Wednesday, December 21, 2011

passion is the price

so last night, we attended the leafs nation fan night, because of course we did. (we both won a pair of tickets, but my pair had better seats)



it feels funny sometimes to talk about how much hockey means to me these days, especially given how i was never an athletic child and i went through the typical early-to-mid 20's goth-punk period of hating on anything sports related. but the background for my love of hockey was always there, thanks to a tomboyish childhood spent with hockey night in canada on saturday nights and a father who religiously cheered for the toronto maple leafs. (ever the rebel, i insisted on cheering for the pittsburgh penguins - and mario lemieux and jaromir jagr - instead. oh, the follies of youth.) i was the only girl who collected and traded hockey cards in elementary school. hockey was rad.

but, as i said, one's interests tend to wax and wane over the years, and i lost interest in hockey as i moved into my anime/manga/video games period (which was later supplanted by my rock band/rock star period). once i moved to toronto in my late teens, though, it was hard to ignore hockey mania -- especially since this was back when the leafs were still making the playoffs, and car horns would be blaring in celebration downtown whenever they won. so, you know, a little more interest was gained back, which came in handy once i met the hockey-crazy boy in '07. my memories of the game were a little rusty, but i still remembered the fundamentals and a number of the players, so that helped. (in fact, the first night we ever seriously hung out together - boxing day 2007 - was spent getting tanked and watching that night's leafs game at a nearby pub)

now, though, it's gone far beyond a simple bonding experience. sure, it is that - the boy and i watch almost every game together - but it was also good knowledge to have when i worked in sports marketing a few years ago; there, my love for the game basically quadrupled. ever since then, i've actively adapted a stake in my family's old loyalty: the leafs, of course. (it's common knowledge that i come from a half-leafs, half-canadiens family; this causes quite a few heated moments at family gatherings)

recently, though, i've been watching hbo's 24/7 series religiously, and there's literally nothing that makes me more delighted. it showcases these hockey players as being both characters and real people, which is something that can be lost when you only ever see them on the ice. not to draw too tenuous a connection between my old interests, but i've always had a deep love of fictional characters, and something in my brain doesn't always connect when i see people on tv. it's like they're not real, somehow. this was the same thing with rock stars -- i had a hard time mentally taking them off a pedestal.

is this weird? i'm assuming it's weird.

so when i attend things like live games, it's always something of a thrill to see these guys who've only ever existed in my television. i sadly don't see as many leafs games as i'd like, due to the insane cost of tickets, but on the rare occasion when i win tickets, then it's absolutely golden. such was the case with tuesday's fan night event, in which you had to collect various passwords from around the interwebs. the more you uncovered and entered, the better chance you had to win, and due to my persistence in entering every goddamn password i could get, i snagged tickets in the first round of draws.

our seats were this good, in fact:



that was taken without zooming in at all.  yeah, we were five rows from the ice.  as i said on twitter, i'll never be that close for a leafs game ever again. (for those unaware: platinum seats at a leafs game are like a bazillion dollars. each. also, they're mostly taken up by billionaire season ticket holders or the people who inherited those season tickets after the billionaires died)



so what fan night basically ended up being (and it was something completely different from the skills competition that we bought tickets to see last year) was a regular ol' leafs practice that lasted a little over an hour.  lots of drills, lots of fancy skating and shooting, capped off with a 15-minute scrimmage.  i couldn't help but wonder how awkward it must have been for them to have some thousands of people watching them, well, practice.



i actually found it pretty fascinating, given how insanely coordinated and planned-out their drills are.  literally, someone just needs to blow the whistle and all the guys immediately break into a skate for a few laps.  still, i'm willing to bet a larger portion of the audience found the whole thing more boring than fascinating (because seriously, it's a practice).  oh well.  leafs up close! i was a happy girl.



i admit that i spent almost the entire night ogling their hot swedish goaltender, jonas gustavsson (not pictured in the above).  thankfully his net was in our end of the arena, so i basically just stared a hole through him.  dean wasn't too impressed, ha ha.



group huddle!  (this was shortly before the guys changed jerseys for the scrimmage, and i catcalled and hollered, "WOOOO TAKE IT OFF!!")

so yes, i greatly enjoyed myself - well, until the end of the night.  see, our seats were a couple seats down from the gateway entrance where the leafs come in and out, and i was previously unaware how many human vultures (for lack of a nicer term) hang around that hallway as the team enters and leaves.  basically, asshole middle-aged men drape themselves across the gate and beg for souvenirs or autographs and just generally make obnoxious fools of themselves.  i saw one jerk whine, "come on, man! come on! can't i have that stick? just give me the stick!" and then when he got the used game stick he wanted, he immediately snatched it up and walked away, no thank yous or anything.  so gross.  wonder what it is about celebrities/athletes that reduces us to assholes and morons.

at least the boy and i finished the night on a high note:



thank you, c'est what?, for being so close to the arena. i wish i could visit you all the time.



bonus pic of the boy (he was wearing that jets t-shirt under his leafs jersey the entire night, sacrilege!), right before he grumbled something about how he hates his profile and "why you gotta do that?" (he also hates when i spontaneously snap photos of him)  hee hee hee.  i like it.

...and with that, i've officially kicked off my christmas vacation and all its festivities. i'm off work until january 3rd and i'm going to kingston early friday morning, but in between, there's going to be sushi with jenna and old housemate matthew tonight, and a movie + leafs game-watching (at our local pub, not from those platinum seats) date night with the boy on thursday. also: mundane things like workout classes (so many workout classes), finishing up my christmas shopping, doing laundry, and so on. will be back with one more blog post before christmas!

[ music | amy winehouse, "you know i'm no good" ]

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