The guys are writing such great stuff that every time a new post comes out, I think, "Ugh, I can't even complete with that!" But I do have a few final thoughts to submit to the universe before I close the book on the Aeros. Some of them are happy, some are grumpy, but none are sleepy, sneezy, or dopey.
Well, some might be dopey.
I've written this section 3 times now and it gets less angry every time. That whole "write your angry letter and then throw it away" thing works, I guess, but I still need to say it.
I deeply regret that I was never able to get on record even a hint of what happened in the negotiations with Toyota Center.
I tried, believe me, I did. While I understood the inability to discuss during negotiations, I really hoped that after the fact, the organization would give me even just a bare minimum of information. Just throw the long-loyal Aeros fans a bone and say, "They wanted us to pay triple what we'd be paying in Des
Moines. It was just untenable. We honestly tried our best and we're
really sorry it ended up this way."
I just feel like that would have been a really decent thing to do for the one population whose interests weren't being met in this arrangement, but who had shown the most loyalty all along. I wanted to get that for you guys, for all of us, and my biggest disappointment in my whole writing career is that I wasn't able to.
My favorite thing
first game every season, butterflies in my stomach, walking into the
mostly empty arena and smelling that ice, the boys pouring out of the
tunnel for warm-ups, seeing friends I haven't seen all summer and
falling right back into that happy routine of going to Aeros games.
My first hockey loves
I loved John Scott back when I didn't know what
hockey was really supposed to look like. He was tall, he was nice, he
could hold guys at arms length and just wail on them and win every fight
imaginable without even breaking a sweat. He was great. Then I realized
that goalies were king and Brusty was the king of kings and I was lost
forever. Every moment watching him play as an Aero, I cherish. I think I
have those old What's Bugging Barry Brust? videos memorized. Every time I open a difficult package I think, "Or, like, a gun..."
People keep asking if I'm going to find a place to write up here in Dallas, but frankly, I'm ready for a break. I've done well for myself just going where the wind takes me with this hockey writing thing. So, I think it's a strategy worth sticking to. But I will miss being in the media, at least during games.
There's something about the delayed gratification of not being
able to stand up and cheer or boo or whatever during a game, but that,
in exchange, we get to document the game for posterity. It's very
satisfying. Plus, when your colleagues are as fun as mine have always
been, it's a double bonus. Also, you learn to not take it so personally. I guess when you don't pay for tickets, it's a lot easier. We'll see how I feel about the Stars rebuilding on my dime. :)
Favorite game moment? Hmm...
I feel badly
that I don't have more in-game moments outside of John's great list, but
all the great moments for me just add up to this big warm, fuzzy, exciting ball
and I can't separate them anymore. I do remember the
bad-feeling-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach moments, like Game 6 of the finals
when the Toyota Center felt so huge and cold and empty despite a nice
crowd. I just knew it was over. And I'll never forget the Ottawa fans chanting "YOU CAN'T
HACK IT!" at Hackett in Binghamton. Clever, but oh boy...
On the Road
I'm not a big, "Hey let's get in the car and drive!" gal. I get sleepy and bored and my butt hurts. But for hockey, it's worth it. Road trips to San
Antonio and Austin with Andrew and John and Chris and Fred and Terri and
Emilie and plane trips to fun places like Cleveland, Syracuse,
Providence, Milwaukee. Always a great time.
Houston Hockey Culture
While I feel awful for fans losing their team, what eats at me even more is that no new fans will be created. You really have to GO TO a hockey game to understand what's so amazing about the sport and I know many of us are hockey fans thanks to going to that first Aeros game.
For me, that first Aeros game and all the subsequent ones, led me to essentially a second career (and frankly, one that brings a lot more joy than any day job ever could), a whole new group of really awesome friends, and basically a new me across the board. I've accomplished things I never would have imagined (learning to skate, play goal, being an AHL beat writer, meeting and becoming friends with my hockey idol) thanks to that first Aeros game.
Dallas owns junior hockey in Texas, but Houston was starting to come into its own. Creating future hockey players, creating its own fan base, is how hockey survives in the south and the Aeros did a bang-up job of supporting that.
I just hate to see that process have to regress a little (or a lot) and start all over when, someday, hopefully, Houston gets a hockey team again.
It's like when Tinkerbell was dying and, to keep her alive, you had to clap your hands if you believed...
Keep clapping, Aeros fans. Hockey needs you.