Friday, July 6, 2012

I've become that fan!

Everybody knows that sports fan.  The one that rearranges their schedule to watch the games.  They start every conversation with - do you see how the _________ played last night?  Important days go by the wayside because they are too involved in what is happening with their team.  The primary color of their wardrobe is the colors of their team.  I used to make fun of these people.  And then I experienced the last couple months.

It's been about two months since the Flyer's lost game 5.  For the first week almost everyone who knows has started out the conversations with - "I'm sorry about the Flyers" as if I had lost somebody close to me.  And in a way I have.  From October to April (hopefully May & June as well), the Orange and Black take up alot of my free time.  From checking twitter feeds on game days, going to games, watching them on TV, discussing them afterwards, the Flyers are like a family member.  A family member who drives me crazy most days and causes all sorts of tension on our household but a very loved family member.

But the Flyers are really starting to permeate more than just October to April (or May and June).  They have started to influence how we plan family vacations.  For the past four years, our family has gone down to Disney World around the last week in June.  We go at this time and not earlier because the Stanley Cup Finals are usually still being played in the beginning of June and if the Flyers are in it, we don't want to miss it (In 2010 this theory actually worked).  And at least for one of the days, I make my whole family wear Flyers shirts and I get pictures taken.  I always have plans for these pictures to be used for Christmas cards but it doesn't always happen!  And when you walk through Disney with matching Flyers shirts you know who is from Philly because they all say something when you walk by - it's pretty cool.

But where my true devotion to the Flyers seem to have won out over everything else in my life is July 1, 2012.  July 1 is Canada day for our neighbors to the north.  July 1 is also the start of Free Agency in hockey.  This past July 1, I went down to Philly to visit my Cousin's new baby who had just been born the night before.  Generally, I like to check my twitter often on this day to find out what moves the Flyers have made as well as moves the other teams have made.  Well, on this particular July 1, I left my phone on the kitchen table (which I NEVER do) so I couldn't check anything until I got home later that day.  I was so preoccupied by my missing phone and not being able to check what was happening in free agency that I forgot that it was a very important day.  July 1 is also my anniversary.  I didn't remember it until the 3rd.

So, sports don't just make husbands forget birthdays and anniversary's and other important days, it happens to us girls as well.  And as I sit here writing this post in my orange shirt that I got at one of the playoff games this past year, I have finally accepted the sad truth - I am that fan!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Day after the Night Before

Another season - no Stanley Cup.  It's been 37 years since the Flyer's had a parade down Broad Street.  I'm sad today because there was so much hope with this team.  But I'm also hopeful for the future.  In a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Flyers made it to the second round of the Playoffs.  They put the Pittsburgh Penguins in their place - on the golf course in mid-April.  We got to see Claude Giroux come into his own and that in itself was a joy to behold.  We have a core of young players who were christened in their first Stanley Cup playoffs.  Next year they will know better what to expect and they have an idea of how hard it really is - to win an additional 16 games after playing an 82 game season.  Most nights we got to see the most dynamic offense in the NHL.  We got to see Jagr in Flyer's Orange and Black and on opening night - that in itself was worth the price of admission!
There were downsides - Bryzgalov's play was inconsistent at best and sometimes non-existent.  But he is one of the most entertaining athlete that has been in Philly in a long time.  No one knew what was going to come out of his mouth on any given night - from being lost in the woods to the size of the universe to not saying anything at all - he was always a story.  He also has the potential to be a fantastic goalie as we saw during his shutout streak.  Chris Pronger was a huge loss for the team.  I just hope he gets healthy and if he can play again - I as a fan will welcome him with open arms.
I didn't like how it ended - no fan likes to see their team thoroughly outplayed.  But come this fall - I will break out the Orange and Black clothing, go down to the Center and hope the 38 year is the charm and I will finally get to that parade. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Promised Land of Girouxsalem

April 22, 2012 was a good day to be a Flyer's fan - Game 6 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I was down at the Center, nervously waiting for the puck to drop with friends I had brought to the game.  God Bless America was sung and I knew they were going to win that game.  The whistle blew, the puck dropped, and Claude Giroux leveled Sidney Crosby and scored a goal all in the first 30 seconds of the game.  The Flyers didn't take their foot off the gas the rest of the game and we beat the Pens 5-1 and won the series 4-2.  Claude Giroux and the Flyers were supposed to take us as fans to the promised land of Girouxsalem - winning the Stanley Cup.

