Hi, Chowder. I'm going to barf some hockey feelings at you right now, so here we go.
I love this fucking sport.
I love the Bruins.
I love the feeling of walking into the building, going up the eight zillion escalators, finding and sitting in my seat. Tonight it was in the loge; the texture of those seats is so familiar, roughspun plastic gold fabric thin-stretched over metal. The same shade of gold as the Boston College Superfan shirts - which prompted we BU fans to chant "you look like seats!" at them at the BU Beanpot. I have so many memories.
The smell of the ice hits you, along with the smell of stale beer and popcorn and peanut shells on the ground; the brilliant ice that makes my eyes hurt. I had a concussion once; bright things will forever give me a headache, but ice is one thing i will suffer that for. I love our goal song and every other dumb tradition, the helmet shuffle, 11 dollar beers, our DJ and Dirty Water after a win. I love the Garden's renovations; I don't love Jeremy Jacobs, but I sure love complaining about him. It's tradition, it's familiarity. It's going to the Fours before the game, getting drunk with friends before the walk across the street.
I love it so much. This sport has brought me so many of my friends, my found family, my job. This team is so important to me. Oh sure, they're not great this year. They've made dumb management mistakes. Trading Dougie, giving out huge contracts to players that aren't worth it. But these are things that are fun to argue and bemoan, things that are ultimately harmless in the greater span of things.
It somehow doesn't feel real, that my team is a part of the greater league that's been so shitty the last few years but they are, and I wish more than anything that the league at large would figure out some sort of disciplinary system for its players, or education or whatever, so that when the shininess wears off and the reality rushes back in - that reality wouldn't be so bad.
I've spent probably thousands of dollars at this point in my life on trips that involve watching hockey around the globe, all because the Bruins showed me how fun hockey could be eight years ago. And I'm not alone. I know hundreds of women who have gotten into hockey in the last half-decade - because social media showed them the way, or their friends, or whatever. Women make up a bigger part of the NHL fanbase now than ever, and we're not going away.
Why would we? The game is dramatic and fun, addictive from the first moment; celebrating a goal with 17,000+ other fans is intoxicating. Celebrating a Stanley Cup win is even more so. We're human beings, and part of the human experience is community, and what better community than one that gets to celebrate?
I didn't think I'd be that excited about attending a preseason game. I wasn't that excited until I got into the building, to be honest. I donned my jersey, went to the Fours, and wasn't feeling it. But I crossed that threshold, found my seat, figured out the lineup, and something clicked into place. It felt right. It felt good. And then David Pastrnak scored in overtime, and I yelled with everyone around me, and it felt right. It felt like something I want to keep experiencing, something I don't want taken away from me. Why should it be taken away from me?
So I'm sorry if you don't like seeing things about social issues on this website; I'm sorry for you, truly I am. But I refuse to back down from this. I refuse to give up and let a toxic culture continue to be as pervasive as it's been. I refuse to sit by and stay passive as the number of victims of rape and abuse by men in this domain I'm a part of grows...and grows...and grows. You're going to continue to hear me and others on this site talk about it; you're going to continue to listen to us fight back and defend victims and work through our weird feelings about hockey, because hockey is great. Hockey should be for everyone, and right now it's not.
I almost gave up this summer, but it's sucked me right back in, and I refuse to stop fighting for this sport that I love probably more than I should.