Posted by Mark at 6:09 PM
What that Clown Owner in Anaheim Took Away
or...Why I can Never Root for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks Again...
I have held back for a few months to collect my thoughts on the relocation of the former Cincinnati Mighty Ducks to Portland, Maine to pick up the mantle of the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League. Granted, only the affiliation moved, and we here in Cincy are left with a dormant franchise waiting for rebirth. It is part of the business, they say. No hard feelings, right? Wrong. This clown in Anaheim took something away from me, something very special. First, a little background...
I have been attending hockey games at the Cincinnati Gardens consistently for 15 years, and for over 20 out of my almost 30 years. I have watched patrick Lalime, Paul Lawless, Sergei Samsonov, Marc Denis, and many others. I watched the evolution of the Cyclones, and the development of the Ducks. I befriended goalies and forwards, "can't miss prospects" and "bush league bums." I saw many stunning victories and quite a few devastating losses. I've laughted, I've cried. I've cheered, I've booed.
I was a Ducks fan from day One. I attended 98% of Duck home games over their 8 seasons. Jeremy Stevenson was the first player of the Ducks to sign my inaugural program. He became my favorite Duck and a treasured friend. I watched the Ducks go from loveable losers to sometimes confounding contenders.
The players came and went, as they often do in the minors. Some were favorites of mine, like Maxim Balmochnykh, Jeremy Stevenson, Frank Banham, Ilya Bryzgalov, Stan Chistov, Gregg Naumenko, and the original goalies Tom Askey and Chris Mason. Others had the personality of a pitbull, even if they had talent. It was great to see Cincy Ducks become Anaheim Ducks. I lived and died with those teams. But, NO LONGER.
Many of the players were generous with their time and tools. I have so many autographed cards, pucks, sticks, ticket stubs, jerseys; you would not believe. It was incredible to be rewarded as a fan by a favorite player. It wasn't even so much the item or gift as it was just mostly the interactions and relationships over the years. I will treasure them always.
So, you say, why won't you root for Anaheim? What is it they took away? It was something irreplaceable. They took away the last year of hockey for my sister and me before she left for college. You see, despite the 12 years in age difference, the culture gap, etc., Mary and I always had hockey, DUCKS hockey. I began taking my sister during the last 3 years of the Cyclones regime at the Gardens. However, her love of hockey really came around when the Ducks came to town.
Twelve years difference creates lots of tension and interesting dynamics in a relationship. Despite the years, the growing pains, we always had hockey. Even more than the wins and losses, the sticks and jerseys and stuff; I enjoyed the comraderie and fellowship with my sister. Wataching her grow up and getting the chance to relate to her better thru the prism of hockey has been tremendous. We have shared so much through Ducks hockey. Even as she grew older and Big Brother was no longer so cool, we could still be real and goof around at hockey games. Even as our interests diverged as she grew up and I grew old, we had Ducks hockey.
This year was going to be special. It would be the last full season of Ducks hockey for us as a team. She is a senior in High School and would be heading off to college. I had so much planned for this, what would have been our last season together. You see, with my work and her schooling and activities, we only really had hockey time together. We had hockey to unite our distant generations. And this year was going to be great. Watching the joy in her eyes as she rooted on a very talented Ducks team would have been great. It would have made the circle complete, as I would have seen that joy from childhood to blooming adulthood. Through hockey, we could have had a last great memory, something to further cement us toghter, to send her off to college with the secure knowledge that we could always meet up at the next Ducks weekend series. This would have been a last, great year together, and she would know that when she came home we could seamlessly reconnect through hockey. However, thanks to that CLOWN in Anaheim, this is not possible, as the Cincy franchise will remain dormant this year. Already, some of that joy for Mary is gone, and our relationship is less cohesive, because there is no Ducks hockey to get ready for.
This lost year is irreplaceable. I can always get pucks or jerseys or authographs. The lost joy with my sister is unique, and more valuable than any tax breaks or favorable business deals. I don't hate or blame the players, they had no choice. But, I will no longer be able to root for their team or organization. That clown in Anaheim took this special time away from me. He took more than a franchise, more than hockey prospects, more than a team. He took a connection to my sister, and smashed parts of our hearts to pieces.