bike last night, I began to percolate for
the subject of this blog post, I thought of an article that also inspired me as
well that is worth reading. It’s a good
article written by Ian Cameron McLaren, one of my colleagues from the Hockey Writers.
Ian Cameron McLaren, ScoreNation – First, let’s talk about why things are the way they are.
This past week, Jeff
Marek made an
interesting point on the MvsW podcast that speaks to the divisive nature of sports
fandom. His basic premise was that sports marketing and culture is set up to
create and “us vs them”
mentality, and that this is expressed most clearly in the use of “(Blank)
Nation” or “(Blank) Army” to describe a fan base. What this does is establish a
mobilization of the fans wherein we feel as though we are actually part
of the battle, so to speak. We follow and support the cause
of our favorite teams, and feel intimately linked to the outcomes that befall
them. If they win, we take to the streets to celebrate; if they lose, we feel
like our home and native land has been invaded and pillaged, leaving us wander
aimlessly until the battle picks up again.
The fallacy here, of course,
is that what will be,
will be, regardless of how we personally feel about the team in question. Our attachments to our teams are
mostly peripheral, in the sense that we likely have no personal knowledge of or
attachment to the actual people who are playing the game. We pay money for
tickets, jerseys and cable packages, investing in war bonds if you will, but we don’t affect the outcomes of the
Again, regardless of what happens, it’s not a reflection of
who we are personally; if they win, we cheer but the accolades are not ours,
and if we lose, it stinks but the failure is also not really ours.
Think about this, we have no “affect” on the outcomes of
favorite team’s games. No matter what
jersey we wear to the games or what we eat meal we eat in our pre-game meals, we
have no “affect” on the outcomes of favorite teams games. None! Zero!
Although, looking back, former UND hockey players from
the past will talk about how the amazing the fan following was, while they were
in Grand Forks playing for UND. So, that could be up for some debate.
But I digress.
While we might be unhappy that our favorite team lost a
game, division, or championship, those losses are not ours. These losses belong
to our favorite teams, they own them. We’re just along for the ride, but
sometimes that ride can be pretty awesome.
On November 19, 2011, while covering the UND hockey team
for Inside Hockey, UND was playing the Bemidji State Beavers at the Sanford
Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. While finding my assigned seat in the press box,
I came across a beat up practice puck that was sitting where my laptop was
going to be placed, in the BSU press box. There it was, just sitting there in
the press box, so I put the puck in my bag.
Coming into the series against the Beavers, UND was mired
in a 3-6-1 slump. UND would leave the series and the Sanford Center with a series
split and a 4-7-1 season record.
That beat up hockey puck would travel with me in my backpack,
to and from the arena for the rest of the season. From that weekend forward,
the UND hockey team would go 22-6-2. With puck in toe, UND would win its third
Final Five championship in a row, before losing in the NCAA West Regional
championship at the Xcel Energy Center the week later.
After the season was over, I contemplated keeping the
good luck puck in my bag for the 2012-13 season. The puck has since been retired; it sits in my
dresser at home. I know the puck played
no part in the UND’s success that season, but I didn’t want to upset the apple
cart and I am very superstitious. I don’t like to even golf without the correct
number of balls and tees in my pocket.
Think a lot of us even though we might just be fans or
bloggers, still get wrapped up in our favorite team’s success and failures and
feel it, when they lose their last game of the season.
Since 2000, I have only had one of my favorite team’s win
its final game of the year that resulted in a championship once, and that team
was the Boston Bruins, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup in seven games over the
So, since 2000, I have only had one team win it all, and
more times than not, these favorite teams of mine (UND hockey, Vikings, Boston
Bruins) have had their seasons many times ended in defeat, in the early rounds
of the playoffs, many times when they were the heavy favorites.
In conclusion, while we might just be fans, our favorite
teams play a very big part of our lives, even if the games are only an escape
from the reality of our boring lives. It
is what it is.