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Why I’m a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers

It was never really a choice, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

eric lindros Getty Images

Welcome to the refreshed Broad Street Hockey! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts to begin. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones from around our network. Come Fan With Us!

As an employee here in SB Nation management (corporate schmuck, right?), there's a lot of work that goes into a project like we have today. On top of this fresh, clean design you are seeing today on BSH and across our 300 network websites, we have 500+ people telling the stories of how they became fans of their various sports teams. It’s quite cool.

Here at BSH, we'll be telling our stories all day, and hopefully you'll get to know us bit more than you already do -- why Charlie's a nerd; why nobody likes but everybody loves Steph; why Krut sucks.

Me? I feel like my job is to help others tell their story. As the manager of SB Nation's hockey network, I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping folks share themselves, no matter how that manifests. Sometimes it's a Jets fan with a lot of strong opinions about how the legacy of Atlanta has put them so far behind the 8-ball; sometimes it's a Devils fan who bleeds Jersey so much that it's contagious despite all of my preconceived knowledge; sometimes it's helping a new fan in Nashville grow a platform to interact with tens or even hundreds of thousands of fellow fans.

All of it's enjoyable, and helping different folks achieve what they want to achieve in the greater Online Hockey Community is satisfying as hell.

But selfishly? I do this job because of my love of hockey and the Flyers. Like many of us, it started in childhood, when I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I can't really pinpoint the exact moment I decided to start loving the Flyers, or, probably more precisely, the moment it was forced onto me.

But I have a few moments I remember for sure, and all involve weekends with Dad. None of them are really all that significant, but they are the flashing beacon of fandom in the depths of my brain.

I can vividly remember the October night in 1996 when the Flyers opened the Corestates Center against the Florida Panthers, sitting on the floor for the entire three hours, about 10 inches too close to the TV in the living room of my dad’s house in Brigantine. We lost 3-1 against the defending Eastern Conference champs, and I was devastated.

I remember later in that year when the Hartford Whalers won an overtime game, and they looked so excited and I asked the dumb, 7-year-old question: “Why? are they so happy?” .... I mean, it was an overtime win. That was the answer. It was such a minor thing, but it fascinated me.

Before 1996 — before Comcast SportsNet came on the air -- I remember trying to make out the score through the fuzzy, scrambled broadcast on PRISM. It almost never worked, but I sat there and tried for entire games sometimes, while also listening to the radio broadcast. It was futile and desperate, but I would do anything just to get a glimpse of the Flyers.

A few years before ‘96, at what was probably my first game at the Spectrum as a three year old. I couldn’t tell you if the Flyers won or lost, but I can tell you that our seats were probably four rows off the ice behind the goal and .... oh my God, Eric Lindros is in a fight right in front of us. That image is embedded in my memory forever and I love it. (A few years, a No. 88 Lindros jersey became my only shirt. I wore that thing to bed for months.)

There were other moments that helped shape my fandom as I got older. We had season tickets to the ECHL’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, and going to all of those games from 2001 to 2005 is really how I became to learn the intricacies of how hockey is played. We sat about 10 rows behind the visiting bench for those years, close enough to the action to feel it but far enough away to really see it unfold. Slim fan support and an even poorer Southern New Jersey sent the team packing to California, but you could probably call those years formative in my love of not just the Flyers, but hockey.

As I’ve moved away from the Philadelphia area, writing about the Flyers, and following the Phillies, Eagles and Sixers, has kept me feeling close to home. Being on this website all day, and on Twitter in the Flyers community there, makes me feel like I never left home. It’s more than just a sport in that regard. It’s literally home — and it’s important.

I came to this job out of love for this dumb hockey team, and this even dumber sport, and ultimately the most satisfaction I'd ever get out of it would be to cover a Stanley Cup winning Flyers team. A parade down Broad. We came close in 2010, when I was just a naïve little baby who was blown away by a mere 20,000 page views in a day on this site. I think about what would happen in a 2018, or 2020, or 2022 Cup Final, and how we'd probably 10x that 2010 number thanks to the amazing support you have all shown our site throughout the years. I really hope we get to do that someday.

And I hope you like the new look BSH today. I hope you like the stories we’ll share with you over the course of the day here. And if you feel like sharing your story, please head over to our FanPosts section and do so. We’ll be reading and sharing them on our front page, and you’ll have a chance to win a $500 gift card from Fanatics for sharing.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.