KJR's Mike Gastineau, aka The Gas Man, and 710 ESPN's Mike Salk both love hockey.

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I actually became a fan of hockey by listening to it on the radio.

In the late 1960s I became a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. The great Lloyd Pettit called their games on WMAQ. Long before I saw my first game I learned to love hockey through his voice.

The first game I saw in person was the debut of the Indianapolis Racers in the World Hockey Association in October 1974. I was instantly hooked.

The Racers were perpetually cash strapped and by 1978 they were broke. They released a player named Mark Messier and sold another named Wayne Gretzky. With better luck it might have been the Racers winning all those Stanley Cups in the 1980s.

Among my many great Canucks memories was being in the Pacific Coliseum in 1994 when they beat Toronto in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Canucks fans serenaded Maple Leafs tough guy Wendell Clark with chants of “Wendy! Wendy!” That night Don Cherry sat in on my show for 10 minutes. One of my top all-time memories.

Why should Seattle be pulling for the Canucks? In the words of legendary sports fan Bluto Blutarsky, “Why not?”

Much like fans from Alaska to Montana have adopted the Seahawks as our region’s NFL team, Northwest fans should feel pride in our area’s NHL team. The Canucks make that easy.

The Sedin twins play with mind-blowing telepathy. Ryan Kesler is the kind of tough, stoic leader fans love. Think Edgar Martinez on skates. Like in most sports, the defense is underrated and overlooked and very good.

The goalie has been lights out under tremendous pressure. Roberto Luongo won Olympic gold for Canada last year but until the Canucks win the Cup, conversations about him will include a “yeah, but … ” His 11 saves in 4:23 during the first overtime of Game 5 vs. San Jose was legendary.

The Canucks play a wide-open, fun style of hockey. In a region not exactly brimming with championship trophies, a Stanley Cup win is something all Northwest fans should take pride in.

Mike Gastineau — aka The Gas Man — can be heard weekday afternoons on 950 KJR AM from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

My first Bruins game was actually the first professional sporting event I ever attended.

I was with my dad and the old Boston Garden wreaked of smoke, stale beer and frozen sweat. The building was deafening — the blue-collar crowd shouted obscenities and razzed the opposing goalie for two straight hours. The bright house lights reflected off the ice and made lasting impressions in my retinas.

Hockey is the fastest sport on earth. The players can skate up to 30 mph and the puck can move at faster than 100 mph. And oh yeah, the players crash into each other, the glass, the boards and the ice all the time.

I’ve been a die-hard Bruins fan ever since, and it has led to nothing but heartache.

I saw them swept in the Stanley Cup Final in 1988 and 1990, both times by the monolith that was the Edmonton Oilers. I saw Cam Neely’s career cut short by a pair of cheap shots that ruined his knees and hip. I saw my favorite player of all-time, Ray Bourque, request a trade in 2000 because he had given the team 21 years and they were nowhere near ready to get him back in position to win that elusive Cup. I had to watch Bourque win it in Colorado — with the despised Patrick Roy no less! I watched them draft Joe Thornton No. 1 overall, then waited while he disappointed all of us and was traded to San Jose for pennies on the dollar.

I’ve seen the Bruins take 35 shots, not score once, then stand idly by as the hated Canadiens score on their first shot in forever. I’ve seen that one WAY too many times.

And I watched during the lean years when they missed the playoffs, attendance dipped, and hockey became a dirty word among sports fans who didn’t want to talk about anything not played on a diamond, a court or a field.

This is their chance at redemption. My chance to be rewarded for the money spent on jerseys, tickets and Center Ice packages to watch from 3,000 miles away.

I can’t wait.

Mike Salk can be heard on “The Brock and Salk Show” on 710 ESPN Seattle with Brock Huard, weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon.