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The Plight of the Californian Hockey Fan

Some guys play some game in some warm-weather state

“I didn’t know there were hockey fans in California.”

That one sentence sums up the challenges that hockey fans like me face every day. Whether it comes from Canadians or Californians, that statement always comes out whenever I reveal that yes, I am a hockey fan in California. Some are clearly joking; hell, sometimes I even state that I’m a “rare hockey fan in California” in a somewhat self-depricating way to get a few laughs. But there’s the underlying belief that California does not house any born-and-bred hockey fans that perpetuates the statement. It’s a belief that, not only is completely and utterly wrong, but also hinders the growth of the sport.

Simply being a fan of a Californian team that is not the Lakers or the Dodgers already is equipped with a certain sense of neglect. The talk about an “East Coast Bias” isn’t just talk – there’s a definite focus on teams in that one time zone. National broadcasts usually feature teams from eastern-based conferences or divisions, if not on the coast then at least east of the Mississippi. It should be expected, what with the time difference that causes the games that start at resonable times for Californians sometimes go past midnight for those in the East. And yet, Californians somehow find the time to watch games that start at 4pm in the afternoon, during work and school and all those pesky commitments. But I digress.

The bias is evident when analyzing the national television broadcast schedule for the NHL. NBC’s entire lineup of games will feature either the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, or Detroit Red Wings. Only one team in the Western Conference, and it’s a team that’s almost further east than Atlanta, Georgia.

“But that’s only 10 broadcasts!” you argue. Well, let’s take Versus’s lineup. The Eastern Conference will have a team playing 93 times. The Western Conference? 59. Or, if you split it up in the traditional line of East v. West thinking, with the Mississippi River being the divisor, the east gets a whopping 123 broadcasts, compared to the west’s 29. Those teams – which make up 37% of the league – get 19% of the national broadcasts. I’m sorry, but that disparity is pitiful.

To highlight the lack of attention for Californian teams, just look at the playoffs. The six game, first round series between the Sharks and Ducks had more games nationally televised than all three of the Californian teams combined during the regular season. And California, at the time, boasted the unequivocal best regular season team in the league and a team only a year removed from a championship. Oh, and the Kings.

But the broadcast discrepencies can be argued about all day – what about the teams themselves?

With the lack of attention on the Californian teams, their great players often fly under the radar. For the Ducks, there’s Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, Jonas Hiller, and Ryan Getzlaf alongside of Selanne and Neidermayer. The Kings have Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, and Alexander Frolov in a completely underrated team. The Sharks have Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, and Douglas Murray as well as their big name stars of Thorton, Heatley, Boyle, and Nabokov. All of these players are either locks, very close, or a few years away from making their respective countries’ Olympic teams. Yet, most people only have a slight name recognition with any of these players, much less the rest of the roster. If there was an award for the most underrated player, I would be that players on Californian teams would make up most of the list. Hell, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau have already gotten underrated nods from James Mirtle and fellow NHL players, respectively.

Murray smash Parros

The rivalries between the teams are as intense as any, especially between the Sharks and Ducks. There’s already this Northern California/Southern California rivalry that’s evident on any Facebook group concerning the state, one that’s intensified when sports are added. That attitude seeps onto the ice, and creates some truely epic matches. One Sharks-Ducks game last year features 64 PIMs given out at the end of the game because of a line brawl. The teams hate each other, they bring their best against each other (save for a certain game 4), and there’s always a fight. Even if it’s just George Parros v. Jody Shelley, one always happens. The lack of coverage for this rivalry is astounding, simply because it is very entertaining hockey.

Recently, with the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy case, the ideas of relocation and contraction have been renewed and tossed around, and not just for the Arizona-based team. Certain hockey “fans” have decided to take that case to point a finger at all the non-traditional market teams, basically those teams that have come around in the 1990s expansion. They argue that some those teams are not doing that well at that gate, and so those areas should be abandoned in favor of more “traditional” markets – specifically, those in Canada.

The trio of Californian cities – San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles – are not immune, although most of the focus is on the two 90s expansion teams. Despite being two of the most successful teams in the 2000s, the aforementioned “fans” want the teams gone. “Hockey shouldn’t be played in California,” they argue, “Not enough history or tradition to keep the sport alive.”

