“For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been.”"
– John Greenleaf Whittier
“Real elation is when you feel you could touch a star without standing on tiptoe.”
– Doug Larson
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Two drastically different feelings: ultimate disappointment and sheer joy. Utter misery and abundant glee. Sadness and happiness. Feelings which I’m sure most everyone can relate to at one time or another in their lives.
But what if you were to experience both emotions, to their fullest extent, at the same time? Would you feel torn? Confused? Undoubtedly. Couple that with one of the biggest obsessions in your life: hockey. Every hockey fan experiences the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as their team takes them on an inevitable roller coaster ride each and every season. But for the fan who diligently and wholeheartedly supports more than one team…this is a constant state of being.
Having a solid placement in two fan bases is something I’m quite familiar with (for those of you who don’t know me – I’m a Flyers’ fan first and foremost…perhaps my name gave that away?…but I also proudly consider myself a dedicated Habs’ fan). Problems don’t arise too often throughout the 82 regular season games for me… most of the time I am able to solidly support the Flyers and Habs in just about every game they play while vehemently rooting against their opponent (as any good fan is wont to do).
Thankfully these two teams don’t share a division, but it’s still difficult having them both in the same conference. This year my teams only faced each other four times between October and April…and those games were extremely difficult to watch.
But the true test of my blood pressure, stress endurance, and the strength of my nerves came with the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals series. Apparently I’ve either angered the Hockey Gods enough to make them want me to suffer through such an important series – or I’ve honored the Hockey Gods so much that they wanted me to enjoy both my teams on the ice at the same time….it’s all in your interpretation.
Which leads me to the purpose behind this article: There are many different views on “dual-citizenship” in hockey…some good, some bad, some indifferent. I’d like to explore some of the Pros and Cons that come with supporting two organizations (and why I feel it’s a positive thing overall).
- Pro: You get to watch twice as much hockey. Always a plus.
- Con: You watch twice as much hockey. And nothing else gets done around your house. And your DVR is overflowing with every other TV show you’re not watching. Maybe you’ll catch up this summer?
- Pro: It broadens your horizons – You get to learn about different organizations, teams, players, coaching styles…much more variety.
- Con: You have to be able to keep your facts and players straight. I mean who the heck decided that Lapierre and Laperriere should play on these teams? Honestly. Gomez, Gionta, Gorges, Gill, Giroux, Gagne,… ? Enough with the G’s already!
- Pro: There’s a good chance that one of your teams will be doing well, even if the other isn’t.
- Con: There’s also a chance that both of your teams will completely suck and bring double-duty depression.
- Pro: You can meet twice as many fellow fans and get many more points-of-view from alternating perspectives.
- Con: You’ll also have to endure the abuse of listening to your friends on both sides of the coin verbally abuse, harass, and trash each other while putting down and trying to humiliate your other favorite team. Not exactly pleasant, pretty disappointing, fairly hurtful and overall BLAH. Basically, you need to learn to not take it personally. I’m working on that :) (Unless you are directly targeted, then all bets are off!)
- Pro: Your chances of having your team make it to the Stanley Cup Finals is doubled.
- Con: Your teams could end up coming back to both edge into the playoffs at the last minute, both make amazing and incredible comebacks to win their quarterfinal and semifinal series, only to face each other in the Conference Finals and battle it out to play for the Cup. Oh wait, that did happen this year. Guess what? IT SUCKS. Sure, plenty of people will say “well then it’s a win/win for you, right?” Well yes…but not exactly…because it’s also lose/lose.
Anyone who roots for two competing teams knows what heartache it is to watch. Even being a lifelong Flyers fan, I stayed loyal to the Habs in this series and truly wanted to see them do well. (In addition, I actually have more hockey friends who are Habs’ fans than Flyers’ fans – so for their sake I wanted the Habs to succeed, too.)
Every time the Flyers scored a goal, I had a MOMENT of “Yesss!” quickly followed by a sincere “Oh! Noooooo!” – I honestly felt guilty every time the Orange and Black put one in the net of the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. I apologized profusely at my television with every goal, “Ohhhh, I’m so sorry Habs friends!!” I mean, come on – yes, I’m an avid Flyers fan. I want them to win the Stanley Cup. But, I’m also a human being and I care about my friends – which means I don’t want to see them upset because of a loss. In the name of fairness (and exciting hockey) I wanted this series to go all the way to Game 7.
But as the final five minutes ticked down in Game 5…I started to accept the fact that the Habs were not going to advance. Which meant that simultaneously I started to realize that the Flyers would. I quietly offered my condolences to the Habs and their fans – they have much to be proud of – and for the first time in the series, I let it sink in that the Stanley Cup was just four wins away from coming back to Philadelphia.
I understand and appreciate all of the reasons why many Habs fans will NOT be rooting for the Flyers to win. (Thank you to the few of you who WILL be, though!) I understand, and it’s OK – I won’t take it personally :)
In fact, being a Flyers fan means knowing that most of the league is rooting AGAINST you. Believe me, it’s nothing new and a big part of the reason why our fans are some of the most dedicated…not many people have the stomach to put up with being associated with the “hated Broad Street Bullies”. But I do believe that this series will be an exciting one – the Blackhawks will prove to be a formidable opponent for the Flyers, but I think that this Philly team will also show Chicago a thing or two out there as well.
I am truly sorry that the Habs’ journey ended in Philly – Montreal greatly deserves to get that much-desired 25th championship banner hanging from the Bell Centre rafters. I, too, had a period of mourning for the end of their season…wasn’t ready to see them go yet and would have been very pleased to see them advance to the final round. I tip my hat to their fans (the best in the NHL) and the team for a fantastic year.
But please allow me to get really excited to see if this rough-and-tumble, Geico-cavemen-lookalike crew from South Philly could possibly bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup to the Wachovia Center where we would hoist just a third championship banner. Yes, I know many of you are boooo-ing that possibility as you read this. Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s just another consequence of supporting two very different teams.
We may not be an original six team, we may not be a legacy team, we may not have the classiest fans, and we may have a couple of players with some questionable on-ice ethics (by the way – thank you Peter Laviolette for making the right choice in not allowing Daniel Carcillo to step onto the ice in the last two games…brought the team’s credibility up a notch, y’know?) – but we are a team with a lot of heart and a love for the game.
Best of luck to the Blackhawks and the Flyers in the upcoming series – and to any fans out there split between cheering for both of these teams at once. I’m happy to say that this time, I won’t be one of them!