I get asked pretty often how a guy who grew up in Kentucky, where basketball is king, became a hockey fan. Today it’s fairly easy to do with the Nashville Predators being a premier team in the NHL but when I was growing up the Preds were still new and you never saw them on TV.

I don’t know exactly how it started but I remember being 9 years old and looking forward to watching ESPN National Hockey Night on Wednesday nights. I had one other friend in school who kept up with it too and we’d talk about who was playing that night and who we thought would win. Me and him would get the other kids to play hockey with us during recess with a wad of paper for a puck and our legs as sticks. Looking back now it was basically what soccer looks like in third world countries. We called it Hockey. Shut up.

That friend is now heavily involved in drugs.

Neat how times change.

My first love was the Detroit Red Wings. Probably because they were always on TV. As they should have been, that eventual Stanley Cup Champion team, had NINE future Hall of Famers on it. Not a bad time to start watching hockey and not a bad team to pick as your favorite. I still have framed cartoon like pictures of every key player on that team.

I should probably look into selling those and see if I can pay off my house.

I went to my first hockey game January 26th, 2002 for my birthday. Nashville Predators versus the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Preds lost 3-1. It didn’t matter though, I was a lifer from then on.

Eventually I bought my first hockey stick and was ripping slappers with my friends in town. Coincidentally the guy who usually played goalie, with no pads or helmet, was the same one who snuck in my dm’s back in 2013. I hold myself responsible for his brain damage.

I never played in an organized hockey game. The closest thing you could get was roller hockey in a town 45 minutes from where I lived. What I knew about hockey was what I learned from watching games on TV and the half assed attempts to play it in the streets.

As time passed on, I left the Red Wings behind and went all in on the Predators. The environment they built and the level of hockey they produced was intoxicating. It still is. Smashville has grown beyond what I think anyone expected. It’s now easily the greatest environment in the NHL.

If you’ve never been to a hockey game of any sort, let me give you a small idea as to what you’re missing.

  • Grown men skating 20 mph then pulverizing each other against the boards or, even better, a monstrous open ice hit.
  • The exhilarating feeling of your team pulling their goalie in the final seconds of a game, then netting the game tying goal to send the game to sudden death overtime.
  • Players laying their lives on the line for their team by diving in front of a 100 mph slap shot.
  • Guys who catch a puck to the mouth, pull their teeth out on the bench, and are ready to go for their next shift.
  • Non stop action. No free throws, huddles, or pitchers scratching their ass.
  • Full on, bare knuckle, fist fights.

Hockey is the manliest team sport that exists. If you haven’t been to a game, get to one. It will change your life. If you can’t get to a Preds game go see a minor league team. You can sit a little closer to the ice for cheap and those guys throw knucks and lay cannon ball bangs on the reg trying to impress the big league clubs looking for a rough and rowdy enforcer.

Take the fam. Have a big time. Thank me later.