Yeah, Californian teams don’t have that much tradition – you’re not giving them any time to establish it! The Sharks have only been in existance for 18 years; all the kids that were born the year that the team started are just reaching draft age. There hasn’t been a second generation of hockey fans established in the area yet, just a first generation. Tradition is born through parents telling their offspring about the team, about the hated players and the beloved, about crowning moments and shameful ones. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but give the teams five or ten more years and it will.

But even without that established tradition, there still is a love of hockey present in the state. The day after the Sharks were eliminated by the Stars in the 2008 playoffs, one of my classmates decided to wear a Stars Turco sweater. He was shunned all day. I once had a long, in-depth discussion about the Sharks versus the Ducks with a cast member while waiting to ride Space Mountain in Disneyland. Every day at college here in Southern Calfiornia I find a Ducks or Kings fan to talk hockey. Many men around San Jose remain unshaven come April (here is where I pause for you to insert your own Sharks in the playoffs joke).

Bandwagon sign plus Lonely Island reference. How could I not use this photo?

Bandwagon sign plus Lonely Island reference. How could I not use this photo?

“Yeah, but they’re not real fans, just fairweather fans.” Please tell me which team has had a continually high attendence and amount of support despite a losing record, besides the obvious exceptions of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. There are only two that immediately come to mind – the Minnesota Wild and the San Jose Sharks. Yes, the California team that you advocate relocation/contracting. All other teams have gone through periods of little support, even those Original Six and Canadian teams that the “fans” are so in favor of. Remember the 1990s, with the Canadian Assisstance Plan that had to bail out the struggling Canadian teams? Remember the early 2000s, when Boston and Chicago couldn’t sell out their arenas to save their lives? Remember the Dead Things era? People want to watch teams that win, especially if there are a wealth of other options out there.

Really, the hipocracy that pervades discussions about sunbelt teams astounds me. Teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have all had horrible ownership groups and bad on-ice products for a number of years, are held up as candidates for relocation because of the lack of fans. But then the examples of the Dead Things and the Blackhawks in the Bill Wirtz era are brought up, but those are “real hockey fans” because they are “protesting the ownership with their wallets.” Why can’t that be the case with all the sunbelt teams? They have just as bad, if not worse, ownership and management, and yet their lack of fans is somehow worse than other teams’ lack of fans.

And then there’s San Jose, a team that has never had their arena average less than 90% capacity throughout the franchise’s history. This is a team that had a record of 11-71-2 in its second year. A team where you can take the number of wins from any of its first two seasons, add them together, and not have them equal the number of wins the Sharks had in the 08-09 season (granted, that might say more about the 08-09 team, but I digress). There were some horrible teams during the Sharks’ short history, and yet people have always turned out to watch them. Is that the defintion of “front-runner fans”?

East coast Sports Primarily Network

Not only that, but according to last season’s ESPN player survey, San Jose was voted to have the third most disruptive fans. The only teams they trail are Philadelphia, which is notoriously disruptive for all sports, and Montreal, which is somewhat self-explanitory. Now, I know that the disruptivity of fans isn’t the best way to see which fanbase is the best, but it definitely contributes. People – players, broadcasters, visiting fans, and so on – often comment about how loud the Tank is. Are those not real hockey fans?

Maybe 30 minutes outside of San Jose. Warm-weather city my ass!

Maybe 30 minutes outside of San Jose. Try telling me it doesn't snow in CA, I dare you.

Yeah, we have warm weather most of the year, and yeah, it doesn’t snow in San Jose proper (but just try and stop it from falling on the Santa Cruz Mountains), but that doesn’t mean anything, except that we have to pay a hell of a lot more money for housing because of it. People here like to watch hockey, just the same as those back in the Northeast. Actually, we probably like hockey more, because it’s that much harder to get into and support the sport around here. Not only do we have to deal with those “fans” who think we don’t deserve the sport of hockey, but we have to deal with all the people in California who are apathetic about the sport. It is much easier to gain an interest in something if many people around you are interested in it as well.

People argue that hockey needs to go back to its “roots,” specifically, contracting to the Northeast states and Canada (Minnesota can come too). You know what? I think personal computers need to get back to its roots, and should stop shipping anywhere but California, since people here are the only ones that can appreciate computers and technology, because we invented it, right? Enough with the phony computer users, people in the Northeast don’t deserve computers.