The Flyers had a full week off between their final game and their first one against the New Jersey Devils.  I knew this would be a challenging series because any team that makes it to the second round is playing pretty well.  But ultimately I thought we would do pretty well and win in 5.  I based this on their regular season play against the Devils - we went 3-3 against them with 2 shutouts and losing one in a shootout.  Plus the Devils has just come off a challenging series against the Florida Panthers, winning Game 7 in a double overtime.  We were the fresher team and an offensive Juggernaut plus we had Orange Jesus himself, Claude Giroux on our side.

Through the first four games of this series, the Flyers have managed to play awful hockey and are down 3-1.  The Flyers look like they are the team who went 7 and played a double overtime in the last series.  Our forecheck has been non-existent and we look slow.  The Devils have been quicker to the puck and have taken advantage.  We look very much like the team that I wrote about in the post "My Heart Hurts."

Tonight will be a REALLY tough night.  Giroux is suspended for a head shot on Danius Zubrus (I think the suspension is bogus - not because it wasn't a head shot but because much more egregious head shots have happened throughout these playoffs and not been called on the ice or disciplined further off it - yes Malkin I'm referring to you).  This is not a good thing.  But it may bring just the level of desperation that the Flyers need to play their game.  And if the Flyers play THEIR game and not the Devils game, they can win tonight and the next two as well.  Hockey is the ultimate team sport and the Flyers when playing as a team does it as well if not better than any other in the NHL.

Rich likes to say there is no moral victories in hockey especially in the playoffs.  A win is a win, a loss is a loss and if the Flyers don't win the Cup ultimately the season is a disappointment.  The Flyers have never done anything easy.  It's not easy being a fan of this team - they can take you so high and drop you so low so quickly.  But I'm not ready for this to be over - and I don't think the Flyer's are either - so Tonight's Gonna be a Good Night

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Hearts Hurts

It's been difficult to watch this incarnation of the Philadelphia Flyers. They started out the season with so much promise. The had a historically good goaltender, they had tremendous offensive talent and they were solid on the blue line. The blockbuster deals that sent away the cornerstone of our team over the last few season (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter) gave way to the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Vezina candidate goalie from Phoenix, who was supposed to save the goalie carrousel that we have been experiencing the last few years. Eight months has past since those trades. Richards and Carter have been reunited in LA (along with Simon Gagne) and the Flyers look like some incarnation of a ECHL team with a goalie who belongs on a mighty mites team that plays during intermission. And Chris Pronger, who was the glue needed to hold this team together, has been sidelined with a concussion that may end his hockey career.

I know not every game goes our way. But the way this team is playing is simply unacceptable. Briere hasn't scored a goal in 15 games. Giroux, although playing well, is no playing anywhere near the level he played at the beginning of the season. Scoring from the rookies has dried up. Our goaltending is atrocious at best, disappearing whenever it is needed most. Defensively, turnovers and poor passing have been the norm. Peter Laviolette can't seem to adapt during a game and make changes on the fly. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually John Stevens behind the bench wearing a Lavy mask.

I just don't know who this team is. I don't want to know this version of the Flyers. I want to see a team that plays with pride and fights until the last minute expires. That's the Flyer's team thats missing. And that's why my heart hurts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A non-hockey post (at least mostly)

Most of my life all I wanted to do is work for my family business. We owned a millwork company tha supplied products to new construction. It is in my blood - my father owned a millwork, my grandfather owned a millwork, my great-grandfather owned a millwork - you can get the picture. Before I got my chance to buy said millwork from my father, the economy tanked, the housing market blew-up and it made sense to close the business. I had a running joke whole working - if anything ever happened to the company , I was going to go to beauty school. While after a few years spent closing the business, it was time for me to move on. So I decided to go to beauty school - I entered a program to become an esthetician. I just started this week - yay me!
While I was commuting to the school this morning, I was driving throughn a delgue which was preceded by three days of rain. I was twenty minutes into my ride when I found out the school was closed due to the rain. As I was driving home, I was reminded of a day about ten years ago at work where we had a similar rainstorm. The creek behind our warehouse jumped the creek and our warehouse flooded. As I was driving, I had the immense sense of relief that I didn't have to worry aout things like that anymore. I got home and I decided to go down to the basement to see if there was any water (i had never had water in my basement before so I wasn't too worried) only to find about 5 inches of water in my basement. Not just a puddle but 5 inches over the whole floor! After finding a sump pump at Home Depot ( not an easy feat with all the flooding around here) and a call to the local fire department to get them to pump my basement, I am on my way to a drier basement. I am still waiting for the fire comp may to come - but they told me it was going to be late - I was 20th on their list!
But in all my misery and frustration, I got an email from the Flyers to save the date for the Early-Bird BBQ - so at least I had a silver (or orange and black) lining at the end of a pretty crappy day!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Sad Off-Season

