Supposedly, the only constant in life is change. It is no secret that I am not a fan of change. My life has a nice routine to it and I like it that way. I don’t often handle changes to that routine very well. It’s funny because if I were a hockey player this routine would be considered superstition and people would laugh at my quirky behavior. However, since I am not a hockey player this routine is considered to be a sign of OCD that I should probably have checked out by a professional. Truth be told I fear change and when faced with it I usually stare back with a combination of anxiety and disdain.
Sometimes it is hard to be a hockey fan while also being so anti-change since hockey can often be just as fast paced off the ice as it is on. In just a few minutes a team can change significantly by the addition or subtraction of a key player. Although it seems like a lot of hockey teams are constantly switching up their rosters, the trade deadline and the beginning of free agency can easily turn into trade free for alls with updates coming by the minute.
The first time a trade really upset me was when Colby Armstrong was traded to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Although everyone was acting like we were supposed to be happy because we finally had a top notch winger for Crosby, I was on the verge of tears because someone that I really liked as a person was gone. It didn’t help matters any that the longevity of Hossa’s life as a Penguin was always in question. No one was ever really sure that this was a guy here to stay and I don’t think I need to go into how that whole Hossa thing ended up. Although Dupuis has proven time and again to be a valuable commodity, he will never replace good old Army. I still get excited when I hear some comment in passing that Armstrong could once again wear black and gold.
It just kind of blows my mind that someone who can be getting all of this praise for being such an asset to the team on the ice or for being a “character” guy in the locker room could all of a sudden be gone. After all, no one wants to trade you for your bad players, so when someone leaves it’s usually someone you don’t want to see go. Each year I cringe when I hear the trade rumors that start to circulate…Staal, Malkin, Letang, even Sid himself. Whether you admit it or not, I’m sure I’m not the only fan who feels this way. It just seems so unfair that these people who we are supposed to cheer and support could all of a sudden leave, only to return as people we are now supposed to boo and wish ill thoughts upon. It’s like running into the ex that you still love while they’re with their new significant other. Plus, I am then expected to get to know new people that I must also begin to cheer and support. As if I can just turn my emotions on and off like that.
This is nothing new since each season I am confronted with either some unfamiliar faces or faces that belonged to people a season ago I wasn’t supposed to like. However, despite my anti-change attitude, there are times when I am excited and even intrigued by new additions to the Penguins roster. When I heard that we signed Aaron Asham I couldn’t wait to see what he would be like with the rest of the team. After all, this was a guy who used to be a (Gasp!) Philadelphia Flyer.
I used to rely on Inside Penguins Hockey to help me to get to know the new players. However, since they changed their format that’s pretty much out the window. So now I must rely on the things that I hear and the way that they play. There have been some players, such as Bill Guerin and Brent Johnson, who I like immediately. Then there are others like Miroslav Satan that I just never quite warm up to. Then there are the odd occasions when someone comes and goes so quickly I don’t even learn their names.
This week the Pens faithful have had to say goodbye to Alex Goligoski and hello to James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Alex Kovalev. But, as true fans we must learn to accept our team as they are and root them on to Stanley Cup victory. Besides, every player that I support once started out as someone that I knew nothing about and over time I found their pre-game meals and off the ice antics endearing. After all, Evgeni Malkin used to be just another name to me and now I wear that name on my back with pride.