See how stupid that sounds? And yet, the essential concept is the same – stopping the spread of something invented in one part of the world from going to another, simply because of an asinine belief that it wouldn’t be appreciated on the same level.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a quote from this amusing hockey book I found that was published way back in 1995:

“Expansion has its drawbacks, but one of the best things about it is when an area that’s new to the game turns on the hockey and then flips out over it. That’s hippie jargon for the nineties’ phenomenon of the San Jose Sharks, who joined the NHL in 1991 and for two years should have been called ‘the Cow Palace Sharks,’ because they played their home games in a dilapidated former livestock arena on the outskirts of San Francisco.”
- Kevin Nelson, Slap Shots.

43 comments
James
James

This is a great article. As a Caps fan all my life as well as every other Washington team, The Western conference is extremely neglected even though Western conference teams have a much higher winning percentage when it comes to an East vs West game.

Brian
Brian

I'd just like to say I'm from boston, but completely support hockey out on the west coast. In fact, after the Bruins, the Sharks are my favorite team in the NHL. Its a misconception to believe that all of us in the east hate expansion teams in non traditional hockey areas, and although I want to see the Hartford Whalers come back, I like seeing the spread of hockey evrywhere in the United States.

Brian O'Shea
Brian O'Shea

I'd just like to say I'm from boston, but completely support hockey out on the west coast. In fact, after the Bruins, the Sharks are my favorite team in the NHL. Its a misconception to believe that all of us in the east hate expansion teams in non traditional hockey areas, and although I want to see the Hartford Whalers come back, I like seeing the spread of hockey evrywhere in the United States.

Curt
Curt

Just thought id share my 2 cents as a canadian hockey fan living on the east coast. While it may be true for the states and, probably particularly in the traditionally "out of market" areas of the states such as california, there is a lot of respect and support for these teams. I know when it comes time for a cup run im on the lookout for who is coming out of the west, for the last few years the west has outplayed the east in my opinion. I love seeing the sharks play and i would routinely stay up past midnight to see the west coast games during the playoffs. ill admit I rarely watch games from the west during the season unless my team (edmonton) is playing. I can understand your frustration with the game and the way its run and you make a lot of good points but I think there is a much greater respect for the west and san jose than you think.

Kyle
Kyle

This is a fantastic article. I live in Southern California (Ducks fan) and it sums up exactly how I feel about being a fan here. I was born in '92 and following hockey my whole life, I have only had a few friends who like it as well. I have been frustrated with the East Coast bias for a while now and it feels good to know it's not just some conspiracy of mine. Thanks for the great article, looking forward to the next Ducks/Sharks game.

Jill
Jill

There are hockey fans in South Florida too believe it or not :)

Landon
Landon

You're a great writer, come by my site: www.hockeyfanland.com Could use some tips & help to grow it. Become a member.

ryan
ryan

i live in the once again hockey prosperous city of chicago. we are lucky to have hockey back in swing in chicago! when our old owner bill wirtz (who apparently hated the blackhawks), died and his son took over (who seems to be a polar opposite of his dad), it was a rebirth of hockey in this area. it is more popular now than it has been in the last 15 years. i wouldnt dream that any area should be without hockey. hockey is the greatest of sports and if a fanbase exists as i know it does in california, then why keep it from them? it only serves to better the game. my aunt who is 60 some years old, LOVES the ducks. she lives in san diego area. my cousins daughters are obsessed with hockey, and know it well! i have been playing for a while now, and they can talk hockey with me without missing a beat. they are also big ducks fans as well. besides all that, as im writing this, there is a foot of fresh snow on the ground and now i have to go shovel. so, when i move to california, itll be nice to have some good hockey around!

