Tomorrow morning, bright and early (or, really, dark and early), I'm leaving to drive for eight hours to go watch a hockey game or two. No, this isn't because the Thrashers are gone and these are the lengths I have to go to. I can drive to Nashville to see a game, and I have before. This is about more than hockey. This is about going home.
I moved to Georgia in 1992 at the age of about 10 and a half. I was a huuuge hockey fan; I'd been collecting hockey cards for a couple of years, and been watching Brett Hull zip around the ice. I loved everything about the sport, so moving to Atlanta sucked. No hockey, no way to keep up with the Blues except if my grandmother sent me some newspaper clippings… nothing. I was a fish out of water, and even after the Thrashers arrived, I still was. Heck, I had to wait until after I graduated high school before I went to my first hockey game, which was the Thrashers first game as well.
Of course, reading that, it gives you a helpful hint to how many times I've seen the Blues play in St. Louis: zero. Zip. Never. Every time I ever went back to St. Louis it was the summer time save for the occasional spring break, and the family that I visited wasn't into going to Cardinals games, let alone hockey. Honestly, I haven't been to a sporting event at home since 1996, when my family went up to escape the Olympics. The last game I saw in St. Louis was the Braves beating the Cardinals. How's that for a message game?
I've been to Blues games in Nashville and a ton of them in Atlanta. I've seen Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis play, but I had to wait until Brendan Shanahan and Brett Hull were wearing different sweaters before I got a chance to see them. I've seen CuJo in the flaming C, but never in the Blue Note. This just isn't right.
So tomorrow night is a homecoming. I'll finally be able to see hockey in the place that, in a perfect world, I would have been watching it all along. I will be taking so many photographs of everything it'll probably fill up my phone's SD card. I want to remember this weekend, because since I live 540 miles away, I don't know when I'll be able to do this again. Last time it took 12 years between visits. This time, it sure would be nice if the next time I was in town was in June for a parade, but I'll take anything less than 12 years. I've waited long enough — I can't be picky.