I'm a Floridian -- yes, born and raised -- and probably one of the biggest hockey addicts in the Sunshine State. I began following the hockey in middle school when my science teacher, who was a former junior player, taught us more about puckhandling than the periodic table. (I must also give a nod to a former classmate, and Montreal native, Nancy Tran, who enlightened me about the Canadiens and Patrick Roy.) The Florida Panthers arrived two years later.
Now I watch hockey, read about it, write about it, play it (unfortunately, with the scars to prove it), collect jerseys, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Hopefully I'll be able to check in frequently on this blog. I gave it a try once or twice before, but our blog publishing tools were a little cumbersome and it made blogging more of a chore than fun. The "guys on the third floor" seemed to have hit a proverbial home run (or, should I say, scored a hat trick?) with the CBS Sports.com blogs.
On that note, I'm not sure what else to cover in my introductory post, so I'll just cover a few more basics about myself:
First game in person: Nov. 20, 1993 - Florida 4, Washington 3: Panthers defenseman Brent Severyn hopped out of the penalty box, took a pass in stride an scored the game winner on a breakaway.
Most memorable game in person: April 27, 1996 - Florida 4, Boston 3: Bill Lindsay breaks past Ray Bourque along the right wing, gets tripped up in the low slot. While falling, Lindsay slides the puck between Bill Ranford's pads for the eventual game-winner. The Miami Arena was rockin' that day. Honorable mention: Attending the last game between the Rangers and Islanders during the 2001-02 season.
Coolest moment: Hanging out on the ice and in the Czech Republic locker room after they beat Finland for the gold medal at the 2001 IIHF World Championship. Honorable mention: Seeing the "first" shootout in the NHL at the 2003 All-Star Game, meeting Jim Craig and Buzz Schneider at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey in St. Paul, Minn.
Most unique game you've had to write about? I don't remember the date, but it was a matchup between Anaheim and Calgary during the 2001-2002 season. The teams needed about 30 minutes to play the last 90 seconds because of an absurd number of fights. Refs handed out eight misconducts, six game miscounducts, a gross misconduct and 309 penalty minutes. Honorable mention: Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon's beatdown of the Italian Sausage during the Milwaukee Brewers' "Sausage Race" in 2003.
Favorite hockey movie? A tie. Les Chiefs -- a wonderful documentary about a semi-pro team in the toughest league you've ever seen. The Rocket -- you don't see many serious hockey movies, but this one fits the mold (and is quite possibly one of the best sports movies ever made).
A female? Playing ice hockey? In Florida? Yes, we really do have ice rinks down here. I play about once a week in a league and travel with the Fort Lauderdale Lucky Pucks for tournaments around North America.
Coolest on-ice experience? Playing hockey with members of the USA womens' hockey team at a clinic in 2001. Honorable mention: Playing on the same team as Hall of Famer Denis Potvin at the Florida Panthers Fantasy Camp in December 2004.
Favorite shot? Backhand.
How many jerseys do you have? At last count, 42. Wait, scratch that. Just added another, so I'm up to 43.
Favorite non-hockey teams? Florida Gators and Miami Dolphins. Technically the Florida Marlins, but I'm still steamed over the latest fire sale.
Anything else? :: taps stick on the ice for Smitty, Eric, The Rev, "Captain" K, KO, Michelin Man, Fatty, Roomie, and all the other Pucks:: You know who you are.