Swayze
Swayze

A few things: - San Jose has NOT been talked about in serious terms of re-location, where did you even get that from? Hell, no team from Cali has been. Anaheim was mentioned on a few forums, but that's mainly from people who hate the team. - I sympathize with you on the national coverage issue. Whenever I have a free preview of Center Ice (college student, too poor to pay for it), I ALWAYS watch the kings/sharks/ducks play each other, as they're always very entertaining. They really need to show more Cali teams on Versus. As for NBC, I personally hate when the Red Wings are on it (and i'm a huge Wings fan). I think their coverage is horrible, and fairly biased as well. They're also early games, which is inconvenient and a bit of a day-ruiner on a busy saturday. So if a Cali team were to play a 12:30 game like the east coast teams, it would be shown on the east coast at 9:30am...which is probably why they don't show any. - Phoenix should be re-located to a different market. Other teams that were expansion/relocation cases have the same attendance problems as them somewhat, but the difference is that Phoenix is hemorrhaging money as a much faster rate. So purely from a business sense, they should be moved. - As for the rest of the sunbelt teams, until it gets as drastic as it does in Phoenix, i'm a believer that they should get more time to build a fan base. - Plain and simple: Yes, there is a bit of an "East Coast Bias". But that's because they have more teams, they've had teams for much longer, there's bigger fan bases (i.e. New York Metro fan base vs LA metro fan base), and then the big time zone difference for games.

Canadian Fan
Canadian Fan

Liked the article. it is a misconception in Canada that Americans don't care for the game like we Canadians do. I stand corrected. Sharks are a powerhouse of a team this year and I promise your guys cup isn't far off. Hopefully my Leafs can fend off the shark attacks and the rest of the league for that matter. Anyway great post and see in Vancouver America!!

Wings Fan
Wings Fan

Go Wings Go! Great post....i agree 100%

Mike
Mike

Firstly, I'd like to say this was a great article and a very enjoyable read, and you're spot on for just about all of it. I grew up in Detroit and I've been a die hard Red Wings fan all my life, but now I live in Southern California, and as frustrating as it is to be a hockey fan here sometimes, there is a growing and dedicated fanbase out there, especially for Anaheim. One thing that amazed me, I walked through the Del Amo Mall in Torrance (one of the 20 largest malls in the world) and went to every store that looked like they might have anything sports related and there literally was not one hockey related item of any kind in that entire mall... I can't imagine hockey will ever be as big here as it is in the east, due largely to there being a lack of places for kids to get into the sport and the cost of getting into the game isn't getting any cheaper, but I definitely think the fanbase will grow and the California teams will continue to prosper. I remember being at a Wings/Kings game in LA last year and seeing the place literally half-full of Red Wings fans. This year, Kings fans dominated Red Wings fans in the stands numberwise. I definitely think the Kings continual improvement and a big increas in promotion are helping the team head in the right way. The number of Kings billboards I've been seeing around town and on buses is verging on crazy, but its putting butts in the seats, so job well done. Now if only the Kings could do something about that amazingly cheesy "castle" they walk through coming out of their dressing room. It looks like something made for a high school play...

Clarkson
Clarkson

Maybe you'll even make it past the 1st round of the playoffs !! Wouldn't that be fun ? LOL sea of teal.... sea of chokers more like it.

Scott
Scott

Hey, as a hockey fan in Alabama, I can completely feel your pain. We don't even get Vs. on our cable network, so I'm stuck with NHL gamecenter text "watching" most games. We even have a great collegiate program here in Huntsville (UAH) that can't join a conference because of the travel problems. Thanks for the article. And thanks to the hockey gods for Philly's craptastic season so far.

sharksfan8
sharksfan8

Great blog on West Coast hockey. I am from Detroit but I adopted the Sharks when I moved to the Bay area in the 90's. Just look at which team, today, has the most points in the NHL (hint, it is not an Eastern conference team). Keep up the good work on your blog.

Evan M
Evan M

Great article! I've been a Sharks fan for about 10 years (since I was 11 and the team wasn't that great). I've always noticed the east coast bias in hockey coverage, like when NHL 2nite was on and Barry Melrose basically spent the whole show talking about the eastern conference.

Neil
Neil

Hey there Great article! I'm a Canadian living in Northern California, so I feel like I have a pretty good perspective on things. I would like to point out that the main reason the Western Canadian teams struggled financially in the 90s was the value of the Canadian dollar. Imagine trying to sign a big name player to a contract in USD when the currency you're bringing in from tickets/television is worth 60% of your competitor.

