Though my normal activity around here tends to suggest otherwise, I actually had a fairly typical childhood where I was raised by two wonderful parents. However, my hockey upbringing started almost from birth and included such wonders as tennis courts, robots, a little crying and a whole lot of hotdogs. (And yes, this is all meatspin free, next question?)
The Early Years:
When I was born my parents lived in a small one story house over in what I think was Rock Hill. It was nice, but a little small for a family of four and definitely would not have survived my potato cannon phase. However there was a huge upside to living in this house. You see, if you were to go down the street and cut through a few yards you would find yourself at the Saint Louis residence of the Golden Brett. Yes people I initially grew up only a mere street away from Brett Hull and on the weekends my dad (who still plays hockey 3 times a week and is over 60) would walk me over and we would sit and watch kids play hockey is Brett's driveway. I was still way too small to play hockey so I just watched and took a liking to whatever it was that these kids were doing, I also had my first exposure to some random team called the Blues, naturally they became my favorite. However my family soon moved to a bigger house far away from that magical driveway where I was introduced to hockey by a living legend. Later on I asked my dad why we moved away from such a great place and he told me 'I didn't want you to turn into a Whinny little hockey player'. I guess he was always looking out for me, and this new house turned out to not be so bad...
My hockey mentor (not really but sort of)
Tennis Courts and Easter:
Upon entering my neighborhood you notice two things, one of the houses is sporting a huge cannon in the front yard and that there is a fairly old tennis court on the other side of the street. Of course even better was the fact that every house on the street seemed to have a kid who loved hockey. Back in the day there would be full court games at least once a week, usually with two goalies. It was there that I really fell in love with playing the game and honed a truly nasty slapshot. Of course these games paled in comparison to the ones that were played every easter which was easily my favorite religious holiday, not counting easter. On Easter, everybody showed up to play, kids, parents, cousins from out of town who have never held a stick. If you could walk, you played. We played multiple games from about noon till it was too dark to see the puck. I can clearly remember such moments as my first hat-trick, the time I played goalie and shut out the other team with my unorthodox style (I stopped more shots with my goalie mask than my pads), or the time a neighbors uncle cracked his head open. (the blood stain is still there, totally badass). Of course we always had a radio out there with the Blues game on and it only made me love the team more. Sadly as we grew older and moved away, the tennis court finally fell silent, but the memories still remain.
My DrinkScotch Center (not really but ok)
Robots and Hockey, A Winning Combination
Being the weird and nerdy person I am, I happen to find robots to be cool, and none were cooler than the ones that came out of the scoreboard during FOX broadcasts of the playoffs. Yes FOX also created the glowing puck, but those robots were balls to the wall awesome. To me, nothing beat watching the Detroit robot get steamrolled into a puck by the Blues robot. By now the Blues were my favorite team and nothing would ever change that.
My Love Falters
I think my downfall began with the destruction of the old barn. My parents still have the video were I began to cry while watching the implosion, and I'll admit that the moment hurt me deeply. As I grew older and entered high school, things changed. I began running, and the pursuit of a spot in the state cross country meet began to overtake my life. Sadly this took its tool on my love of hockey seeing as I was not near good enough to play for my high schools team and really didn't want to since it was mostly populated by a bunch of spoiled dickweeds.To make matters worse the lockout hit and the shit hit the fan for our beloved Blues. For most of high school I am ashamed to say that hockey was just an afterthought to me. I rarely skated and when I eventually tore up my knee running, I was banned from skating for over a year. It was a dark period but there is a happy ending to this story...
I will always refer to the first free food game as a stroke of marketing genius, mostly because it got me to fall back in love with the Blues. When I hear about the game, I scored 4 free tickets through my mom's job and fasted for at least a day before the game. What a game it was, a back and forth tilt with the Kings enhanced by the fact that I was constantly stuffing my face with hotdogs. I ended up puking my guts out near the spot where the Big Al statue now stands, but the spark had returned. I eventually found this gem of a site, began religiously following the Blues again and now just had to wait until I was cleared to skate again. I longer than expected after I took a spill down a hill while working at Camp Lakewood, but the day finally came and my knee was finally said to be healthy enough to handle skating again. Of course this moment came while I was at mizzou which doesn't even have a public ice rink, but I would not be denied. Instead I laced up my roller blades and at night I would skate in the vet school parking lot and shoot at the light poles. Now that I'm home I got to Kirkwood Stick n Puck as much as possible. I'm still unable to stop effectively, but that will come as my knee gets stronger I hope. However unlike my knee, my love for hockey and the Saint Louis Blues has never been stronger.