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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Opening Night

There are two words that can make any sports fan giddy with excitement and joy.
Opening Night

Tonight is was the night the NHL season will would have started. Tonight was opening night. The one night of the year when all fans, even us New York Islanders fans, can be anticipating and hoping about the season that we have waited six long months for. It is the one night where all 30 teams are equal. Everybody is 0-0-0 with 0 points.

Photo Credit: shop.mlb.com 

Now, imagine you are at the game. You walk to the gate, hand an usher your ticket with the phrase, "Home Game 1" on it. She gives it back to you. After walking through the turnstile, a different usher hands you a rally towel with the phrase you've waited a while to see written write across the middle, "Opening Night." There is a buzz all around the arena that there won't be for the rest of the season. It's a sell-out and everybody shows up early. You go to your seats for the pre-game warm ups, you see your team out on the ice in person for the first time. That new player they acquired over the off-season looks good in his new uniform. The superstar has his hair (or lack thereof) flowing as he skates around the ice. The goalies are looking great in their pads. They stop everything they face. The veteran skates right past you. You wonder how much he's got left in the tank, whether or not he will be back for another season. He passes a puck to the rookie making his NHL debut. He's got his whole career ahead of him, and you wonder if he will live up to the hype that has been around him. You look across the ice to see the other team. "It's going to be a good game."

After grabbing some food from the vendor that you missed, you return to your seat well before the start of the game. It's opening night, and they are going to introduce all of the players. First, the lights in the arena dim, a video is played to get you hyped up. Shortly after that, the spotlight is on as the players are introduced and come skating out of the tunnel one by one. You clap for each one, maybe throwing in a boo or two to the players that you don't like as much. At the end, it's the Captain, the man chosen to try to lead the team to the promise land. He gets the loudest ovation, you cheer loudly for him. Then the public address announcer introduces the coaches, you don't  really know who the assistants are, but that doesn't really matter, does it? The visiting team takes the ice and goes to their bench. The referees take the ice, you boo them, but have they done anything wrong yet?

It's time for the national anthem, and for opening night, there is a flag that covers most of the ice. A famous singer is singing the national anthem. She sings it beautifully, the flag is put away. The starting lineups for both teams are announced. The referee blows the whistle. The centers are at the face-off circle ready for the puck drop. The referee drops the puck. All the waiting is over, the season is upon us. Game on.
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Right now, we don't know when exactly will happen. We all know that the NHL is in the third work stoppage in the past 18 years. This is the first of many obstacles us hockey fans will have to overcome. Right now, all we can do is wait and hope. 

Thanks for reading. Let's get hockey back!!!