Brian P
Brian P

Definitely a good read. I'm from Canada, I grew up near Edmonton, to be precise, and it always amazes me when I talk to people from that area who talk about how wrong they think it is that NHL hockey is played in a "non-traditional" market. It is little more than out and out hypocracy, as you say. People in Edmonton act like an NHL team is their birthright, when in reality the NHL incarnation of the Oilers are only about ten years older than the Sharks. They talk about the universal support hockey has in Edmonton and Canada, but have a very selective memory when it comes to the mid-1990's, when the team was in dire straits. Most people just blame a corrupt owner for trying to sell the team to out of town interests, but the truth is that the team was lousy and no one was going to the games, and that's the biggest reason the team almost left town. At least the Oilers had their "glory years"; teams in some markets have always been lousy. How can Oiler fans criticize those fans for not going to games when, despite the team just coming off a period of winning five Stanley Cups, the arena in Edmonton was a ghost town in the mid-90's? If the Oilers had begun as a 90's expansion team, particularly if they'd been as bad as the Sharks were during their first few seasons in the league, instead of having Wayne Gretzky fall into their laps, I very much doubt the team would've survived, "birthplace of hockey" or not. I admire Sharks fans greatly for the level of support they've given, despite how bad the team was initially. Lots of people in Canada (many of whom I know personally) are really weird about hockey. They'll bore a non-hockey fan to death explaining all the reasons why it's the best game around, but are thoroughly convinced that it's impossible for people anywhere else in the world can enjoy it as much as we do. They seem to have it in their heads that if people in other areas enjoy the game just as much, it diminishes their own experience somehow, and it doesn't make any sense. I'm a huge hockey fan, but on several occasions I've almost stopped watching in Canada because of the arrogance of my own countrymen when it comes to the game, this "it's our game" crap that people here spout (and the CBC encourages) and almost jingoist attitude towards fans in other countries, and especially towards the southern US. I'm as patriotic as the next person, it just doesn't cloud my view of hockey. It's just a sport, to be enjoyed and discussed and occasionally obsessed over with other fans, wherever they're from.

Sunny
Sunny

Really nicely done! The Hurricanes feel your pain. Although the team has been shockingly bad so far, no one would have predicted that when the TV schedule was put together. So after being in the '09 Eastern Conference finals & losing to the eventual Stanley Cup winners - not to mention actually winning the Cup in '06 - Versus decided those achievements merited showing not one single Canes game the entire season. Not ONE.

ART VANDALAYAWAY
ART VANDALAYAWAY

"So you East Coast Hockey fans, how do you show your dedication?" BY PACKING THE HOUSE FOR EVERY GAME SPENDING MORE MONEY ON OVERPRICED MERCHANDISE WRITING AND PUBLISHING ABOUT 80% OF HOCKEY LITERATURE TAILGATING WHILE OUTNUMBERING THE WEST COAST FANS BY PI TO 1

Pooks Rutherford
Pooks Rutherford

Great article! I have been a Sharks fan since 1998, and a 10-pac holder (I'd be a season ticket holder but I live 60 miles away). I love my team and say phooey to all those elitist East Coast hockey fans! I have recently started doing video tributes to my guys in teal: Getting fans jacked up for the 2009-10 season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN4Uucm40UE Worshipping the finest butts in hockey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnYbhIg6zrs Getting my favorite ex-Shark on "Dancing with the Stars" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab8PcKzWJSE So you East Coast Hockey fans, how do you show your dedication?

Portugal
Portugal

Agreed, 100%. ESPN doesn't do a very good job of promoting the NHL, especially western and expansion teams. I see more coverage of FIFA soccer than I do NHL game recaps.

Sasky
Sasky

As a hockey fan in Australia, I completely understand a large portion of this plight (or it makes sense to me because I live an even extremer version of it). I'm forever latching onto random people in hockey shirts in hope, only to find out they just bought it in travels and don't know what i'm talking about.

Mr. Plank
Mr. Plank

...and here come the trolls.