Our season tickets arrived yesterday and it got me to thinking about the off-season.  It's been an unusual off-season in hockey.  The season ends mid-June when the Stanley Cup finds a home with the winner of a grueling hockey season.  A couple weeks later the NHL draft occurs followed by the opening of free agency on July 1st.  After that there are a few stories, some of them interesting, most of them not.  As a Flyers fan it was a really interesting off-season because of the rooster moves and the goalie signing.  Not to mention the various post about the many statistics analyzing the moves and declaring every team a winner except the Flyers.  Then there was the speculation every couple weeks about Sidney Crosby and whether he would return to the NHL after suffering 2 concussions within days of each other in January.  This lead to the stories about head shots and would the NHL ever get serious about enforcing and/or eliminating them in hockey.
Interspersed in these stories were three very sad stories about three hockey players who left this world before their time. Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak, three enforces, all died this summer under questionable circumstances.  Boogaard died after taking a cocktail of alcohol and painkillers. Rypien was found died in his home in Alberta.  He had been battling depression for 10 years and had taken two leaves of absence from the game over the last few seasons.  Belak was also found dead in Toronto of an apparent suicide.  These guys were all enforcers on there teams which lead to articles questioning the role of fighting and the need for an enforcer in the game.
But by far the saddest story of the off-season came earlier today.  43 members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinetial Hockey League (KHL) in Russia were killed when their place crashed on take-off.  They were on their way to the first game of the season.  Some of the members were former NHL players but they were all part of the hockey world.  They were fathers and sons and husbands and friends who lost their lives in what is most likely the worst accident in all of professional sports.
As Flyers fans are complaining about not getting Winter Classic tickets as part of their season ticket package, there are people in Russia mourning the loss of their team.  While we are anxiously awaiting the start of our season, they will have to make funeral arrangements.  I did not follow the KHL and aside from a few names (players from the NHL), I did not recognize most of the people who died.
It's been a sad off-season.  There has been so much tragedy and loss.  But the game will go on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Folding the Flyers Laundry (my laundry - not theirs!)

Today I was doing laundry and I got a little sad. First I folded a Richards t-shirt, then my Boosh shirt. Finally I was going through my daughters shirts and I found her Gagne t-shirt, her Carter sweatshirt and her Carter jersey. I remember the game where I bought her the jersey. Ironically it was against the Columbus Blue Jackets. We were winning the game but Columbus was playing well and had scored a few goals. I said to Mary while waiting for a face-off, we really needed to score. Mary, who was 7 at the time and believes that she has wizard powers, said "don't worry Mom, I've got this covered." Then she looked like she threw something out on the ice. I looked at her and said "what did you do?". She said very matter of factly "I threw magic Flyer dust on the ice.". Carter bent down to take the face-off and scored right off the face-off. At that moment she had the most incredulous look on her face as if she couldn't believe her magic worked. She screamed and jumped out of her seat to celebrate the goal, which was her favorite part of going to games, hearing the goal horn followed by Bro-Hymn (which has since been changed). But at that moment, Jeff Carter became her favorite player. After the game, we went down to Fan Gear, as we do after every game she goes to, and she ran up to the Carter jersey and asked for it. So being a sucker for both my daughter and the Flyers, I bought I for her. I figured she would get years of use out of it because it was a youth large and I didn't think Carter was going anywhere for a long time. When I found out Carter was traded, my first reaction was "how am I going to tell Mary?". Luckly we were at Disney and although she was visibly upset, at least she could go see Mickey and he would make it all better! It wasn't much easier to tell Rich about the Richards trade 35 minutes later.
But now we have another collection of gear of players who are no longer on the team - 2 Richards' jersey (at least one is signed and I can hang it up), 2 Carter jerseys, 2 Gagne jerseys, 2 Richards t-shirts, 1 Carter t-shirt and a really nice Carter sweatshirt.  So in 35 minutes, hundreds of dollars of Flyers gear became obsolete!
As a fan of professional sports teams, I realize this is part of the game.  Especially in a cap era where athletes are being paid outlandish sums of money.  I had to go through this with the Lindros fiasco, the Gagne trade and now Richards/Carter trades.  But when it comes down to it, I am a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers.  I may not always like the decisions they make, I may not always think they are right, but they are still the Flyers.  The Bullies of the Seventies, the teams in the Eighties, the Lindros Era, all of these teams have had their time and then it's gone and new players emerge.  That's the deal in sports.  That's why there are people at those games that have season tickets dating back to 1967, because they are a fan of the team and the sport.  It hurts like hell when your favorite play is gone.  And it's weird when they come back into the building to play in a different uniform.  I still like Gagne, Carter and Richards.  And I want them to do well - unless they are playing against my Flyers.