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It's hard work to be a hockey fan in the south

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Old
08-06-2007, 10:31 PM
  #1
triggrman
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It's hard work to be a hockey fan in the south

Thought this needed it's own thread so I could get more responses

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Originally Posted by triggrman View Post
Bradyfive and I were talking the other day and decided it's harder to be a fan of hockey in the south. We have to work to get our information since the local media sucks, we have to take heat from the non hockey fans we work with and then take heat from the holier than though northern fans at places like this and still stay true to hockey. We're like the Eminem of the hockey world, as good as we may be we'll never excepted by our own people or anyone else.

I've played hockey for as long as I can remember, well before the Predators and remember the years of trying to find any game around town to play even if it meant driving to BFE to play inline in a crappy rink with wooden boards that rattled when you skated over them, or on tennis courts that had huge cracks that would grab your stick or parking lots with puck patrol set-up. Even today, with only 4 sheets of ice, I can't even get my brother a spot on my ice team until someone quits (no one quits, even a guy that is going to miss the season is paying his fee to keep his roster spot, the league isn't excepting new players this season and are in fact cutting 140 players from the adult league because the sport has grown faster than the rinks.

So yeah up north were you can roll out of bed on Saturday, read your hockey news from your local paper, listen to hockey talk on the radio on the way to the rink for the Saturday afternoon game you just decided to go play in is easy. Southern fans have to work for our passion.

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08-06-2007, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by hipcheck85 View Post
Amen. I grew up in NYC where you had 3/4 Major papers covering hockey. Roller and Ice games going at all hours. After moving down here it was tough. No Roller Hockey, 1 sheet of ice at the old Ice Centennial. No NHL coverage in the Paper or TV.
We have come a long way!!!!
Now, we're caught up, comments?

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08-06-2007, 10:48 PM
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handtrick
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We don't have a sheet of ice withing 90 miles. We take our kid's hockey gear everywhere we go on vacation...upstate NY in the summer, Colorado in the winter, and many overnights in Nashville. We let them play on ice every chance we get, but it's still not enough. They all play inline, but already a couple of them are being drawn to soccer and baseball, that all their friends participate in.

I don't think I have worked harder at anything family-wise than getting them exposure to hockey.

Oh yea...... I didn't even mention the 300 mile round trip that we drive to all 41+ Predator home games that we all go to [for those non-Pred fans that might not know that factoid about us].

For those of you that might take your neighborhood ice rink for granted......DON'T.

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08-07-2007, 08:33 AM
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I was born and raised in the South. I had been ice skating once and succeeded in checking out the entire ice surface while remaining on it instead of my skates. (Not very coordinated - can you tell?)

I have followed sports all of my life (and I am OLD) but nothing excited me more than seeing my first EVER NHL hockey game on October 16, 1999. I had no clue what was happening but fell in love with the game that first time. I made it a point to learn anything and everything I could about this new game.

I now consider myself a hockey fanatic. I go to all kinds of hockey games (high school, college, SPHL, ECHL, CHL, AHL and NHL). I take road trips to watch hockey whether it's my Predators or any other team - it doesn't matter - it's hockey. I've been known to drive 4.5 hours one way - watch a game - then turn around and drive back home.

There is nothing better than walking into a arena and smelling the ice - knowing a hockey game or practice is happening soon.

I have to thank all of you who have been patient with me in your attempts to teach me this fantastic game. I think I learn something new each and every day. Again, thank you.

***Now a little rant***

To those who profess to love the game of hockey but do not want the game in non-traditional markets and to not grow throughout the world - I say that you DO NOT truly love the game. If you did, you would want non-traditional markets to succeed. You would want this great sport to become the most popular in the world - not be exclusive to a particular region of the world.

**end of mild rant***

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08-07-2007, 09:26 AM
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It can be tough. I remember years ago when I lived in Birmingham we lost our only rink for a year. My parents drove me back and forth an hour and a half each way to play in Huntsville and Decatur that season. I STILL owe them for that.

It's a reminder how lucky we are in Huntsville. Minor league pro team, div I college team, 4 sheets of ice within 30 minutes.

