Terry Frei writing for ESPN.com looks into this question of much debate and gives us his own thoughts and criteria on the subject of... What's a Hockey Town ?
So, many years after first pondering the subject, here are my additional standards for what constitutes a (good) hockey town:
-- At least one radio sports talk show host in town can discuss who should play the point on the power play [...]
-- The fan next to you who knows the life story of every player, can give you the rundown of the organizational prospects in the AHL and in college, and perhaps can excoriate the opposing winger in a voice that can peel paint, is just as likely to be female as male. Or maybe more likely.
-- The hats are thrown on the ice before the puck is fished out of the net.
-- Fans have come to understand the differences between Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And when a writer or broadcaster is stupid enough to call a Slovak a Czech, the e-mails pile up [...]
-- Fans spot the too-many-men-on-the-ice infractions, even the non-obvious ones, and are pointing and yelling before the calls are made.
-- No one is surprised when the anthem singer first breaks into "O Canada" before the game against Edmonton.
-- Fans care not only because they're in fantasy leagues and/or otherwise gamble on the games.
-- Kate Smith is be best remembered for "God Bless America."
-- A bar with a current or former hockey player's name on the sign can be a popular hangout, rather than a one-way ticket to failure.
-- "Shut-ins" who haven't been to a game for years, if ever, circle the games in red on the TV schedule, watch every darned one and come to feel as if they know the fourth-line winger because he's always willing to talk between periods with a towel around his neck.
-- The goalie can't go to the mall … or if he does, he signs autographs before heading into the Sharper Edge.
-- If a disc jockey says "Five for Fighting" or "Barenaked Ladies" is next up, hockey fans get excited, and not because two enforcers brawling or a soundtrack from the Folies Bergere is on tap. They're about to hear from some of their own.
Yeah, I tend to agree with Terry's criteria. How's your town rate? Sadly my own town is not a Hockey Town BUT Hockey in general is very much alive and well out there and there's an ever growing number of places becoming Hockey Towns throughout the land. For instance did you know that for awhile there were more minor hockey league teams in Texas than in Canada? Yep, and now it's even spreading to the traditional football colleges deep in the heart of the lone star state.
The spreading of Hockey... it's a beautiful thing.