ART VANDALAYAWAY (IXPORTER EMPORTER)
ART VANDALAYAWAY (IXPORTER EMPORTER)

YOUR A LITTLE TEA POT CALI HOCKEY YOUR FAVORITE PASTIME IS COSMETIC SURGERY AND THIS BIRD COMPLAINS ABOUT COVERAGE HAY WHY NOT MAKE THE SEATS COMBINATION TANNING BEDS WITH SOME BOTOX GIVEAWAYS AT GAMES THERE'S MORE IMPANLTS THEN AOL CDS IN LANDFILLS OUT THERE IN CALI MIGHT AS WELL MAKE THEM SOME TITY PUCKS ITS A NORDIC SPORT LADY AND A 5TH WHEEL IN CALI AT BEST WEARING FLIP FLOPS TO A GAME IS ENOUGH SAID PS THX 4 PRONGER MAKE SURE JUMBO JOE BLOW EATS THOSE BABY CARROTS

AJ
AJ

I am an east coaster who lived in San Jose for a few years while I was going to school. Now, I have definite opinions about "East Coast" versus "West Coast" hockey, but I was always impressed with how much of the Tank was filled at games and how much teal was in the stands. (The one proud exception for me is when the Flyers came to visit. There was a strong orange presence in those games.) My biggest complaint (other than the Sharks sucking hard the years I was there to see them play) was the booing a fight, or more to the point, booing your own player ("he's going to get us a penalty!" - actual pouting comment heard at a game) who stands up for another player on the ice. But at the end of the day, no one in their right mind is going to contract any of the California teams. They all make money and generate revenue from the businesses around them. When people talk contraction, it's about the other Sunbelt...Nashville, Atlanta, Florida, Phoenix, etc. They are not well-supported by business dollars in their areas and they are a financial drain on the League. Often, their sole purpose is to give an easy playoff berth by surrendering 4 or 5 games a year to divisional rivals. (Phoenix seems to be pulling a Major League this year, and I for one am loving it.) As for the national TV coverage? You can have it. As a Flyers fan, I much prefer to the local feed for games. Everytime we have a nationally televised game, all we hear is "neutral" announcers kissing the ass of the other team. I know our announcers are homers, but it's amusing at least. Listening to announcers gush about your opponents in a game, regardless of who they are, gets really annoying.

Bleys
Bleys

Thank you. Could never say it better. The Pond has rocked some long sell-out streaks before. Totally with you on how hockey fans in California have to commit more to the sport. Most people view hockey like heavy metal. Needlessly brutal, just chaos. Neither is entirely that.

stufflife
stufflife

Great! I love that this was picked up by the broader audience. Not everyone who now resides in California was born and raised here. I came from Minnesota in the time between NorthStars and Wild. Actually, I know of quite a few people in the Bay Area from Minnesota originally. Like Molly said, there are lots of other non-California states. I've been curious about this for a while, but why do the divisions have to be cut by East vs. West? Baseball doesn't do that? If it is for the sake of travel, then why is Dallas in the Pacific Division when Colorado is closer? If it's for the sake of "correctness", when why isn't Vancouver in the Pacific Division? Keep up the good work, and show those SoCalites what hockey is.

Nael M.
Nael M.

A better nickname for ESPN would be "Eastern Sports Propaganda Network". All jokes aside, this is great. Just hit every major point of being a fan of the California teams.

Burrowowl
Burrowowl

Plight? What plight? East coast fan just cry themselves to sleep harder when their teams lose.

Angie
Angie

Great article. One does not need to be born in the snow and ice to passionately love hockey.

Chris
Chris

Great post. I feel like some of the problem comes from the post-lockout rebuilding process. The NHL is showcasing its young superstars and trying to rebuild viewership. I feel coverage should integrate more western team coverage to spotlight all the talent out there which you mentioned. However I'm not sure what the catalyst should be if Anaheim winning the cup wasn't enough

Mr. Planj
Mr. Planj

This just might become the manifesto for Californian fans everywhere trying to prove themselves to the hockey world at large. Well-written stuff here mymclife.

gizmo
gizmo

Excellent article! Sums up what I've been feeling as a hockey fan in Southern CA. Our teams are always underrated (who brought the Stanley Cup west of the Mississippi? A California team!). Even if you look minor league, the three california ECHL teams lead the ECHL in attendance. We do exist and we're here to stay.

