Game On -- Two simple words signaling that something glorious was about to happen during the summers of my youth. Wayne and Garth of the movie "Wayne's World" captured the simplicity of a game of street hockey, and the joy of being with friends discussing the important things in life - girls, being in the NHL, and who was going to win the Cup (Lord Stanley's Cup)!! I know this will sound foreign to anyone that grew up in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but to a kid that grew up in the Midwest this is the stuff that fueled our dreams.
As children, we were given our first skates about the same time as we received our first shoes. It was often said that birth was tough on our mothers because we were born wearing skates. The great tragedy is that I was an AWFUL skater! That, however, never dampened my love of the game. During the winters, my friends and I stumbled around playing pond hockey, skating at outdoor rinks, and playing youth hockey. During the long summer days, it was "game on"! Make-shift nets, shoes, battered sticks, and a tennis ball were all that we needed to live the dream of winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Boys and girls alike would pretend to raise the Cup in victory, kiss the Chalice, and drink bubbly from the Bowl. We could clearly see our names etched in silver for all-time. We would live forever. Our names would be immortalized in the Hockey Hall Of Fame (HHOF) for all those that came after us.
Growing up in Minnesota, a winter wonderland, the sport of hockey was king. We were surrounded by hockey of all levels. We had youth hockey with travel teams and house teams, high school hockey, junior hockey, college hockey and of course we had pro hockey with the NHL. The Minnesota North Stars were the team that I grew up watching and loving. It's odd that I should find myself in Seattle tied to a project that is embroiled in bringing back a lost love.
In many ways, the Seattle Sonics story is the Minnesota North Stars story. My North Stars were ripped out of Minnesota by an unscrupulous owner and taken to Dallas when they were unable to secure a palatial new arena. The green and gold of the North Stars were a fixture in the community for nearly 30 years. It was unimaginable that they could leave, but leave they did. I have since left Minnesota and settled in a beautiful new community. The Twin Cities have a new team in the Minnesota Wild, but it isn't my team. I still mourn the loss of my childhood heroes, the memories of a long gone building turned into Mega Mall, and the feeling I got seeing those larger-than-life players step on to a fresh sheet up ice.
I know the love of basketball and the Seattle Sonics have been the driving force behind Chris Hansen's bid to build an arena and return the NBA to Seattle. To many of us that are cold weather transplants to the area, hockey elicits those same kinds of emotions that Sonics fans feel. We want to feel that passion for a hometown team. I don't want to root for the "closest team". I want to make the kind of lasting memories for my children that still burn in me today. I want my family to see the puck drop at center ice of our arena. I want banners hung in the rafters of our arena. I want my kids to have their own hometown heroes. I want the Stanley Cup to be engraved with Seattle once again. I want hockey! #NHL Seattle