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On The Blessings Of Early Starts

As the Bruins step into a 1pm FO for Columbus Day v Colorado, Paul Wheeler tells us just why European NHL fans live for US high days and holidays in the NHL season.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Boston.

Imagine it's noon on Columbus Day. You likely spent an extra little while in bed Monday morning, enjoying the feeling of a holiday. You probably casually prepared lunch, or lazily planned to roll out to a bar and spend a lovely sunny fall afternoon watching the Bruins face off against the Avalanche at 1pm. Maybe you winced a little on the Bruins behalf at the early start and thinking "we wouldn't want this all the's weird."

Here in Coventry, UK, on the other side of the Atlantic, it's already gone 5pm, and the rain is hitting the outside windows of my apartment like the fist of an angry god.

And as an British NHL fan, I wish that every NHL day was like today. Columbus Day. Or Thanksgiving. Or New Years. Or MLK Day, or Veteran's Day, or any American public holiday.

Because for us Brits, it means that we actually get to watch NHL hockey when the rest of the world is awake.

It's often a long, lonely life being a European NHL fan. With the nearest arena a good 4,000 miles away and a ruddy great ocean in between, there's no chance of us nipping down the rink to watch our favourite NHL squad. As for watching most live games? That requires the patience of a saint, a whole lot of coffee and a very understanding rest of the family, since your average East Coast NHL game starts at midnight and if you're wanting to watch a team in the Pacific timezone...well, settle into your Snuggie on the sofa and drink one hell of a lot of coffee, cause your average game starts at 3:30am. These are all GMT, by the on mainland Europe and you can add an hour or two to those times.

When you spend your life like us Europeans, having to forgo sleep if you actually want to watch your favourite sport live in a way that most NHL fans in North America only have to experience during the Olympics or maybe during international championships every other year, you learn to savour these early games. You particularly learn to savour them when you've experierced getting up for work after a 6am West Coast OT finish and seen Americans on your Twitter feed complaining about a game going towards midnight.

So, if you're watching these early games in your Columbus Day haze and finding it a bit weird or even annoying that you're seeing hockey a bit early in your day, spare a thought for us Brits.

This is one of the few nights a year we get to watch "our" sport live in a hockey outpost without being looked at like weird cave-dwelling sports vampires by most of our friends.

It's tough being an NHL fan in Europe...but we wouldn't change it for the world.