Molly
Molly

Excellent analysis and quite consistent with what I've seen in years of cheering for the Sharks. I think the other thing people who criticize forget is that California is the land of immigrants - we have people from all over! My husband grew up in Massachusetts as a Bruins fan and has been a Sharks season ticket holder since their 2nd season (and would drive to the Cow Palace from Aptos for games!). Is he suddenly not a real hockey fan because he lives in California now?

ZeroIndulgence
ZeroIndulgence

What gets me the most is that people have definately felt that hockey can work in California for quite some time. At least those who run the NHL. The Kings were founded in 1966 (in the same group with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Minnesota to name a few), and they were founded in LA, where the sun is born. So clearly people have thought hockey could survive in California. Was there always this hatred towards California hockey when only the Kings were out here? I think Canada is still bitter about the Kings stealing Wayne Gretzky.

Matt
Matt

As a fellow Californian fan (Ducks) I must say - Thank you! This was well written and it is exactly how we feel down in Southern CA, except for the greatness of the Sharks :) The rivalry is huge and grows each year. Well done!

downRupLYB
downRupLYB

I can definitely relate to the self-deprecating way of classifying oneself as a "rare Californian hockey fan." I'm still waiting for the day when the joke that "There are only 17,496 hockey fans in the Bay Area" is nowhere even close to relevant anymore [Thanks a lot KNBR]. As to the hockey nativist outlook, I feel those people are basically just looking to use non-traditional markets as scapegoats for the economic failures of the NHL. They probably blame sunbelt teams for the lockout, shootout, and OTL pity points too. If they had their way, they would still be basking in the glory days of a 6-team "National" Hockey League. Thanks for a great read.

Pizzle
Pizzle

This is an amazing article. Well written and expressed all of the feelings I have being a Sharks fan. One day everyone will recognize that the Sharks fans and Californian hockey fans are a die-hard bunch rivaling those in other parts of the country. Unfortunately it may only come when we win the cup. Until then... We ARE the loudest fans in the NHL. We DO know hockey and know it well. We do love our players and the sport in general. East Coast biased be damned!

Barry
Barry

About the Vs. broadcast lineup, Vs. is owned by Comcast which is an east coast based cable company. I agree that NBC is pretty awful when it comes to team variety for their games, but Vs. is a little more spread out. There is still a discrepancy between east and west on their broadcast, but if you cut the US/Canada in half, only 8 or 9 teams (Dallas depending on where your line is drawn) play on the true western part of the continent. Taking that into account, it is probably more of a program scheduling conflict for games scheduled later than 8:00 PM ET than it is a market bias because I can almost guarantee that I could find more Sharks Kings or Ducks fans than I could Predators Canes or Thrashers fans.

J.
J.

Excellent post. I think "true hockey fans" in Canada can't reconcile California and hockey because we beat them in the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. I could go on all day about hockey fans in traditional markets whining about "non-traditional" markets having teams. And the following paragraph extrapolates on the hypocracy you mentioned. Back in 1967 when the NHL expanded to the U.S., the Leafs and Canadiens blocked the addition of Vancouver because they didn’t want a third team eating into their TV rights. And again in 1979 the proposed entry into the league of the WHA.’s three Canadian clubs and one U.S. club was blocked by five N.H.L. teams: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston and L.A. It took a public boycott in Canada of Molson’s products to force the Habs to change their vote and allow Edmonton, Winnipeg and Quebec in. On a personal note, I started playing hockey as a teenager in the D.C. area because I fell in love with the Caps. I had to go out and buy all the equipment with lawn-mowing money and I continue playing to this day almost 20 years later. I wasn't predisiposed to the sport so I didn't have the good fortune of having my parents place me into a mite league at age 6. If that isn't love for a sport, than what is? I won't hear these people North of the border say they love and deserve the sport more than I do. The one thing I've never understood about "hockey fan" is that they'll berate you for not thinking hockey is the greatest sport on the planet, and then they'll whine and cry when a city outside of a traditional market gets a team or has success.

idunno723
idunno723

This article is this awesome: [.............................................................................] I mean it's really, really good. Strangely it makes me hate the East Coast with a passion. Someday I'm going to make a TV network and magazine incredibly biased to the West Coast. For the meantime though let's enjoy the (tiny and very little) advantages of the West Coast. Something about San Jose feels awesome on how great of a hockey city it is, yet no one really knows. I must mention again though, this article brilliant.

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