It started with a Facebook message, of all things.
Having written informal hockey articles on the platform’s then-Notes app, I received a message from someone I had never spoken to before. This individual — let’s call him HPM — had written to tell me about a startup sports social media company that he had helped form. While a part of me was excited, a bigger part of me was reticent.
With all due respect to HPM, I was always wary of these types of messages. I did, however, give him the benefit of the doubt and heard him out. That’s when he asked if I’d like to write about my favourite hockey team, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.
I was already going to school for comedy writing and thought, if nothing else, this opportunity would help expand my skills and confidence as a writer. Plus, I had watched every Kings game up to that point in the season despite being three hours ahead in Toronto. So, what started out as a quick article or two per week turned into an everyday thing.
I started out writing game-by-game previews and recaps mixed in with a few opinion pieces. Not too long after, I opened a Facebook account dedicated to my site, which was called “Make Way for the Kings”.
Only a few years earlier, I watched Kings game thinking how great it would be to connect with fans from beyond, especially California. Thanks to social media, that ultimately became a reality.
In the years since, I’ve made some friends, many acquaintances and even met a few so-called haters. Overall, though, it was an amazing experience because, for the first time, I wasn’t judged on my stuttering. Instead, fans saw me for my personality, my intelligence and, of course, my talent as a writer.
Not everyone was a fan of my writing or even me but many more were, and so many appreciated me for what I was. Few, if any, weren’t thrown off that I stuttered. Heck, few wouldn’t have even known about my stutter had I not mentioned it. Even when I met fans in person, regardless if they knew I had a stutter or not, didn’t care that I did. Even if I couldn’t get a word out, they were patient, and I loved them for it. In their eyes, I had established myself so much as not only a talented writer but, among other things, a funny guy who loves the Golden Girls (oh, and the Kings), so whatever impediment I had was neither here nor there.
While I am confident that I would have been welcomed as a part of any fanbase, I am confident — albeit a little biased — in saying that the Los Angeles Kings have the best fans in hockey.
They saw me for what I am and what I contribute and loved me for it — stutter and all — and for that, I am forever grateful.
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