On Friday April 3, 2015 my now fiancee and I were on our second date. I knew no better place to take her than to the BMO Harris Bradley Center which, at the time, was the home to the Milwaukee Admirals. Trying not to scare her off, I didn’t wear any of my Admirals paraphernalia and didn’t participate in any of the chanting that normally goes along with a game.
It was her first Admirals game, I had easily been to 100 by that time. While neither of us have much memory about the game, the one thing that we do remember is that at 15:14 of the first period the Admirals scored their first goal of the game (and of our young relationship.) That goal was scored by a young prospect named Kevin Fiala.
Many Admirals games and plenty of Predators games (on TV) later, her favorite player quickly became Kevin Fiala. She was devastated during the 2016-2017 Stanley Cup playoffs when Fiala slid into the boards and shattered his leg and she was so excited to see him return at the start of the 2017-2018 season. We were ecstatic for his double overtime winner in game 2 against Winnipeg last season. For our entire relationship, Kevin Fiala has been a central part of our hockey experience as a couple. She was excited to wear her Kevin Fiala t-shirt to our first Predators game at Bridgestone this last month. So naturally Monday’s trade deadline news came with some mixed emotions.
The Fiala trade made complete sense. The Predators needed production now and aren’t in the market to develop players over the course of five years. If given the choice to have a star player today or in a few season, the Predators organization would choose now. However, there was something inherently weird in seeing Fiala in a Minnesota Wild jersey on Tuesday night, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a bit sad.
As a Milwaukee Admirals fan you get used to seeing your players end up with other NHL teams than the Predators. It’s a part of being a minor league fan. The Fiala trade felt different, because of the small role we felt he played in our lives. It reminded me of the relationship we as fans have with our team and with our favorite players. Regardless of if they know it or not, they become a part of our lives and Kevin Fiala felt like that kind of player to us.
So from a couple of Kevin Fiala fans, we hope that Kevin finds his stride in Minnesota and that he leads a successful career there or wherever he ends up. We’ll be rooting for #22 in green (unless they’re playing the Predators of course) and we are thankful for the years that he gave to the Predators and the Milwaukee Admirals.
For anyone looking for a statistical analysis and not mushy gushy fandom, Michael Wade had a great article about the trade HERE.