Looking back I realized the first exposure to hockey for my family was in 1992 when my husband and I lived in Florida. During our time in West Palm Beach there was a professional minor league hockey team named the Blaze. They were originally part of the Sunshine Hockey League, which was later renamed the Southern Hockey League.
The Blaze was owned and coached by Bill Nyrop. (who won three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens) He actually guided the team to three straight league titles before having to sell his interest in the club due to failing health.
Kelly Dyer, one of six women playing professional hockey was a goaltender for the Blaze. The team was later re-formed as the West Palm Beach Barracudas in the Southern Hockey league, but folded along with the league in 1996.
We moved from Florida ourselves in the winter of 1994 back to Massachusetts (hubby was born there) because of work. Although we were living about ninety minutes from Boston, we never became Bruins fans. Our time there was short-lived, as once again we were on the move in the fall of 1995, this time to Northern Virginia.
As we all know, work, life, and raising kids take priority, and adult time as parents tends to take a back seat to family needs. Your kids interests become yours, their education and extra curricular activities fill the hours, days, of your life. You start to wonder if you will ever get back to having “me” time.
Fast forward through all the baseball, golf, horseback riding, marching band competitions, and college educations. We found ourselves as empty nesters, having time for ourselves, a little spending money and decided to attend a few Washington Capitals hockey games.
I actually remember being amazed at the fast pace of the game and cringing at some of the hits I witnessed. Hubby reminded me they were nothing compared to what we saw during the games we watched the Blaze play. What was once something we enjoyed so many years ago came full circle, as we became season ticket holders four years ago.
In a season of forty-one home games, there are times in our schedules where we are unable to attend the games. Instead of putting them up for sale, (thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, as we like Caps’ fans in our seats) we offer them first to our kids. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want free tickets to a game.
What began as a fun, (relatively) inexpensive activity for two adults “back in the day”, has become a family affair. My husband and I try, as a family gift, to take the entire family to at least one hockey game a year. Last season it was the Holtby giveaway game. This year we took them last month to the Oshie bobblehead giveaway game. Being a season ticket holder, we are able to buy available seats (not re-sell) at our seat price without any additional fees.
With any team, you have your favorite players, and our family is no different. We collectively have jerseys representing Ovechkin (2 for the grand babies), Backstrom, Oshie (2), Holtby (5), Beagle, and Winnik. While our kids aren’t nearly as obsessed with hockey as I am, one of the youngest members of the Desabrais Clan is; our grand-daughter. Once she was able to talk I taught her to yell in excitement when TJ Oshie scored a goal, and how to respond when asked what she thought about the Pittsburgh Penguins. At 2 1/2 she loves everything hockey, loves to watch games with her parents, and her Pop Pop (my husband) and yells “hockey game” when she sees anyone wearing anything related to the Capitals, or commercials on TV. Our hopes are for her to meet Oshie, and attend hockey games with us once she is a little older. Her younger brother I’m sure, will grow up loving hockey as much as she does. I might add she has an awesome power shot with her hockey stick.
We are blessed that our family lives so close, and equally blessed that we are able to share in a passion for hockey that started casually for us over twenty-five years ago. There is nothing better than sharing loves, with those you love, be it hockey, baseball, football, reading, or the arts, etc.
We are three generations of hockey fans so far. I am most certain there are “hockey families” that go back a lot further than us. If you have the time, I’m sure fans of the team would love to hear your story, I know I would.
By Lisa Desabrais