Welcome to the forum. Very cool thread.
I was born in 91. All of my cousins, aunts, and uncles were huge Rangers fans. Huge. My cousin -- and childhood best friend -- was 2 years younger than me. I wasn't big into hockey, neither was my dad, until I was about 8 years old. In his basement he had a net set up, and I'd always play goalie. Being 6 and 8, we "pretended" to be players. He'd always be Messier or Leech, in one of the 50 jerseys his dad bought for him. He always wanted me to be Brodeur. I even had a red tee shirt with the name "BRADUR" taped on the back and the #30, with an awful looking "Devils" logo on the front. Eventually we got into video games, and I picked the team Bradur was on. I also remember the second time we ever played NHL 98, I think it was? I injured Messier with Stevens, who soon became my favorite player. So, I guess I started there. Thanks, Ranger fan.
Eventually I got my dad into it. I was an enormous fan in the early 2000s and have been ever since. We got season tickets in 2005, right after the lockout. I'm convinced he got them just to spend time with me -- prior to 2005-2006 he was a "watch one or two games a year" type guy. Well, we had season tickets from 2006 until the market crashed and he lost his job in 2010. Still enormous fans, text eachother during every game.
I guess I became a "die hard" the summer that Gomez left for NY. NHLline.ca started rumors, "Sheldon Souray to Devils -- All But Done" and I scoured the internet basically daily ready for his announcement. This place had a big discussion about it (as did a blog that RD used to run, can't remember the name). I created an account after stalking this place for a few weeks.
Welcome! It's an amazing place with a fantastic community of complete arseholes and know-nothings.