10th Season of the Silvertips

Posted: September 22, 2012 in Hockey

Tonight marks the beginning of the magical 10th season for the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.  Looking back over the previous nine years it has been quite the ride with countless ups and nearly as many downs.  It feels like it was only yesterday that I was walking into that arena for the very first time to watch the team’s inaugural home opener.  Little did any of us know then what was in store.

I will openly admit that I was one of the skeptics when I first heard that Everett was building an arena for a hockey team.  Wait, what?  Seriously?  Who on earth thinks that Everett is going to be able to sustain a hockey team?  I knew I’d be into it for sure, but what about the rest of Snohomish County?  Definitely not your stereotypical hockey hotbed.  Oh well, it was going to be hockey in our back yard so might as well enjoy it while it was here – which I didn’t think would be for long.

Inside the barn that first night you could tell that a large portion of the crowd was made up of life long residents in the area who came out just to see what this new exciting chapter in the city’s history was all about.  There were definitely a lot of blank stares as people tried to sort out what it was they were witnessing.  On the other hand, there was a great contingent of us hockey fans who knew exactly what this was all about and were extremely appreciative of it.

As that first season wore on the team turned into not just a local phenomenon but somewhat of an international one as well.  The WHL had never before seen an expansion team put together the success that the Tips had and it all culminated with a trip to the league final.  That post-season run is easily the most valued memory that I have from a fan standpoint with the highlight being the conference championship series against the Kelowna Rockets.  To this day if you bring that series up with anyone who was following the team back then both of you will get shivers down your spine and the adrenaline starts pumping.

Through the years since, the organization has made itself arguably the community’s most cherished possession.  There were the highs of winning three division titles and being the league’s best team during the regular season.  There were the lows of playoff upsets and of the loss of members of the Tips family in Dave Piland, Jordan Mistelbacher and Jim Smith.  There were too many events in between to even begin thinking about mentioning them.

All I know for sure is that it has been a great ride.  My personal pinnacle of which was having the absolute honor of working for the team from February of 2007 to February of 2008; plus a few “one-off” games in the couple of seasons after.   I can truthfully say that every single night – whether in the press box for home games or working road games in my bedroom via radio/internet video feed – I would have a couple of different moments where I got a huge smile and was very grateful that I was actually working in the Western Hockey League for one of the league’s premiere organizations.  I will forever cherish those memories.

Now, here we stand tonight on the brink of a once in a life time opportunity.  It’s not every night that you get to share in such a milestone event with your favorite sports team.  This evening will be full of excitement, reflection and hope – lots and lots of hope for the next ten years.  We have absolutely no idea what to expect between now and then.  Nine years ago, we didn’t know either.

I think it turned out pretty well.

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