College Roommate: “Do yinz watch hockey?”
Me: “Naw. My name’s G, I don’t know who yinz is.”
College Roommate: “Dude, you should. It’s awesome.”
Me: “Naw. You can put it on your TV though.”
That’s how I got into hockey. My freshman year at University of Maryland, my roommate from Pittsburgh made me watch Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux fly around his 20″ TV while I played NFL 2k for Sega Dreamcast on my little 13”. Needless to say, I found myself actually watching and rooting for the Penguins throughout the season. I thought it would just be a phase, then playoffs started…and I was officially a hockey fan. Jagr moved on to the Capitals the next year and even though my roommate was right for saying, “they’re going to screw up his career”, we still watched him in awe.
To this day, I still haven’t said thanks to my roommate and one of my best buds Phil for making me a Pens fan (and I never will) but I am grateful for him making me sit through Hockey nights in Cambridge and Hagerstown Halls. As Dan Steinberg best told my story, I eventually got away from the Penguins and into the hometown Caps with that blond-haired mega badass, Nicklas Backstrom. The more I watched Ovi and the Caps, the more I noticed Backstrom. The coach in me was infatuated. Like, semi-man crush infatuated. It was more about his game than his looks though, please don’t get it twisted.
I was raised by a football coach and played it most of my life. While I was at UMD, I worked for the football team as a manager and learned a lot by being around those athletes and coaches. I then went on to train and coach elite high school, college , and even pro or soon-to-be pro athletes for a few years. This gave me a whole different perspective on what it takes to be an elite athlete.
My respect for hockey players changed when I saw a 17-year-old kid doing box jumps in the gym with 135 lbs on his back. I later found out he was a hockey player. Once I trained my first hockey player, it shook my world. I thought football players and wrestlers were strong, tough guys. Pfft, yeah right! You’ve got to respect an athlete that can outwork everyone in the gym, simply because you tell him he might be able to cancel out ONE more icing penalty per game. To them, that’s an assist or a goal.
As for the Caps, I am a fan second, and an analyst first. I’m obsessed with this team and my fiancée can attest! I’m obsessed with their style of play, their strategy, their coaching, their stats, their ridiculous talent in the system, and their unabated love for the fans. There’s so much more to this sport than just the passion to win and that’s something I’m slowly starting to educate myself about.
Now, when it comes to football, I could tell you how to stop a 5 wide spread with 10 personnel using a Dime Cover 2 Mike with ease, but I just learned two days ago what a trap defense was in hockey. I could tell you all about the strengths of playing a 3 technique versus a 0 or 1 technique in football, but I’m still learning about F3’s role in a 2-1-2 forecheck.
I’m an admitted novice to the game but a hardworking one. I even want to learn how to play hockey at Kettler. I’m just waiting for some overgrown kid to drop their old hockey gear off at the local Goodwill. Pro shop prices are stupid expensive! Don’t they have a hockey TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack?
I’m not your average blind eyed, big-mouthed fan. I take my teams seriously and I take the game seriously. I’m critical and analytical but I’m also highly realistic and common sensical. That’s how I think; that’s how I coached; that’s how I watch the game. I might be a latecomer but don’t dare call me fair-weather! I promise you that this fan is here to stay.
So what can you expect from Nick Blackstrom as you read his posts? He will constantly type in third person and will make you realize the flaws of your favorite players. He will also point out things that you never noticed about the team. He’ll make you laugh, but will also rant like a rabid angry fan at times. Sometimes his posts will look like your 1098, but don’t worry, he’ll refund your loyalty with statistical dark magic and badassery.
Viva la Blackstrom!