With three more weeks left in the regular season, the standings have been heating up more and more. The East has even taken a que from the crowded West and every game matters more and more every night, with teams jockeying in and out of position and playing for home ice.
With that said, I've been watching more hockey games, not just Pens games. This got me thinking about those 29 other hockey teams in the NHL, and who I like, well not as much as the Pens, but more than others. Like in baseball, I think it's okay to have a favorite team in the West and one in the East. I love the National League Pirates, but I also like the Yankees, who of course play in the American League. Friends always ask how can I like two different teams, and I just say, because you can. It's hard to explain I suppose.
I started having this conversation a lot with my dad, especially lately. My dad grew up in Erie, which means he was always pretty torn between sports teams: he's a Steelers fan, but he has always loved the Browns a little bit more; he loves the Buccos and cherishes his memories of going to Forbes and Three Rivers, but he still has a soft spot for the Cleveland Indians. When it comes to hockey, he of course likes the Penguins, but when he was younger he could catch Maple Leafs radiocasts from across the lake and really enjoyed listening to those games. Hence, when a Leafs game is on TV, he's cheering for the blue shirts.
So we got to talking, and he said something that I think a lot of people may fall victim to, and that is he likes the Chicago Blackhawks as well. When I asked him why, he said he didn't really know, that it might be something else as part of the Original Six lore. That got me wondering how many other people, well may not love a team like the Bruins or Hawks or Habs, but like them as their second favorite team because they just have the Original Six tag to them?
I can see where my old man is coming from, there is a lot to respect with the Blackhawk's history, and especially now I think it's hard not to like Toews and Kane as talented, young players. But I am not willing to drink the Hawk kool-aid just yet. So I started thinking even more!
As many of you know, living in Los Angeles made me hate the place, so I can't like the Kings. They're a joke in my opinion, as is much of the city for that part. So they're out of my Western bracket. And seeing as I'm a history buff in most other topics, I tried sticking with that. The Blues were one of the first fix expansion teams in 1967, and the team that showed the most success first among the six new teams, but I don't know. When I think hockey, I do not think St. Louis.
My conclusion? Vancouver. I don't know what it is, but I never feel annoyed or bored with the fact that a Vancouver Canucks game was on television. Maybe it's because I hear how beautiful British Columbia is. Maybe it's because I think Mark Donnelly performs the best national anthem I've ever seen or heard in sports. Or maybe it's because Vancouver is, historically, and underdog. They got the cold shoulder in 1967 when they put their bid in to get a team in the NHL because the other Canadian teams did not want to compete with another Canadian team, and probably because they thought they were better than the rest of Canada. The Canucks were still the outsiders when they joined the league in 1970, but were still determined to make a dent in the league. Underdogs.
So what do you all think? If the Pens are your first team, or your Eastern team, who do you like in the West?