It’s Sunday morning and some people are heading to church. But I am here to talk about another type of evangelism, hockey evangelism. I am not encouraging people to worship false idols, the hockey gods, although they are very real and are not to be upset. I am talking about spreading the good word, the word of the puck! Living in the South, sometimes it’s a little harder to find your home congregation of hockey fans. When I meet another hockey fan something magical happens. It’s like being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, but crossing paths with that one person that knows your native tongue. There is the revelatory moment, “I understand exactly what you are saying!” When I began writing at Cardiac Cane friends of mine said, “You have found your people!”
But it’s not good enough for me just to experience fellowship with other Caniacs. I want to convert everyone I know into a hockey fan, whether they want to be converted or not. I do not ring doorbells and hand out schedules, lineup cards and copies of the NHL rulebook. But I talk about hockey. A lot. I try to not go overboard, but frankly that’s hard. So I have devised less heavy-handed methods of bringing in new converts. I have dedicated my end of the week wardrobe to “Inappropriate Work Wear Fridays.” No, that does not entail going to work in hot pants. It means that on Fridays I usually wear a fun t-shirt. Usually they are hockey related. What happens when I do this? Aside from the fact that I look like a complete slob, people ask me about my shirts, hockey or the Hurricanes. I have conversations with current fans and pique the interest of potential fans.
Case in point: one day I was getting a slice of pizza from a local food truck and one of the guys inside asked me what kind of logo was on my shirt. “Ah! This is a Charlotte Checkers shirt!” I was asked if they were a minor league affiliate of the Hurricanes. “As a matter of fact they are.” I explained that they used to be the Albany River Rats but this was their first season in Charlotte. He inquired about how their season went. “Glad you asked. They made it to the conference semi-finals for the Calder Cup but lost to the Binghamton Senators. They had a really good inaugural season!” I walked away from the truck with a mean slice of pizza and left him with a little slice of AHL knowledge. Now there is one more person who knows about the Charlotte Checkers and one more potential fan.
Why do I care so much about spreading the hockey good news? We learned last season from the Atlanta Thrashers how quickly a team can be taken away. I want a rear in every seat in the RBC Center. I want to make sure my team never leaves. But I also just want people cheering on our boys and experiencing the thrill of the game. A lot of people just have to get in the door one time to experience a hockey conversion. Wearing my spirit gear encourages people to ask me about the sport. And when they say “I really should go to a game sometimes,” I can say “You’re in luck! There is one on Friday and there are discounted tickets available.” Maybe they will show up, bring their kids and have a great time. And maybe they will come back for more. I am a Southern hockey evangelist, aiming to bring people to the sport we all love. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a tent to set up. We’ve got a hockey revival going on!
How do you spread the hockey good news? Tell us in the comments!