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How hockey has helped me

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Sarah Connors, managing editor of the SB Nation Boston Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, introduced the Twitter hashtag #HockeyHasHelpedMe, but 140 characters just wasn't enough for Raw Charge writer Cassie McClellan to fully express herself.

Mike Carlson

Yesterday, Sarah Connors - the managing editor of Stanley Cup of Chowder - posted the tweet below.

So I joined in the fun:

Instead of going on a Twitter rampage, posting tweet after tweet about it, I decided to write a blog. Because I was totally serious. 140 characters at a time just isn't going to cut it for me.

So let me count the ways....

The very first thing that hockey has helped me is that it's given me a community to belong to. I've always been something of an oddball - and I'm perfectly okay with that, don't get me wrong. But because of that fact of my life, I've never really felt like I've belonged anywhere. Not until I started going to games and playing hockey myself.

Belonging is still a weird feeling for me. And with the interwebz, my community is with me wherever I go. It still takes some getting used to now and then, I have to admit.

When I started blogging, well...that's when I found out that I'm not quite as odd as I thought. Though, to be honest, I never started writing for the notoriety, or because I'd wanted to be a journalist, or even because I enjoyed writing. I got into blogging specifically because I didn't have anyone to talk hockey to at the time, and I needed to get the thoughts about hockey that were in my head out. That is the real reason that I started doing this, and I don't regret starting for an instant.

And I now can honestly say that I know people all over North America and in a few other countries around the world because of it. I can go into most major cities in the US and Canada, and find someone to go have lunch or dinner with. Heck, when I had a layover in Dallas last week while I was traveling for business, I had someone on Twitter ask me about going out for lunch - which was awesome, but I unfortunately wasn't able to meet up with her.

The people that I've met and the friends that I have made are some of the most amazing people I've ever encountered. And some of the most annoying, frustrating, and crazy people I have ever known as well. But I wouldn't have it any other way. That's just how it is with family; you take the good and the bad and you just accept it.

That's the most wonderful thing about the sport, however - we really are a family. All of us. In other sports, people bond with the fans of their team. In hockey, the community transcends teams and even leagues. We are the most dysfunctional group of people that have ever lived, but we are always there for one another. If a member of the hockey community is hurt or isn't doing well, then we all pitch in to help - regardless of team affiliation. And not just writers, bloggers, and fans, but teams and players as well. We are all in this together.

The sport has helped me through some rough times in my life as well. Whenever I need a serious distraction, I can always count on hockey to give it to me and pick me up. You may never speak to the people around you, or the ones on the ice or in the press box, and you might just be another face in the crowd, but we're all there for a common purpose and a shared love of the sport. The rink is a safe place for me to go when I need some comfort; it's definitely one of my happy places.

Hockey has introduced me to people I never would've met, given me experiences that I never would've had the opportunity to have had otherwise, and has been a relatively happy constant for me for 20 years. My life would've been profoundly different had I not become a hockey fan. It's touched pretty much every facet of my existence so that it's almost impossible to imagine how things would've been without it.

I grew up watching football, which is my first love, but hockey is - and will always be - my true love.

Hockey has helped me in so many ways, that I will never really be able to put it all into words. And even these words don't seem adequate enough to express what it's done for me. So all I can really say, I guess, is I that appreciate you all and thank you - writers, bloggers, fellow fans, friends, teams, and players.