What team you root for is usually determined at a young age, influenced by your parents and where you were born. It’s easy to choose a team when you come from a big market location. What do you do when you’re from a city that didn’t have a hockey team when you were growing up? Do you keep allegiance to the team you were raised with? Or do you switch sides if you move to a new city?
My parents were born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri but moved to South Florida before I was born. The Florida Panthers didn’t come into existence until I was almost an adult. So, I was raised a St. Louis Blues fan. I’ve remained a diehard fan through the good times and the bad.
Fast-forward to 2005 when I moved to Colorado and embraced my new state as my home. I have remained a committed Blues fan, as I wrote a personal piece about my Stanley Cup experience with the team. But I have also made friends with natives who are diehard Colorado Avalanche fans.
A few years back, a friend of mine had season tickets for the Avalanche and took me to a lot of games. As a hockey fan, it was hard not to root for a team at a game. I became a fan, but not because they were winning. In fact, I attended many of their losses. I had fought it off for years because I still held a grudge for their sweep of the Panthers to win the Stanley Cup in 1996.
Considering the fact that I’ve made Colorado my home and don’t plan on leaving any time soon, I’ve adopted the Avalanche as one of my teams. Some may call me a bandwagon fan, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve simply accepted the hometown team as my own.
Blues or Avalanche?
I recently wrote a piece about the Avalanche and Blues being un-rivals. The mutual respect between these teams even rolls over to their fans. Colorado has seen an influx of transplants over the last few years (we all know why) and many of them have come from the St. Louis area.
The two home games at the Pepsi Center were filled with A LOT of Blues fans. I attended both games and observed quite amazing complacency amongst Blues and Avs fans.
The first game on Jan. 2, I chose to don Blues gear at the last minute. The outcome of that game (Blues lost 7-3) changed my mind about ever wearing Blues apparel to an Avalanche game in Denver. Just like the players, I am very superstitious about circumstances when my team loses.
Even though I was wearing my Blues garb and the Avalanche dominated the game, none of the Avalanche fans chirped at me. In fact, most of the fans I spoke with were more humbled that their team was playing so well against the defending Stanley Cup champs. In turn, I didn’t harp on the success of my team and had amiable conversations about the game itself.
Not surprisingly, Blues center Ryan O’Reilly was diplomatic about their loss to the Avalanche:
They’re a good team with a lot of good pieces. They played hard tonight and they were better than us. I think we’re the better team, and we’ve got them again and looking forward to that game.
–Blues center Ryan O’Reilly to NHL.com independent correspondent Rick Sadowski.
The second matchup in Denver on Jan. 18 was a closer, more evenly played game except for the second period when the Blues allowed the Avalanche to take control and score three goals. The outcome was another Avalanche win, but mutual respect was shown by both players and coaches.
Due to my previous experience wearing Blues apparel, I chose to go almost neutral to this game. I had my Blues hat in my pocket and didn’t take my Blues pendant off. I’m now convinced I have bad luck mojo at these outings.
When the Blues aren’t playing the Avalanche and I’m available to watch, the local hockey bar has made a home for the Rocky Mountain Bluenotes Facebook group and any other Blues loyal that want to be around fellow fans.
On the flip side, I’ll go watch the Avalanche on nights they’re playing and the Blues are off. But there have been a few nights I’ve had to pull double duty. It requires a certain level of attention to follow two hockey games at the same time. Even at the local Denver bar, the Avs and Blues fans nod at each other in respect as hockey fans.
It gets really interesting when I can stay home and watch when both teams are playing. Although it may be physically comfortable, it’s anything but mentally comfortable.
It really is quite a dilemma for me. I’m lucky enough to have two great teams playing this season and it wouldn’t be any different if neither was doing well. I’ve always been a dedicated, passionate hockey fan.
My enthusiasm for both teams places me in a predicament. What shall I do if they face each other in the playoffs? As difficult as it would be, there’s not a doubt in my mind I bleed Blue. But I’ll still show appreciation for the effort by both teams as a true fan of the sport.