O.k. that's not entirely true, I know the rules of the game, most of the teams (I always forget about the Atlanta and Columbus teams), and some of the players, mostly the ones that are still around from the early to mid-nineties like Jeremy Roenick, Martin Brodeur, Teemu Selanne, and about half of the Red Wings current roster, (I'm always amazed how long hockey players can play at a high level, I bet somewhere Guy Lafleur is watching the NHL this season and thinking "Hey, I could still hang with these guy.") but my overall knowledge of the current NHL is limited at best. I mean I could probably name more LPGA golfers than NHL players and I hate golf AND women.
I haven't always been disinterested in the NHL, in fact between the ages of 10 and 14 hockey stood on equal ground with baseball and football, and was slightly ahead of basketball in my eyes. I used to be able to name the top 3 lines on every NHL team, (which I did, I remember sitting in class during 7th grade and filling up my notebook with lists of NHL lines, baseball lineups, NBA starting lineups, and the like, it goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyways) that this wasn't the most productive time period in my life.), play NHL '93, '94, and '95 religiously, watch Hockey Night in Canada with Don Cherry on CBC, own multiple NHL jerseys, my favorite being the old Buffalo Sabres blue uniform with the crossed swords, and play roller hockey in the parking lot of the church at the end of my until the sun went down or until some white trash kid playing in tennis shoes goaded one of my friends into a fight, whichever happened first. I never was a die hard Wings fan during this time, I probably followed them closer than any other team due to mere proximity but I wasn't living and dying with every Wings success or failure. I didn't want to see Tim Cheveldae's head on a stick, or to continually bitch about whatever everyone hated Fedorov for at the moment, I just followed the players that I liked on an individual basis (Jeremy Roenick, Wendell Clark and Theo Fleury) and kept my eye on a few teams I arbitrarily liked for reasons unbeknownst to even myself, namely the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Islanders, (I remember investing heavily in Eric Fichaud rookie cards and telling everyone who would listen that he was the second coming of Patrick Roy, and if you just read that and thought, "Who the hell is Eric Fichaud?", then I don't need to tell you how that investment turned out).
Then I just stopped caring. I don't know why it happened but it did. I stopped playing roller hockey, stopped buying the NHL series of video games, stopped buying hockey cards, I even shaved my wispy moustache and cut my mullet. (Oh come on! You know I couldn't make it through a post about hockey without making the stereotypical, cheapshot, hack joke about Canadian hockey fans, I was literally shaking with anticipation, or delirium tremens but whose counting, to write that joke, but I kid, I love Canadians, they are funny, laid back, gave us Tim Horton's, The Kids in the Hall and Avril Lavigne, well not so much that last one, although her new video is........wow. O.k. I'm rambling, let's get back to the post.) The return of Terry Mills reinvigorated my passion in the Pistons and the NBA in general and the NHL barely registered on my radar during the winter months. By the time the lockout happened I was completely indifferent to the league and had little or no interest in if it returned. When it did come back the following season I was completely unaware because it was stuck on the Vs. network, which is way down in the 70's on my channel listing and I never make it that far because I'm a lazy, lazy man, and completely shunned by ESPN, which favored highlights from whatever crap league they had just acquired the rights for like the Arena Football League over the NHL.
But no more. I won't let ESPN control my sports conscience, not after they orchestrated the shutdown of one of the better blogs out there in thebiglead.com, and beat me over the head with the Don Imus/Rutgers women's basketball story for nearly a week (Seriously is Don Imus alive? He might be the scariest looking most vampire-like old man this side of Mike Ilitch and the fact that his face has been on TV for more than 5 seconds made me seriously reconsider ever turning on the television again). Most importantly, hockey is a great sport, it's fast paced, the players are skilled, it's physical (any sport that involves people getting carried off on stretchers on a semi-regular basis is o.k. with me), and they have some of the most passionate dedicated fans in the world (for an example check out any of the comments to those old NHL fight videos on YouTube where Islanders fans still call Capital fans c---rags from the Pierre Turgeon/Dale Hunter fiasco 15 YEARS AGO). So I'm throwing myself into the NHL playoffs this season. I'm excited to watch the Flames take the Wings to seven games and see the whole Wings fan base collectively contemplate mass suicide Jim Jones style, (not the "We Fly High", Jim Jones but the Peoples Temple one), watch Sidney Crosby in his playoff debut and watch my beloved Islanders take out the Buffalo Sabres in the first round in the biggest playoff upset since Arturs Irbe and......well you Wings fans know where this is going, and regrowing my moustache.......oh....sorry.....I can't help it.
My completely uneducated guess at the Finals: Canucks over the Devils in six with Roberto Luongo winning the Conn Smythe trophy and me losing interest in the playoffs by Thursday afternoon.