Bonus Article from Rocket Backhander
I started flirting with the idea of fandom almost two years ago just before Thanksgiving and continued to casually date the idea of being a Sharks fan until January 17, 2015 – A Saturday night Logan Couture’s dentist was able to cash in on abundantly enough to buy a new Hyundai. Calgary won at the Tank 4-3 but the Sharks left the ice that night with at least one new admirer: Me.
I’ve never been a sports “fan” with the exception of Olympic figure skating and women’s flat-track roller derby, but I knew I had a lot of energy and a little extra time that I needed to channel. Living/boozing near the downtown San Jose area for a number of years, my awareness of the Sharks was limited but supportive, so when I watched Logan Couture take a stick to the face and break a few teeth with little more than a quick swipe of a towel I knew that this was something I could get into. But how? I found a San Jose Sharks fan group on Facebook, and I started asking questions. A lot of questions. It all sort of snowballed after that.
Cut to now, seventeen months later and I’m up to my waist in teal clothing and have learned the Secret Language of Sharks Hockey. Am I a “fan”? Sort of. Mostly, I’m just here to watch. But I’m not a “trufan”. I’m not capable of ignoring the context of the situation. I’m simply not star-struck by any of these men. They’re talented athletes that have the best training and equipment that the sport has to offer. Admirable as they are, not one of them is a “hero”. They’re just guys playing a game.
We’re all fortunate and very lucky to have such a franchise in San Jose.
Most of what you’ll read from me is simply an observation of the current “mood” of the team and the fans. By my count, there’s ample coverage of the stats and hard numbers on any one of the skaters, and I have nothing to add to that. What I can tell you about is what I see. For example, the spectacle of seeing ten young men all keyed up and looking to make a lasting impression on a sheet of ice that, frankly, seemed undersized during the annual Prospect Scrimmage. The San Jose Sharks hosted a successful event at Sharks Ice, a change from last year’s production at SAP Center. Truth be told I appreciated the intimacy generated by the limited seating and home-barn atmosphere. After a post-season full of LED bracelets, pre-game laser shows, and more towels than necessary, it was great to re-gain the hometown vibe from the team. Mentally the prospective players were as keyed-up as first-time lovers, grasping and panting and overwhelmed with emotions. I couldn’t tell you about who made glorious, gutsy plays on who, you can go read someone else’s work for that. I can say is that it was fast, it was sloppy, and none of those guys out there took a second of it for granted. A lot of broken sticks, a lot of unnecessary body-checks. Sorensen’s probably got a bruised tailbone.
I think watching these kids practice and the scrimmage is a rare insight to how an NHL hockey team is crafted at ice-level. Not only are they being observed for their mastery of skills, the young prospects are being judged for their attitude, their aptitude, and their cognition. As a coach, I imagine this must take a certain kind of eye to appreciate, and to be in the same place watching the same game they are, knowing they’re making those sorts of decisions, for me at least is pretty cool.
Until I can think of something better,
I’m Rocket Backhander.
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