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My Ducks History

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Over at Fear The Fin, our Sharks comrades have started an ASG-break SBNctivity called My Sharks History, which invites users to tell their story.

What we're asking is for you, the lifeblood of this cult community, to chime in through the Fanpost function by writing an article about your Sharks history. The first game you attended, the moment you became a hockey fan, a remarkable goal in the playoffs, what you were doing when you heard about the Joe Thornton trade, that night when your drunk aunt punched the daylights out of a Red Wings fan after a bitter loss- anything is fair game, anything is legal (even if it wasn't legal at the time) and most importantly, anything will be saved for posterity in the aforementioned sidebar.

It's already got some great entries, from Mr. Plank's to Morti's to Dave Valentine's and you can check out more on their right sidebar, too.  And since I'm a guy who has no qualms about stealing a good idea, I figured we could take advantage of some SBNbiosis and give it a go here at BoC as well.

So what say you, readers?  When did you get into hockey, and when did you start rooting for your team?  Favorite moments?  Favorite players?  What's your history?  The Fanpost feature to your right is pretty easy to use, and in typical BoC custom, all styles are accepted.  Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Stars, whatever -- I'm willing to read all of them. 

And sure, I'll go first.

My name isn't Earl Sleek but it suffices for this blog -- I was born in the suburbs of Chicago but moved to Southern California when I was two, so essentially I'm west coast soft.  I grew up playing tennis, was a good student, occasionally went to an Angels game, but generally had no interest in following team sports in the slightest. 

Until I got to Duke University, that is, where a few things happened.  I stopped being a good student, for one -- and somewhat related, I started playing SNES NHL 94, a lot of it.  Because that game featured an awful Anaheim team, I played as the L.A. Kings against my friends, and that's when a lot of dangerous questions started popping up: "Who is this Tomas Sandstrom who scores all my goals?"  "Is the real-life Marty McSorley as tough to knock down as the video game version?"  "I wonder how often the real Kings coach puts in Robb Stauber instead of Kelly Hrudey?"

I ended up getting drawn heavily into actual NHL players and results through such video-game-inspired questions, and a few of us would even make the drive down to Greensboro to see some Carolina Hurricanes games before they moved to their Raleigh home -- that was pretty sweet, because you could sit on the glass for $10 -- not legally, mind you, but this was before Carolina started employing "ushers" to direct confused college kids to the upper deck where we belonged. 

Now I'm going to gloss over one critical part to the story -- I think it's best saved for another day -- why I became a Mighty Ducks fan instead of a Kings fan.  For now, know that it was very a close call -- based on video game affiliation, I nearly became a Kings fan for life, even though Anaheim was more my hometown.  Whew!  Fortunately, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne were tearing it up for the Ducks, and soon enough I couldn't get enough of it.

I didn't really start attending Ducks games until after I graduated from college in 2001.  Soon afterwards, I got involved through a former boss in the Row B ticket pool that I'm still in today -- an arrangement that's served me very well, especially in the 2003 postseason.  The Ducks offered a special for the group to buy four extra lower bowl seats for the playoffs, but nobody in the group wanted to do it (it was widely assumed that Detroit would once again end Anaheim's postseason early) -- nobody, that is, except me and my boss.  I had just run into some money, and he and I decided to split the four extra seats 50/50 between just the two of us.  The Row Rs (as they became known) were awesome seats, and even though it cost me a bundle, I was pleased as punch to attend most of Anaheim's postseason games that year -- including the best game I've ever been to: SCF G6 (you know -- Scott Stevens murders Paul Kariya / Paul Kariya resurrects and wins game).

One other thing happened to me when I was in college, by the way -- I developed a taste/knack for championships.  I was supposed to graduate from college in 1999, but because of lackluster grades I ended up taking two years off in the middle.  As a result, I became the envy of my classmates -- in '99, the Blue Devils lost to UConn in the NCAA basketball finals; in '01 they ended up winning it all, and it was my classroom slackiness that enabled me to be there.  After that, I moved back to SoCal and roomed with a huge Angels fan -- I ended up following that team pretty closely for a season that ended up with their World Series win, another huge feel-good event.  Then, shortly thereafter, the Mighty Ducks began their miracle run, and even though that ended one win short of perfection, I was so hooked that I've hardly ever watched a college basketball or baseball game since.  I was really on a roll, though -- championship runs no matter what sport I followed.

Anyways, that got a little lengthy, but that more or less is the hockey origin of Earl Sleek.  In a lot of ways, I seem to be a success story from the NHL's expansion era -- I'm a huge hockey fan who's experienced very little cold weather, never lived in a traditional market, and never actually played the sport (plus nobody in my family was even remotely a hockey fan).  Still, the game's completely drawn me in as a spectator -- the combination of brute force and dazzling puck trickery still captivates me, and I doubt I'll ever switch sports again.  Someday I imagine they'll engrave my tombstone with the fateful words:

Go Ducks.