My love for hockey began in the 1993 Leafs playoff run probably at the moment Gilmour went around all sides of the net to score the OT winner. It continues to this day and here's why:
5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Moving to this country at the age of 5 enabled me to be introduced to hockey. I will always be grateful for that. If not I would probably be watching soccer or even worse cricket in the UK or Kuwait oblivious to the true beautiful game. The Toronto Maple Leafs, however, introduced me to passion. There are few things in my life I am more passionate about than my Leafs fandom. I cried myself to sleep as a 9 year old losing to the Kings in Game 7, I cheered louder than I'd ever cheered before when Sundin tied the game against the Hurricanes in '02 and felt the stinging pain of defeat in what seemed like seconds later, I stood and cheered as Sundin made his return to the ACC, I praise OLAS and lament Raycrap. I love being a Leafs fan.
4. Fighting - I will never be able to see eye to eye with the puritans who want to rid the game of this blessed pastime. There's just something about a player dropping his gloves to defend himself that automatically earns respect. Sure, staged fighting and fighting after clean hits can be troublesome, but those are trivial concerns. Hockey remains the only sport where one on one combat is part of the game. This fact should be celebrated not shunned.
3. Hockey Night in Canada - Though they don't have their famous theme song anymore but Saturday nights for me have been about HNIC since I started watching hockey. As a younger kid, it was the only night I was able to stay awake for the whole game to watch my heroes battle on the ice. It remains a fixture in my week, no matter how much my schedule has varied over the years.
2. Overtime - No other sport comes close to matching the drama that is sudden-death OT. The fact that the outcome of a game can be determined at any second ensures that I have my eyes glued to the action the entire time. There is no time to walk around, carry out inane conversations or time to update your facebook status like in other sports. One shot could mean the difference between glorious happiness and miserable tears. The saddest thing that could ever happen would be tampering with this format. A change that I fear is coming
1. Goals - No play in any sport brings me to my feet like a hockey goal. Each one is unique and similar at the same time. It is a strange but lovely contradiction.