Trig, if your brother can stand the drive, there's usually always room in either of the leagues down here.

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08-07-2007, 09:34 AM
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I guess I'm the lucky one...

I'm originally from Buffalo, New York (hopefully moving back soon!)
Hockey was everywhere when I was a kid. Our high school had Frosh, J.V. and Varsity hockey. We had squirt, pee wee, midget, bantam, bantam 'A' (travel team!), and then junior 'b' (the Junior Sabres)...all of the Sabres games were televised on t.v. since cable first came the area, Cablevision channel 10, with the bad graphics, poor sound, and Ted Darling...My first savings account, 10 years old, 1980, and the banker gave me a stuffed animal buffalo - and a blue, road, Sabres jersey!
I guess reading all your posts I see how spolied I was. I can admit that in the back of my mind I kind of look at the business model of 'if it doesn't work financially in an area, then let it go to an area that it does'. But, then again, you read about how in your area its booming (recreationally at least), and people can't get a game on a sheet as there is not enough space...
As far as hockey in the south, some of the most entertaining games I've gone to were the two Fayetteville FireAntz SPHL games in 2005, fall. That small little arena was kind of 'cute' (can it be possible? But, after so many games I saw at the RBC in Raleigh, a mecca, this little bowl was so quaint...) and was literally 'packed' with fans in jerseys, and tons of kids! Maybe 2,200 - 2,500 on the FRI and SAT games. (But, I'm guessing...it may have just seemed packed, as your so close to the ice, and its so loud in there.) The point being that if you can get these small towns so into the sport/team - even with the tag - team/TNA/WWE style stuff that goes on during the game at times - you can build a huge base and following in a winning town sound as Nashville. Once you guys win the cup/go deep in the playoffs, all this past talk of 'not making it' will be a memory...
Oh - I also went to two TB Lightning games, packed, and it was tough to get seats! I think they do well down there supporting them (?)
Long winded, but your posts really touched me somewhat...I'm glad things are finally looking up for you guys!

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08-07-2007, 10:06 AM
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This all doesn't sound that far off from growing up in Wisconsin. You'd get the standings and a list of scores just about everyday in the local paper for the IHL and NHL, Sundays you'd get the WCHA standings. Then we'd get the Milwaukee paper and there would at least be a few blurbs about NHL games and the usual MilAds write-up a few pages in.

Most of my hockey news, pre-internet, had come from picking up the weekly/monthly publications around the various arenas where I played. "Hockey Digest", "Let's Play Hockey", "Sporting News", I think there was a "Pro Hockey Weekly" that was laying about at one of the rinks near Green Bay.

Not much hockey on TV save for the glory days of ESPN with Tom Meese in the pre SCA days. The MilAds didn't get much air time outside of the occassional Friday night game and 20 second clip on the 10 o'clock news.

Although, there was a stretch back when the Bradley Center opened, 1988, when there was quite a buzz. The IHL was pretty much entering its little hayday and there were talks of NHL expansion along with all of the college tournements and the success of the UW men's program. All this began to fade about 1992/93.

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08-07-2007, 10:12 AM
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I've lived in the south for all of my life and I actually didn't know about a single NHL hockey team until I moved to Nashville two years ago and attended my first game. I lived in Charleston most of my life, which happens to be right smack dab in the middle between the Hurricanes and the Thrashers (about a 6 hour drive in either direction) but there was nothing advertised or said about either team. Sure, there's a little blurb about hockey every once in a while in the paper and box scores, but there isn't much else hockey-wise. Even the ECHL team that we had wasn't advertised very well until the attendance was down and then the deals were out there.

Once I came here and saw how exciting hockey was, and is, I can't get enough of it. I had a partial season ticket last year and would have upgraded to the full if it wasn't for being accepted into graduate school. Now I have my XM radio and plan on listening to as many games as possible. And if I have money, I may be able to see at least one Lightning game. But I have a feeling that hockey will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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08-07-2007, 10:19 AM
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You can't get hockey publications around here, unless you subscribe to them. Even then, the best of the bunch (Hockey News), is late with every issue.....making it virtually pointless to subscribe unless you want the hockey yearbook and yearly prospect handbook. It is tough here in the south. There is no doubt about it, and handtrick's example of his family is a perfect picture of the amount of effort it can take to raise your kids playing hockey (and he did not even mention the financial side of all the effort he puts in).

