Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A free agent fan picks his first favorite hockey team, part I

-- by @Josh_Suchon

The hockey lockout is over. That means it’s time for me to get serious about selecting my favorite hockey team. I’ve never had a favorite hockey team. I’ve never followed the sport much. But it’s one of the items on my list of “40 things to do before turning 40 years old” and it’s time to do it.

Picking a favorite team from scratch isn’t easy. I want to do it for the right reason. I don’t want to take the easy way out. I don’t want to dis-own my team after a couple seasons. I want this decision to be for life. I want to have a unique connection to my new favorite hockey team.

I started the process by eliminating teams for various principles. Here is that list:

Eliminated because I’m a proud Californian who can’t possibly like teams from these cities (5): NY Rangers, Philadelphia, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Boston.

Eliminated because the city is lame (3): Columbus, Buffalo, Sunrise/Florida.

Eliminated because the NHL shouldn’t have a team in that city (3): Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Carolina.

Eliminated because they already have enough fans and don’t need any more (3): Detroit, Montreal, Toronto.

Eliminated because one of my good friends already loves that team for whatever reason, and I want to be unique around here, and I want to talk shit when my teams plays his team (2): St. Louis, Vancouver.

Eliminated because my St. Louis Blues fan friend would never talk to me again if I picked that team (1): Chicago.

Eliminated because they just won the Stanley Cup, so if I pick them, I look like the biggest Bandwagon fan ever (1): LA Kings.

Eliminated because if I’m not a LA Kings fan, I can’t pick the team down the freeway because driving on I-5 is a major pain in the ass, and I hated the fucking movie that inspired this team (1): Anaheim

Eliminated because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and I already have enough favorite teams from that region, and I don’t live there anymore, so I need to expand my horizons more (1): San Jose

That eliminated 20 of the 30 teams. So now we’re down to 10.

Out of those 10, I wrote a letter to five of them and mailed it on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. 

I won’t list which five teams are on the list here because I didn’t want the teams to know their competition. I asked each of the five finalists the same five questions:

* The most basic: why should I become a fan of your team?

* What should I expect from the team and the front office if I become a fan?

* Part of picking a new favorite hockey team is falling in love with the city and visiting there often to see my favorite team. What should I expect from the city, and what should I know about it?

* I don’t want to be associated with a bunch of idiot fans. How would you describe what most of your fans are like?

* Has your team, or any of your players, made a video for the “You Can Play Project?” If not, how come?

Yes, I want to be courted and wooed by a team. No, this isn’t a ploy to see whatever team sucks up to me the most. There are lots of factors in choosing a favorite team and whatever response I get (if any) is only one factor.

Of course, I realize that after a lengthy lockout, hockey teams will be doing everything they can to win back their fans and secure new fans. The timing is actually really good for me to pick a favorite hockey team for the first time. Still, it’s not about who sends me the most free stuff. I want to make an informed decision.

For the five teams not eliminated earlier on this list, but who did not receive letters from me in the mail, they aren’t completely out of the running. If I’m not satisfied with the response from the current Final Five, then I’ll re-open my search again.

The process has begun.

The ball, err, puck is in the hands, err, stick of five teams.

This free agent hockey fan will announce his decision a few weeks into the season.

To be continued …

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