How to Deal When You Love Hockey, But Your Team Majorly Sucked This Season

Obviously, if you’ve read any of this blog in the past two years, you can safely determine that I am a tiny bit of a hockey fan. So, recently, faced with a new “my-Canucks-sucked-so-bad-they-didn’t-make-the-NHL-playoffs-and-oh-my-God-the-team-is-going-to-blow-up” world, a thought occurred to me. What’s it like to be a hockey fan in the depths of summer, when you have no one to cheer for? I posed this question to a friend of mine, we’ll call him Junior, and asked him to write his take of life deep into the most exciting time of the year, with nothing at all to be excited about. Is it really about the world’s best and most beautiful sport? Or do allegiances taint the love?

Junior:

It’s Wednesday, May 14th and the eyes of the hockey fans around world (really, mostly North America) are focused on the TD Boston Garden where the Bruins are set to face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their war of attrition 2nd round playoff series. As a Vancouver Canucks fan, you would think that I would be greatly anticipating the prospect of the Bruins’ season ending at home – to a Canadian hockey team no less.

The sad fact is: I just don’t really care either way. I guess it’s a symptom of watching your favourite team’s season end before the playoffs even begin. Without a vested interest in the NHL playoffs, you find yourself saying things like “that Marchand is a talented two way forward” and “Milan Lucic sure seems like a classy fellow.”  Yes – you can become a bandwagon fan for a few weeks and cheer for a feel good story – there’s nothing wrong with that. (Editor’s Note- There is, 100% absolutely something wrong with BOTH of these former statements, and I have supporting evidence to both, but I digress.) But if you have not spent an entire season following a team through its highs and lows (and being a Canucks fan, there have been plenty of crippling, deeply dark, lows lately), that emotional component that makes the road to the Stanley Cup so exhilarating is noticeably absent. In other words, I could give a duck. It’s impossible to feel good about hockey in general when you realize that in the span of about eight months, your team went from being a high-calibre, playoff ready squad, to having two rookies in net, lowest scoring totals in half a decade, and an injury list that could reach Los Angeles.

Playoff Hopes

 And this is how I have come to feel strangely indifferent about the NHL playoffs this spring without the Vancouver Canucks’ involvement. There were never any potential second or third round match ups to worry about. Never any lineup controversies to get into a heated argument discuss with co-workers. Never any ridiculous time pumping quotes to analyze. No, being a hockey fan come playoff time when your team does not even qualify for postseason play is an altogether dreary experience. It’s like knowing someone’s going to win the lottery, someone you know, maybe even like a little, and you’re not even getting a penny of it. Maybe admitting this fact makes me a sad excuse for a hockey fan, but it also makes me an honest hockey fan. I’m a one-team, and one-team only kind of guy.

 The rest of you can enjoy watching hockey well into June. I’ll be sitting by a swimming pool somewhere eagerly awaiting (and maybe dreading) October.

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Hockey 101

I am blogging once again during the intermission of a Canucks game. (Quick update- we’re on a three game win streak, capped by a lovely outing against the in-laws’ team, Detroit, Wednesday night). The theme of tonight’s post is based on the request of my friend to “teach her hockey, fast, so she can talk to a boy”. Well my dear, it’s Christmas, so your wish is my command. (It’s a one-time deal, so consider yourself cashed in). Below is my “cliff-notes” version of Hockey 101 for rookies.

Long story short, she’s interested in a Senators hockey-fanatic guy, and by proxy would like to learn the game to a point where should there be a potential for some quality time, she could pass with flying colours. Let’s start with the basic layout of the game.

Hockey is played in three 20 minute periods with intermissions of 15 minutes between. There are five men per team on the ice during play: the forwards- Right Wing, Center, Left Wing, Left and Right Defensemen and the Goalie. The players are formed into lines (the forwards), and pairings (Defensemen), both rotate throughout the course of the game. The goalie is the only player who normally plays a full 60 minute game, whereas the players average around 15-25 minutes per game, depending upon their position. So, to the rink we go. I’ve attached a photo of the rink layout below to help this explanation along. NHL rink specifications of 200 feet (61 m) × 85 feet (26 m). The corners are rounded in the arc of a circle with a radius of 28 feet (8.5 m). The NHL attacking zones are expanded, when compared to international ice sheets, with blue lines 64 feet (20 m) from the goal line and 50 feet (15 m) apart.

Next up, we go over a few basic penalty calls. Penalties are called when an infraction occurs against the NHL rulebook and the penalized team services between 2 minutes and 4 minutes in the box, giving a man advantage to the opposing team. When a penalty is handed out, the penalized team is on the “PK” (penalty kill) and the team with the man-advantage is on the “PP” (power play). Below is a basic run through of penalties that can be called during play.

Boarding– Checking a player violently into the boards.

Charging- Violently hitting an opponent as a result of speed and distance traveled, or by leaving their feet to deliver a hit.

Elbowing- Using an extended elbow to make contact with an opponent.

Holding- Impeding an opponent by grabbing onto them.

Butt-Ending- Jabbing an opponent with the knob of their stick.

Cross Checking- Checking an opponent with the shaft of the stick held in both hands.

High-Sticking- Hitting a player in the head or shoulders with a stick. A penalty (a single minor-2 minutes if no blood is drawn; a double minor-4 minutes, if blood is drawn).

Hooking- Impeding an opponent by placing the blade of a stick into their body.

All right, after this, I’m not sure anyone can handle more information. But, these are the basics to get you going, to sit through a game, comprehend it, and most of all enjoy it.

Who said you can’t wear heels and be knowledgeable about hockey?