[Ed. Note: It is with a heavy heart that I announce the departure of staff writer Ryan Pennington from the site. Ryan is off to pursue career interests that will make it rather tough for him to continue coverage for 100 Degree Hockey. I cannot possibly say enough about how difficult it is to see him go, especially without a proper end-of-season sendoff. He was an excellent contributor, is a true professional, brought an amazing personality to our social presence (pig facts, anyone?) and has become an excellent friend as well. Please wish him the best in his future pursuits.]
I asked Stephen if he was willing to give me an opportunity to merge those interests with a potential writing role. A couple short months later, I found myself sitting in a press box wearing my only suit that fit acting like I was supposed to be there. My assigned seat for my first regular season game was next to Martin Brodeur, then a St. Louis Blues executive who I could've talked to, but I chickened out.
Funny story about that suit: it got me through that entire 2017-18 season, including the Calder Cup playoffs. Headed into the following year, I was determined to up my game. My wife gave me the okay to invest in a more professional wardrobe, and I ended up buying a couple more suits, one custom-made with my initials on the inside of the jacket.
I remember the first night I was able to wear my custom blue sharkskin. The H-E-B Center at Cedar Park will often have events booked in several of the rooms on hockey nights, so it wasn't uncommon for the media meals to be held in the concourse area where the zambonis go. It basically feels like you're eating in a garage where they store pipe and drape. Normally, the visiting team plays hackey sac or soccer on the other side of the room to pass the time before the games.
I got in the salad bar line and surveyed the offerings. The media meals in Cedar Park are phenomenal and have a stellar reputation league-wide. I went to scoop some spinach onto my vacant plate when a soccer ball flew over the pipe and drape and into the ranch bowl. Plop. Ranch went all over my blue sharkskin. I mean, I was covered. It was disgusting and humiliating.
One player from the opposing team that shall remain unnamed peeked around the corner of the curtain, muttered a quick apology, and grabbed the ball before bolting quickly.
The Texas Stars beat the opposing team by three goals that night. It was hard to stay professional in the press box when they scored the go-ahead goal. The suit is fine, by the way. Turns out, ranch comes out pretty easily, especially if its water-based. But I digress.
Nearly three years later, with two and a half seasons under my belt, it's time to move on.
I've got other career pursuits that I could not be more thrilled about. I'd like to thank Stephen for making me a better writer, giving me an amazing opportunity, and trusting me with some ownership in this passion project. I did not expect to make such a good friend in this whole endeavor.
You see, that's been the best part for me--meeting people I otherwise would've never known. But now I do. There's so many of you, and I look forward to staying in touch.
I've more than just suit stories--Calder Cup playoff run stories, me being awkward around hockey celebrity stories, Winter Classic stories, and many more. It's just that the suit one felt like the appropriate one to tell. I think the reason is that I just felt like a fan again that night, and it felt good.
So, I'm a fan again, and I could not be happier. Next time Texas finds twine, I'm screaming my head off. And I may be sitting next to you. Sorry in advance.
See you at the games.