I think it’s safe to say most guys have their father’s to thank for turning them into sports fans. Before we could even put a sentence together, we were probably playing catch, kicking a soccer ball, and if you live where it’s cold enough, skating before we could walk. As we got older, and discovered the magical device called the TV, we also learned that the best thing on TV to watch was sports (and Baywatch).
I grew playing soccer and street hockey, but when it came to watching the pro’s, it was pretty much only hockey. And while of course we cheered for the Flyers, we also rooted for Russian players around the league, because that’s where we came from. Bure, Mogilny, Federov, Kovalev, I loved to watch those guys. Lindros of course was (and is) my favorite hometown hero. And being an elementary schooler in the mid-90’s, I had no idea where these arenas where, how the people in the crowd got there, or that it was even possible to go watch these players live.
As my 10th birthday approached in November of ’95, my dad came home with the big news. We had tickets to Mogilny, Bure, and the rest of the Canucks come to town to play the Flyers. Of course Bure was in the midst of getting hurt every year, so I missed out on him. But still, it was one of the greatest experiences ever. I saw Mogilny score, which of course put a damper into the crowd. But I’ll never forget the excitement of my first live Flyers goal. The puck goes into the net, and then you see absolutely nothing because your vision is blocked by 17,000 pairs of hands shooting into the air. And of course, right to next to me, is my dad, jumping and screaming along with everyone. Eventually the Flyers won in overtime (Kevin Haller, I think), and I had a memory to last a lifetime.
When we look back on these moments, we remember what happened on the ice, but we sometimes forget how we got there. I want to thank my dad for taking me to that game, for teaching me about sports, for all of the stories of the old glories from teams he watched growing up.
Thanks Dad, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!