I'm not much of a hockey fan, this is a known fact by most people who know me. However, I do understand the psychology of being a sports fan and the pull that your favorite team can have on your emotions.The Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the Eastern Conference finals Friday evening by the Boston Bruins, and I'm sure the fans aren't feeling too good this fine Saturday afternoon.
To quote Apollo Creed from the movie Rocky III: "Hell, every fighter knows that hurt."
Even though Pittsburgh fell behind in the series, 3-0, knowing die-hard fans like I do, I can pretty much guess the majority of Pens fans were still holding out hope for a stunning turnaround. If nothing else, they were probably wishing for just one victory and another day or two to hope and BELIEVE. And that's what being a fan is all about, it's about holding on to a dream, and in the playoffs (regardless of the format), it's about surviving to fight another day.
As I said, I don't get into hockey, but if I was a fan, I know losing in the Eastern Conference finals would really eat at me. Say what you want, I'd rather see my favorite team lose in the championship round than lose in the penultimate one.
I've seen the Steelers play in many AFC Championship games over the years, but it's the most gut-wrenching game for me to endure. Oh sure, you can probably say that about any round of the NFL playoffs, but I know that if the team can just survive that game, I'll have two weeks to celebrate, hope and dream.
If you hockey fans are anything like me, you probably spent this playoff run watching old Penguins games that led to Stanley Cup championships. And you probably re-lived the same emotions over again as you hoped to experience some new joy this year.
I know when the Steelers make the postseason, I go back and re-watch old Super Bowls and old playoff victories. I eat, sleep and everything my team, hoping for another championship to celebrate.
For my money, there's something to be said for seeing something through to the very end --regardless of the outcome. Now Penguins fans must sit and watch two other teams battle it out for Lord Stanley.
When my team falls short, it's an empty feeling, especially the day after.
But the great thing about being a fan is hope always springs eternal. Things were looking rather bleak for the Steelers just a few months ago, what with so many player-departures, but here we are less than two months from the start of training camp, and the optimism is quickly returning.
It's just a few more months until the start of the next NHL season, Pens fans.
New hope begins in the fall.