Dear San Diego Gulls,
Thank you. Thanks for an incredible inaugural season. Thanks for returning the sport back to America’s Finest City and making this a hockey town once again. Thanks for providing San Diego sports fans with a game day environment that was second-to-none in the AHL. Thanks for the $2 beers on Friday nights. And thanks for turning this guy into a hockey fan.
Prior to this AHL season, I could count the number of times I had watched hockey on one hand. I had never been to a hockey game of any capacity. I didn’t grow up in a town that had hockey and I just never could get into the sport. I was always fascinated with the incredible athleticism the sport requires, and would tune in for the Stanley Cup playoffs (which to its credit is my favorite post-season of all the major sports) but that was about it, outside of my love for The Mighty Ducks trilogy of the 90’s.
In summation, I never had anything against hockey, I had just never really given it a chance. It was very fast paced, I didn’t know a lot of the rules, and perhaps most importantly, I didn’t have a team to root for other than the Gordon Bombay-led Mighty Ducks from District 5 in Minnesota. Come to think of it, how fitting that my team would wind up being the AHL affiliate of the NHL Anaheim DUCKS.
Back in October, prior to becoming the producer for Trending Now with Kevin Acee, I remember having to chat with the voice of the Gulls and one of my good friends Craig Elsten to figure out exactly how we would want these Gulls broadcasts to look. I knew I would be playing a role in a majority of those games that were going to air over The Mighty 1090 and ESPN1700. What I didn’t know: pretty much everything about hockey.
After getting familiar with the cadence of a hockey game and learning the ins and outs of a San Diego Gulls broadcast, the team officially had my interest. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks into the season where I found myself not working a game back at the radio station and was able to go check out the Gulls in person down at the Valley View Casino Center. Instantly I was hooked.
“The Nest” as I quickly learned it to be known, was incredible. The aforementioned $2 beers, great promotional giveaways, and 12,000+ going absolutely nuts for this AHL squad. Now, I have never been to an NHL game, but I was certainly able to see that there was nothing minor-league about the gameday experience the Gulls provided and will continue to provide for years to come.
I found myself becoming a fan of the team, not just someone who worked on their radio broadcasts. I was tweeting about the Gulls. I was choosing to attend Gulls games instead of other sporting events in San Diego. While on vacation in Utah over New Years, I was on my phone checking for score updates in between faceplants on the slopes. What was happening to me!? I had become a
hockey Gulls fan…that’s what.
So thank you, Gulls. Thanks for a hell of a ride this year! I’m confident that I’m not the only person in this city that became a fan the game thanks to this inaugural season. I absolutely cannot wait for October 16th when the puck drops at the VVCC once again and a new Gulls season will be upon us.
Paul Reindl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ThePaularbearSD