I attended my first hockey game just over 20 years ago (1986). The Leafs were playing the Blackhawks in a playoff game at Maple Leaf Gardens and I was in the second row behind the penalty box. I can't say I remember too much about that day except for a cartoon duck on the scoreboard, Denis Savard taking three penalties, and the Leafs winning big. But I can tell you that was the day I became hooked on hockey.
By default I should have been a Leafs fan, like 99.9% of the city but I was drawn to the exciting style of the Edmonton Oilers and quickly became a Wayne Gretzky fan. On August 9th, 1988, Gretzky became a King and I became a Kings fan for life.
My five greatest moments as a hockey fan are:
1. Canada wins the Gold Medal in Salt Lake
After the disappointment in Nagano, losing just wasn't an option.
2. Kings come into Maple Leaf Gardens and Win Game 7
As a Kings fan living in Toronto - it doesn't get much better than this. Gretzky has often mentioned this one as one of the best games he's ever played.
3. Canada wins the World Cup at the ACC
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for five of Canada's six games in this tournament (two in Montreal and three in Toronto). The best game by far the Semi Final game against the Czech Republic when Luongo started and Lecavalier scored the OT winner but to be in the building when Canada won the tournament was incredible.
4. Gretzky returns to Edmonton for Outdoor Game
When this one was announced I knew I had to find a way to be in Edmonton for the game. Not only did I attend this game in person in the freezing cold but I also stayed at the same hotel as Wayne Gretzky and his family along with Jari Kurri and others, and had the opportunity to meet my hero, #99.
5. Deadmarsh scores in OT to Beat the Wings in 2001
Yes it was just a 1st Round win but this is the only series that the Kings have won since beating the Leafs in 93. No Kings fan will ever forget the comeback in the third period of Game 4 (down 3-0 capped off by Belanger's OT winner) or Deadmarsh's OT goal in Game six.