It's been a handful of weeks, but the sting hasn't worn off at all. Personally, I'm still writing this with an enormous amount of emotions swirling around in my heart and a feeling in my gut that continues to sink. It's tough. Two months ago, I didn't think I'd be writing this, or even need to think about this.
Bird Watchers Anonymous has been one of my favorite places to hang out since its inception. I enjoyed the musings, the write-ups, the sincerity and honesty of it all. The team may have had to leave, but the blog certainly doesn't.
I'm suggesting mainly, that we convert the blog into a sort of jack-of-all trades regarding hockey in the south and in non-traditional markets in general. From Atlanta to Arizona, Carolina to Kansas City, Florida, not even just the United States. Hockey has taken a foothold in my native Europe in places you wouldn't believe- the EIHL has a noted fan interest in Great Britain, to the point where the Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers play in (and regularly sell out) arenas larger than some AHL teams.
Hockey in Georgia itself is still thriving. The Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL are thriving. The Columbus Cottonmouths and Augusta Riverhawks play in the SPHL minor league, and Huntsville Havoc play out of Alabama. Alabama itself is having a sort of a hockey rennaissance, with the University of Alabama-Huntsville being the only team in Division 1 NCAA hockey team being south of the Mason-Dixon line, with being two-time Division 2 national champions to boot. The Ice Dogs of Georgia University has been operational for 30 years, although their city rivals in Georgia Tech bested them for the previous season's edition of the Thrasher Cup.
That's just a brief paragraph detailing a small amount of the teams and leagues still in Georgia and Alabama, not to mention the teams in Nashville, Houston, Carolina, Dallas, Tampa Bay, South Florida, and even Louisiana. The Central Hockey League plays through most of the southwest as well, and several of their teams have acquired NHL affiliates.
Of course, there's no meaning to forget about the remainder of the southern teams in the NHL- the Bolts, 'Canes, Panthers, Stars, Coyotes, along with St. Louis, Anaheim, and Dallas, are all "south", and Columbus, Ohio tends to get lumped in with the sun belt despite being more northern than Pittsburgh.
If it's not too hard, I believe we can find a good amount of writers interested in still detailing the individual and original events and struggles that goes on here, in the south. We aren't hockey. That's Canada's claim.
But one thing we are?
We are united.