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08-07-2007, 11:49 AM
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Trig, it may not do any good...but send an email or letter to the Preds, Southern Ice, and the Sportsplex. All three know how important it is that people are PLAYING hockey in addition to just watching it, and I think they'd be interested to know that there are people out there who want to play but can't. I recently moved back to Nashville, and would love to play...but I don't even know who to talk to about it anymore.

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08-07-2007, 01:04 PM
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Being a hockey fan is an act of love no matter where you happen to live. Even in the larger metropolitan centers the sport takes a back seat to the NFL and NBA when it comes to coverage. If you happen to live in a more remote area and try to follow a team it can be a royal pain in the rear. Many of us have made long drives just to see our team play, some of us have watched junior hockey in north Texas just to see some live action.

Never take the opportunity to see the game live for granted. Enjoy every chance to get out on a sheet of ice and bust your butt as you try to skate.

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08-07-2007, 02:01 PM
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What's funny is that exponential growth of rinks in Nashville. What I find amazing is that I live right now in Southwest NY state and there are about 2 rinks in my area where as in Nashvile there are 4-5 in HALF the radius and more planning on being built. What's going to be funny is when the TSSAA gets involved an has a sanctioned High School league....

Which they will immediately screw up but that is the nature of state run organizations.

I believe for the TSSAA to recognize a sport there must be 30-50 HS teams in the state. I can tell you right now if Chattanooga builds a rink there will pop up 6 teams (THinking about the big public and private schools; McCallie, Baylor (BOOOOOOOOOOO!), Notre Dame, Boyd Buchanan, ETC) also might be a chance to see N. Georgia schools get involved too.

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08-07-2007, 02:33 PM
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Wow. And my rant was the lack of news coverage on the sport growing up pre-internet boom.

As far as rinks, in WI, I spent some of my formative years on outdoor rinks until the town I lived in built an indoor facility - I know that may not translate well to those in the South. There were a few games as a kid where we played the third period in shoes in the midday sun. There were also games where we split periods into two halves so we could get into the warming house more frequently. In the mid 90s, there was a boom of indoor facilities around Eastern WI, particularly around Greater Milwaukee, until that point there were about a dozen facilities w/in a hour and one-half from me. Since the mid 90s there are better than two dozen rinks w/in that same radius and the amount of participating high schools has nearly tripled state-wide. Now, I find it troublesome since the facility closest to me doesn't have summer ice.

Don't mean to rub it in, never realized what hockey life must be in TN.

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08-07-2007, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomorekids View Post
Trig, it may not do any good...but send an email or letter to the Preds, Southern Ice, and the Sportsplex. All three know how important it is that people are PLAYING hockey in addition to just watching it, and I think they'd be interested to know that there are people out there who want to play but can't. I recently moved back to Nashville, and would love to play...but I don't even know who to talk to about it anymore.
call ryan (the hockey director) at southern ice, there is plenty of room on the adult league. 771-2444

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08-07-2007, 06:19 PM
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triggrman
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08-08-2007, 05:46 AM
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I thought Hendersonville was supposed to be building a new rink? But I never hear anything about where it will be or when they're going to build it. We desperately need a rink up here. With 4 HS teams (Hendersonville, PopeJohnPaulII, Station Camp, Beech) it's hard for them all to get ice time, and it's 30 minutes just to Centennial, at least 45 to Southern Ice, not good when you play games that start at 11pm, on weekdays. I watched HS hockey during the lockout, and it was fun. I went to a game and as the game was nearing the end the students from the next game were starting to arrive. Once the HHS game was over and fans had cleared out (2 parents almost got into a fight in the stands!), the students of the next game (I think MBA) were running in to try to get a good spot. They were dancing around and the band was playing just waiting for the game to start. It was the 3rd game of the night and everyone was still having a great time. HS hockey is just exploding in Tennessee and all over the South.


