For years I liked hockey alone. I had friends, but none who watched or cared about hockey. I had family, but on my side they were about football or baseball. And while I am married to a Canadian, my wife really didn't care about the ongoing game, seasons, or events of hockey. As a result I longed for time with her father, who was not bored with chat about the sport, but was very informed, intelligent, and even provocative in discussion about hockey. He didn't like non Canadian players, but that is just fine, an outlook. But due to sports cards and my son loving to play nintendo hockey, I've met numerous hockey friends, and people who are far more informed about sport than I am.
I've watched nowhere near as many games as I'd like. I LOVE hockey. And this year, I plan to watch more. Come spring I am going to watch the Minnesota Boys Tournament.
Going back to mentioning my father in law, and his dislike of players who are not Canadian, or, with special exceptions, "North Americans" so long as they are good players, I am not like that, as I like hockey of any nationality. So, when I watch the highlights of Modo, or HVN or Riga Dinamo, all from Europe, I am thrilled by the play. The chance to see Americans refurbish their career is one thing, but those leagues are not junior leagues for talent, the Swiss League and many of the KHL teams are quite good. Watching the games is hard to do, as I don't have direct access, but I follow in highlights, and read updates with English language sites devoted to the respective leagues. Go RIGA DINAMO!!!