To say I didn’t know what to expect in my first season shooting for the NHL would be an understatement. While my hopes of shooting the Stanley Cup faded in the second round of the Playoffs, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was such a wild ride and the non-stop action made it all that much better. Of course when you get to cover the best team in hockey, it definitely makes things more enjoyable.
After years of covering South Florida teams that didn’t win that much or even make the playoffs regularly, it was so much fun to cover the Panthers. The crowds were energetic and the FLA Live Arena was either at capacity or near capacity at every game. I never saw an empty row or two together anywhere in the arena and as a photographer just being in that type of atmosphere made me crave it more.
In hindsight I wish I had been shooting for the NHL earlier in my career. It was so much fun. The checks into the glass where you’re shooting, the puck screaming around the rink, the goals etc. it was all addicting.
There were games I found myself more a fan than a photographer. Some of the moves these players have with the puck while skating at top speed is incredible. I can barely walk 400 feet with out my knee giving out and these guys are throwing their bodies into the glass, skating from end to end, just to do it all again at their next line shift.
I did pick up some hockey terms like line shift.
I know average fans go to see fights in hockey and I saw my fair share. I wouldn’t want to mess with a hockey player; they’re not afraid to throw the gloves off and start swinging. As a photographer it wasn’t always easy to capture the action, especially shooting out of a tiny hole. There were refs and others players often around blocking my vantage point, but the fights I was able to capture was something else. And if you ever do get the rare opportunity to get into a fist fight with a hockey player, well, my condolences.
Photography wise I took a lot of photos I was really proud of. Trying to capture a puck flying at high rates of speed is no easy feat. There are times I shot the shooter and other times I was focused on the goalie. I couldn’t be 100% focused because someone could be checked into the boards in front of you.
Not to mention the fact that you have your lens exposed through a hole as a puck traveling up to speeds of 100mph is flying around. That was my biggest fear; a puck shattering my lens. I saw two instances of that happening this season. One photographer had her the rim around her lens chipped, but another photographer had the puck shatter the glass in his lens completely. When he walked around to the photography section during intermission, I wanted to cry for him. My heart sank. Of course that same night the serpentine belt in my car snapped rending my car undrivable, but that is a story for another day.
It did suck seeing the Panthers get swept by the Lightning in the second round. I really felt they had a chance to go all the way. I truly did. Now I anxiously await next season to start back shooting for the NHL and I’ll be even better this time around as I know all the whats, whos, whens and hows needed to be successful. I just have to put them all together.