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Tampa Bay Lightning fans share tales of addiction with Capt. Bandwagon

The Canadians called. They want to make Capt. Bandwagon an honorary citizen.

It seems my love affair with hockey set off an avalanche of attention here and in Canada.

Before I admitted my hockey ignorance and professed my newfound love for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this newspaper on Wednesday, I thought I might be alone on the bandwagon, a single hockey virgin in the shadows of the St. Pete Times Forum.

Was this Oklahoma transplant the only one suffering from sudden onset boosterism?

I've learned I'm not alone. You wrote. You called. You poured out your own stories.

I suddenly feel like I'm in an AA meeting.

"You are obviously on your way to addiction," wrote Jinene Harvey, who grew up on the Quebec-Vermont line, where the only television station broadcast hockey, and only hockey.

Elliot Long realized he had a problem when he raced 1,200 miles straight after a family function in Pittsburgh to make the Stanley Cup final in 2004. "It was worth every mile," he wrote.

Marla Short, who moved here from Dallas, went to a Game 2 years ago just for fun. Damned if she isn't a blue-haired season ticket holder now. Even has a life-sized poster of Marty St. Louis on her bedroom wall.

"Still, I don't know the rules," she wrote. "Cross-check, schmoscheck. Whatever. Means nothing to me! But I just love Marty. And Steven."

Mary Ann Massengale of Trinity paid attention to the team during the 2004 Stanley Cup run, but her problem didn't start until this year, when a friend gave her and her husband tickets to a game. They had so much fun they decided they should watch more hockey.

So they upgraded their basic cable, and then felt obligated to watch every single game. When the Lightning made the playoffs, her husband started growing his first-ever beard. The horror!

"This past week, we finally admitted to ourselves that we were totally addicted," she wrote, "and took the next logical step: We purchased season tickets."

The couple's grown children have threatened to unfriend them on Facebook, thanks to their profile pic, snapped before a recent game. Her husband sports a new blue beard, and she wears a temporary Bolt tattoo.

"All I can say is, if they make good on their threat, well, we'll miss them."

A sports radio show out of Edmonton, Canada, called. I was worried they'd razz me about my Johnny-come-lately ignorance. But we found kinship. Turns out Canada hates Alex Ovechkin as much as we do.

The Bolts called, too. They're trying to get Capt. Bandwagon on the ice with former Lightning great Dave Andreychuk for a little one-on-one lesson in cross-checking.

I Googled this gentleman. Says he's 6 feet 4, weighs 220 pounds and is one of the highest scoring left wingers in NHL history, which begs another question: Should I be worried?

"Can you skate?" the Lightning's public relations guy asked.

"Um, sure," I responded. "In-line. Roller. Can't be much different, right?"

"Perfect," he said.

Drop Capt. Bandwagon a line at bmontgomery@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8650.

Tampa Bay Lightning fans share tales of addiction with Capt. Bandwagon 05/13/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 14, 2011 12:08am]
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