The "Open Letter Series" is a series of letters to different people, groups of fans, or basically anything else the Elsinore All-Stars cannot stand because they make being a hockey fan practically unbearable. On occasion I have been known to write some positive open letters - letters that don't rip people apart or openly mock. Well, readers, today is another one of those letters. Whether casual or die hard, new or long-time, if you're a fan of hockey, then today's letter is for you. Today's open letter is to all the hockey fans of the world.
Some of this letter may read similarly to my open letter to casual fans from a while back. I'm OK with it. I believe the message is an important one and I'm going to share it, like it or not. What can I say? I'm a giver like that.
We all know hockey is the greatest sport in the world, that's why we watch it. Whether you're a newcomer to the game, a long time fan, a casual fan, a hardcore fan, or anywhere in between, hockey has a way of captivating people like nothing else (unless you're watching a game where one team is coached by Jacques Lemaire - in that case, happy napping). As if hockey wasn't already an enthralling sport, we're currently in the midst of the best time of the year to be a hockey fan. The World Junior Championships were just a couple months ago, the NCAA Frozen Four is ongoing, and we're about to begin the playoffs in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. It is a great time indeed.
As if all that wasn't enough to draw plenty of attention to the sport, labor strife in the NFL and NBA could lead to much more exposure for hockey than we hockey fans are accustomed to. We'll likely see many more spectators at hockey games and at sports bars going forward. If NFL & NBA disputes last into the fall, perhaps we'll have many more new fans at NHL arenas in October. While it can wreck havoc with ticket availability, it is not a bad thing to have more fans. An explosion in the popularity of football made the NFL far more accessible to fans. While the NHL will likely never compete with the NFL in the American market, hockey fans should look at that as a perfect reason to be welcoming of new fans.
In closing, as new fans are introduced to the sport, don't be so snobby. Too often hockey fans try to outdo one another, competing over who is a "better" fan or who has been watching/following hockey longer. That sort of attitude won't help the sport grow. Certainly there's nothing wrong with some playful banter and trash-talking done in the spirit of fun, but there's no point in looking down on someone for being new to the sport. Remember, everyone was new to the game at some point - even you. We follow the greatest sport in the world and there is no harm in sharing it with others.
Hardly the greatest blogger of what is definitely the greatest sport,