Growing up on the west coast in Los Angeles during the 80-90's, hockey wasnt the most popular of sports. I grew up watching the Kings on TV before and after they got Gretzky. Once i was old enough to start caring about sports in the 90's, i began to enjoy the sport of hockey. I played hockey on the original nintendo which was "ice hockey". If you all can rememeber it was the game with countries as teams and you chose four players to have on your team. You had choices of the "skinny-fast guy" who couldnt take a hit, the "medium size guy" with decent speed and some physical abilities, and finally the "fat blob" that could bounce anyone off the puck and rip slapshots like al i'afrati but had no speed at all. Any combination of these three kinds of players helped to sculpt the type of team that fit your style of play. This was my favorite game on the nintendo system. Many people liked the game "blades of steel". It was fun because the fighting was more real, but the constant phrase of "cut the pass" throughout the game has left me scard for life.
Moving on up to the next generation, the super nintendo was a thing of beauty! I remember i had rented NHL 93 and played it nonstop one weekend with a friend. We played it so much both nights that i believe he slept over cause there was no stopping the games. If you have seen the movie "swingers", NHL 93 is the game they play where they reference gretzky bleeding on the ice after a cheap shot. This was the next evolution of hockey games on nintendo and it helped pave the way for the best game to this day. In the next year, NHL 94, EA Sports got it right! Everything about that game was perfect. The way the players moved was smooth, the shooting was accurate which left room for individual skill, and the checking was chrushingly fun. The only flaw of that game is the pattented wrap around move. It fools the goalie everytime, but if you are good enough defensively you can stop it, or if you are good enough offensively you shouldnt have to resort to it at any time. It was in this game that i branched out from the kings and looked at all the tallent in the nhl. Playing with each team allowed me to learn the players and get to know who were some of the best players in the league. If you had played the game, you know that some of the best teams were the Kings, penguins, blackhawks, canucks, redwings, sabres, jets, and the rest i cant remember right now...
Steve yzerman was easily my favorite player in the game. I soon translated that into watching him play on TV and learning all i could about the redwings. It was easy to like them at the time because in LA it was considered "gang appearal" to wear kings and raiders clothing. Both types of clothing were banned from public schools because of the gang affiliations. The redwings soon became my new team to support and i slowly faded away from the kings. The redwings were the hot team at the time, but i didnt care. I had a new team and loved everything about them. Along with Yzerman i learned to love Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov. I loved the way Fedorov skated so powerfully on the ice and seemed to blow past everyone. Shanahan seemed like the pippen to jordan in his linemate steve yzerman. Year after year i loved the combination of shanahan and yzerman dominating thier competiton with thier poise and skill. As i left california last year in august of 06 i was both happy and sad when i heard that shanahan had left the wings. Yzerman was now retired and it seemed like their dynamic duo was over. Leaving california and moving to new york i was the happiest person to find out that shanahan left detroit for the rangers. Finally i would be able to see one of my favorite players night after night because hockey is very much a regionally televised sport.
This year has been a privilage seeing a legend like shanahan one the ice night after night on MSGHD throughout the year. From the minute he steped on the ice in New York, the fans have embraced him. It says alot about a guy who goes out for a month due to injury and comes back still leading the team in goals. He truly has a nack for scoring. If you watch him play on the ice, he always finds himself in the right place at the right time to make whatever play necessary to benefit the team. The playoffs are almost here and i find myself giddy thinking about the two months of great hockey that are comming! The rangers are making a strong push to the playoffs. With shanahan on the team they look like a contender at all times. When you add him to the mix of jager, and the rest of their tallent, they just might be able to make a run. Its playoff hockey time!!! Of course ~Go Wings!!!...but shanny...i'll definately be watching you too!