Today I may be a die-hard Avalanche fan, but when I was a kid, my main team was the Leafs. They were followed by Sakic, Foppa and the rest of the Nordiques. Back then, the only Nords games I watched were ones against the Leafs. Even now, the large majority of hockey I watch on TV is of the Blue and White.
That's the curse/blessing of living in the GTA.
5. Neighbourhood Road Hockey
I grew up in a co-op in Scarborough. If you've ever lived in one, you know it can be a really close-knit group. For me, it was like growing up with a giant family.
Any road hockey game would always start out with 4 or 5 players, but quickly grew to enough players for two full lines. Adults, teens, and kids combined. I still remember a few times we ended up closing off a section of our 'road' for the game.
And no one ever complained. Well, at least as far as I know, I was a kid after all.
4. Card Collecting
My uncle started me on hockey cards when I was 6. He gave me ~300 cards in all (even that was only a fraction of his collection) all ranging from those cheap McD's cards to some pretty uncommon ones. None of them were worth very much, but to me they were the priceless, and I took care of them like they were the Holy Grail.
I'm 24 soon, and I still go to a local card shop just to go over their recent additions. I still treasure that collection, which has grown to over 800 cards, and I plan on handing them all down to my future hellspawn/kids.
I gave this and the next a tie, since they go hand in hand.
2. Growing up in skates rather than shoes
My parents first put me in skates when I was 3, just so I would stop crying about not being allowed on the ice with my older cousins. My first hockey game was when I was 4.(High five November kids) I still hear stories from those first few games that I would need help to get up every time I fell, since I couldn't get back up on my own. But during that year, I started learning how to skate on my own. I've been in love with the sport ever since I scored my first goal the following year.
2. Dreams and Ambition
Once I hit about 8 years old, I started having those dreams every kid does, of playing alongside Sakic and Forsberg, and scoring the Triple OT, Stanley Cup winning goal. I tried hard to make those dreams a reality, playing hockey and learning more every moment I could. Going out to play on the nearby rink all day, until well past sunset and I couldn't see the stick in front of me. That never did stop me though, I wanted to play until I collapsed.
Unfortunately for my younger self, my family could barely afford to put me and my brother into house/rep leagues every year along with all the new equipment we needed every year. And once I hit 16, couldn't even do that.
1. Family Hockey Night
The biggest reason I grew up watching the Leafs was because of my family. My mom grew up in a family of 14, and her and 8 of her siblings moved to Ontario from Newfieland to raise families. So once a month for HNIC, all the Ontario family would cram in together under the same roof, and watch a Leafs game. Having almost 20 kids and adults in the same living room, cheering alongside the fans in the Gardens. These are times I will never forget.