It is hard being a fan down here. I read the sports now in like 2 minutes. I don't care about the Titans or golf or racing or fishing. I get excited when there's a blurb in the "Briefly" section or on Monday when the Preds Notebook is in there. I read the Hockey News in one day because I'm so desperate for any news during the offseason (though I never realized they were so canada-centric). It's football training camp time, but listen to the radio and when callers call in to talk about the Titans, about half of them say thanks to 104 for the Preds rally before asking their question. We're trying here. It's going to take time, it's not immediate. But if given the time, and the right people in charge, it can be great. Remember the first playoffs against Detroit? After game 4 when we tied the series, people were literally running down the escalators and from out of the seating sections to the ticket boxes for tickets to game 6. The lockout was at the worst time for us. But then this past season, things were starting to turn around, slowly. If we can somehow get to at least round 2 of the playoffs this season, coupled with the "they're OUR team damn it and you won't take them" rallying cry, we'll see a different attitude the next year I believe. And what does it say about our city when our very own players are buying season tickets in an effort to help the team stay here. They don't want to move, they want to stay here. The players themselves say they have never heard anyone say anything bad about their time here.




Quote:
To those who profess to love the game of hockey but do not want the game in non-traditional markets and to not grow throughout the world - I say that you DO NOT truly love the game. If you did, you would want non-traditional markets to succeed. You would want this great sport to become the most popular in the world - not be exclusive to a particular region of the world.
That's right. I always question this line of thinking. People in Canada wonder why hockey isn't as popular, or why peope won't watch on TV. Yet, in the same breath they want to rip all Southern/non-traditional (except Dallas for some reason) teams away and move them back to Canada. Well, they can't have it both ways. Either you support the growth of the game and therefore support nontraditional markets establishing history and fanbases OR you want to have a Canada only league. People are always happy to hear about countries opening their first rinks and having their first team playing in an international tournament. But then when we try to grow the game, we get ridiculed. It's like, Jewish hockey team, great! New rinks in Japan or Mexico, great! Hockey in the southern US, apocolypse now!!

Another thing I don't get, is why it's such a big deal that we may have other interests outside of hockey. A lot of people like Nascar. Who cares? What the hell does that have to do with anyones ability to be a hockey fan? Personally I don't get the point of watching advertisments going around in a circle for 3 hours but others like it, so good for them. So I like football. Wait, no I LOVE football. Sunday was/will be all about the Steelers (I heart Big Ben ). And I love watching college football on Saturdays. And I love baseball, it's hard being a Pirates fan, but I love watching them. Why is it so bad that we grew up where it's warmer longer and we can do more things outside for longer? What is it about liking those sports that will somehow hinder my ability to be a hockey fan?




This whole sale situation thing opened my eyes. When we had the Knights I used to think it was cool when I met someone from Canada or that liked hockey. I'd be like, we have minor league hockey, it's great. And they would think that was great. I loved watching HNIC/AfterHours, and seeing TML here was really just so cool. Now though, to see what some have said, it's disgusting. I don't understand why minor league teams in the South are OK, but NHL, it's like a sin against the world. Why should our geographical location make us less "deserving of the priveledge of having a team"? I really dispise those people now and while I would never wish a team to outright fail (I fear the karma) I do hope we beat them everytime. Honestly, the Oiler fans seemed to be the most sympathetic to us, and some of the SenaPred alliance (of course there are others out there from every other team and I really do appreciate them, esp Pens!). But everyone else, screw 'em. If I wasn't such a big hockey fan, the amount of vitriol spewed towards me and my city would be enough to turn me off of the game all together.

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08-09-2007, 10:08 AM
  #17
AdmiralPred
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Originally Posted by spank303 View Post
I thought Hendersonville was supposed to be building a new rink? But I never hear anything about where it will be or when they're going to build it. We desperately need a rink up here. With 4 HS teams (Hendersonville, PopeJohnPaulII, Station Camp, Beech) it's hard for them all to get ice time, *CUT*
That can't be Kris Beech HS.

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