The Stanley Cup playoffs is the palette cleanser of the NHL regular season. Whatever happened in the 1,230 regular season games played, is now a memory. The points figured out your playoff spot, but winning streaks and losing streaks, they’re all wiped clean and new records begin. Whether your team dominated the season, or just slipped into the playoffs. New heroes can arise from teams, and underdogs can find their game. Teams play differently, there’s more speed, and physicality. The atmospheres from the regular season are intensified, since there’s a prize at the end of the road much more valuable. Rivals are born, or reignited. The playoffs are a wonderful time, one of the best things about them is not only watching the teams, but being a fan of one of them.
Fans do completely irrational things come mid-April. It’s all superstitions. You have game day rituals, eating the same meal that you ate the day your team won the first game of the series, doing something different from what you did the day they lost a game, or driving the same way to work. For someone who doesn’t watch sports, they probably all ask the same question, what’s it for? Why do it? It’s simple, because it’s who we are and it’s what we do. Fans love the sport, it’s our lifestyle. We live and breathe the game. The players are considered family although we’ve never met them. Their hopes and dreams are our hopes and dreams. Cities come together to cheer on favorite teams. The streets are littered with confetti and banners, and each fan is covered head to toe as if bleeding their teams’ colors. Whether it’s an early trip to the greens, or raising the Cup in June, the colors shine. When finally, we see the Cup, you realize it was all worth it. Staying up to see the triple overtime game, even if it wasn’t your team. Losing your voice when they move onto the next round, or crying when the season is over. Doing all these weird traditions makes sense. To see our favorite players hoist that 34.5 lb holy grail over their heads, seeing the locker room celebration, and the parade in the city. Seeing pictures of the players with the cup and their families, as if it’d always been welcome in their homes. To see them etched forever into history. I hope your playoff beards are in full growth.
My fellow Blueshirts… Welcome to the playoffs.