As our own John Royal reported Wednesday, it appears the Aeros' run as the only hockey in Houston has come to an end. I have been to fewer than five Aeros games. I'm not really a hockey fan. Still, I hate to see any team leave the city, particularly when it is one that represents a sport that will no longer be represented when the team goes.
The truth is, I will miss them for other reasons and they are good reasons. No, seriously, they are. Check them out.
After writing a feature story on Clutch of the Rockets, I gained a whole new admiration for the life of a mascot. That goes double for one who works for a minor league team. The pay must suck and the work is grueling. Plus, not the same kind of glory you get in front of 20,000 fans or more. But the main reason I'll miss him is that he was damn funny. I was at a game once when someone I knew fell asleep in his seat during the pregame warmups. Chilly stood behind him with his mouth right over his head until he woke up freaked out. It was priceless.
4. How the fans hate the Rockets (Les Alexander, specifically).
It's funny that the greatest hatred of any fans in the city of Houston comes not from fans of a local team for a team in another city, but from fans of a local team for another local franchise. Ever since the Rockets gained controlling interest in the Toyota Center -- Alexander was actually leasing from Chuck Watson (he owned the Aeros at the time) when they were both at the Compaq Center -- Aeros fans have been pissed at what they believe is shoddy treatment by the Rockets organization. No doubt that hate will only grow deeper now, but without a gathering place to unleash their collective anger, we won't see it.
Who doesn't love a good old-fashioned hockey fight. When one dude grabs another by the back of his jersey and rips it off over his head while pounding him in the face? Priceless. Now, to see fights like that, we'll be forced to hang out in rough parts of town or in warehouses during bloodsport tournaments. Boo!
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2. Live music at games
Over the years, the Aeros had local bands play during timeouts and at halftime. I had that opportunity myself and it was a blast. In fact, the Aeros definitely knew how to keep fans entertained with things on and off the ice. I'll be sorry to see that go.
1. The fans
Very few groups of fans are as loyal and rowdy as the Aeros' supporters. Perhaps the Dynamo are coming close, and certainly the Comets' fans were insane, but there is something about a bunch of people banded together around a minor league hockey team that says "true fan" to me. I hope hockey makes it back to Houston so they'll be able to get out there and act like maniacs again.