I came from a football family. New Year's Day was always about the bowl games around my house growing up as a kid. But this past holiday was a day of hockey bliss. Sure we still forced ourselves to get up and watch the Rose Bowl Parade from Pasadena, but then it was all NHL for 2008.
We staggered out of bed around 10 in the morning to catch some of the flower laden floats from California slowly creep across the screen. Besides those who wanted to turn it into a large protest, it has always been good tradition on New Year's Day. Then it was make some quick breakfast and flip the channel to NBC to catch the Winter Classic.
Even my wife, who normally rolls her eyes if I turn on any hockey game besides the Capitals, bought in to the novelty of the outdoor game. What the NHL did at the WC was impressive. Besides the game being a bore in the second and third periods, the NHL put on a good product and I lost myself in the excitment of the moment. 70,000+ fans cheering and then these guys:
Please don't tell me this is going to be the new standard of dress seen at hockey games.
The scene was unbelievable to watch, the falling snow, the skill of the NHL players, the condition of the ice all added to the drama and fun of watching this game between Buffalo and Pittsburgh. No idea what the ratings were for the outdoor match against college football, but the event was a success by the teams' fans, those who participated and by hockey fans in general.
The Winter Classic dragged on almost as long as some of the rival football games that played in the same slot. And then it was time to flip the channel once again when 4 o'clock turned around. The Caps were playing their second game in a home and home with the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Sens came out strong, but the Capitals endured and swept the home at home.
By the start of the second period I had lost my wife to the bedroom where she elected to watch the "Modelthon" on VH1. The Caps sealed the deal against Ottawa and we had to make a quick trip to Target and returned just in time to catch the second period of the Leafs/Lightning game on the NHL Network. It was a day that saw football take a back seat to hockey, at least in my household.
I didn't watch a single bowl game, didn't even turn the channel to ESPN for any highlights. I supported my sport of hockey on a day normally reserved for football. My dad was disgusted with me when he found out that I had watched hockey all day and my wife vowed we were going to do something else next New Year's Day. But for one day, it was a great day of hockey.