Raleigh, NC – Aug 12, 2011.
To a NHL fan that is not affiliated with a Fan Club or a Booster Club, I can tell you that this type of function is just the thing that makes Hockey fans the best fans in any sport, period.
But don’t take my word for it… I have talked to some of my “FAMILY” and here is what they have to say (along with some more pictures from this event).
“Getting together with friends, but it is more like a family”, said Rick Lind, a past President of the Los Angeles Kings fan club. “It is just a great time all week!”
There are representatives from nearly twenty clubs at this convention. As I have stated in previous articles, there are clubs that are in attendance – that do not have teams in the NHL right now. For folks like Marty Evtushek, a member of the Hartford Whalers Booster Club, he has been attending these events when his team was still a member of the NHL. Even though his beloved “Whale” no longer play for the NHL, he is proud of his club, and still waits the day that the NHL returns to central Connecticut.
“Fun, Friends and Frivolity”, said Marty.
Truer words were never spoken from this man.
To the person that follows a team, it may be tough for him or her to understand why someone would attend an event that your teams rival or staunchest opponent would be in the same building. In the case of this Islander fan like myself – could you imagine fans of my team, and the Rangers or Devils co-existing.
“It is something we look forward to all year”, said Frank Schmitt, a Rangers fan who has attended over 30 of these conventions. Frank is not only my rival, but a friend, whose company I enjoy.
“… we come together as a family. We have something that is truly special and quite unique that no other professional sport has”, said RoseMarie Sheetz, a member of the Philadelphia Flyers fan club. “… and that is the network of fans that get together and keep in touch during the season, and then come to convention to celebrate the greatest sport on earth!”
What I have found out over my 23 years of attending these events, is that once you get to interact with fans from other cities, if you decide to go on the road and follow your team in another city, you at least now have a point of contact. You may be rooting for your guys, but their are friends wearing the opposing colors. In my case, after my first convention, I went to Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Hartford and New Jersey. In every place, I not only saw my guys in action, but I got to hang out with my hockey family.
As the years gone by, a lot of other cities have had their chance to host a convention, as the Hurricanes Booster Club are doing this year. My club hosted this event in 1997, and we showed nearly 300 people a great week on the Island. For next year, the Florida Panthers Booster Club are looking forward to taking the reins and showing all a good time next August.
“It means everything for us”, said Cheryl LaPalme an officer of the Panthers Booster Club,who along with her fellow Panther fans, will get to let everyone know what to expect next August. By the end of the calendar year, information will be sent to the other clubs, letting them know what trips will be planned for pre-convnetion activities, and a theme for the weekend. They embrace the object of the convention, and will continue to spread the message of what this is all about.
“There are no enemies here, just friends”, Cheryl continued. “Everyone that comes become friends and all have a great time.”
After tonight’s pig roast, there was dancing, beverages and lots of conversations. As I sit here in a hospitality room, people are talking about baseball, of course, hockey, as well as a few games of left-right-center going on. One of the best things about convention is that you may not know a specific person, but spend fifteen minutes in a hospitality room, and you are buddies for life.
Tomorrow – I will talk more about the convention. We have our annual ‘meeting'; a decision will be made on who will host this event in 2013 (hint – this team just lost their franchise, and it will not be in the city that the hockey team was at), and our ‘beach party’ theme on Saturday night. John Forslund will be by to hang with us. Chad LaRose, who was at our murder mystery on Wednesday night – may join us again tomorrow.
Good night all!