I have not followed hockey for many years and yet I grew up in Chicago, home of the Blackhawks and my early years and well into my twenties, my love of the game was insatiable. And it all faded away.
I was watching a documentary on the Russian team and their point of view on losing to the USA team in 1980, a huge upset. Honestly, if they played one hundred times more, the USA team would have lost one hundred times. Their team concept of play, speed, strength, passing, shot making ability was next to none. If they played full time in the NHL, they would have been multiple Stanley Cup champions. They were that good.
By then the NHl had developed into a game of thuggery, where fights were a constant. Every team needed an enforcer to protect the star players. Sometimes fights would break out right at the beginning of the game and they hadn't dropped the puck yet.
A game that was a showcase for considerable skills on ice was a game had become boring and predictable and like a jilted lover, I walked away and never looked back.
This was from a guy whose ear was glued to the radio listening to the away games, who yelled at the TV so loud, Mom came downstairs to see who I was talking to, who once got so mad at an outcome of a game that I broke the on-off switch with my hand in frustration. This is from a guy who along with others would travel for hours to play at 4:00 am in the morning in an enclosed arena where we would rent the ice to play like our heroes as opposed to bringing a shovel to the park to help clear the ice so we could play.
This is from a guy, like others loved to hit and knock people down, who were respected for our relentlessness effort of our play, whose shoulders still hurt from knocking into people wearing full equipment and pads while we just wore a jersey. yep, the Chicago way. This from a guy who had great stick handling skills but limited skating skills who became a goaltender because that is what crazy people did.
and walked away from it all, till this day.