I’ve been a hockey fan for three seasons, which may not seem like a lot compared to people who’ve been in hockey jerseys before they could walk. But I picked up the game pretty quickly, and I think I know more hockey than most people who call themselves “fans”. Hockey is misunderstood by way too many people, for whatever reason. Personally, I think hockey is the greatest sport ever – and here’s why:
1. The Stanley Cup – This championship is the hardest one to win. Imagine NFL players being in the postseason 10 times. Games could be a day apart. Playoffs run for almost about two months. During the regular season, the rivalries are great, but hockey is an all out war during the playoffs. A series isn’t over until you have four wins. And then two days later, you’re starting the next series. It’s crazy. And amazing. Side note: Did you know the Stanley Cup floats and can hold 14 beers?
2. The Atmosphere – Walking into an arena for a game is probably one of the coolest feelings in the world. I remember walking down the stairs at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh for my second hockey game ever and being so happy. I remember watching the pre-game video on the big screen and getting chills. I remember Marc-Andre Fleury being the first guy out on the ice and cheering so loud. Even going to Penguins/Captials games in DC make me excited – while there’s no place like your home ice, the atmosphere at hockey games are unforgettable.
3. The Players – These guys are tough. Real tough. You try taking a puck to the face, getting to the bench, make sure there’s no blood, and then getting back on the ice for your next shift. It’s unbelievable how strong these guys are. Imagine getting leveled by Zdeno Chara (Bruins) and getting back up? I probably would be dead. These guys are fast, tough, smart, and talented. I still find it so amazing that I got to witness the greatest player in the world, who happens to be our captain, in action – Sidney Crosby.
4. The Fighting – Fighting is a bit different than it was many years ago. It’s more aggressive, and the guys are much stronger. But it’s still part of the culture. Some guys fight because of a bad hit on their captain and other guys fight because that’s what they’re paid to do. It gets the energy levels up, that’s for sure. And it makes for great entertainment. Does it hurt? Sure. Remember Brent Johnson knocking Rick DiPietro out (goalie fights are awesome, btw)? Or do you remember Aaron Asham leaving Jay Beagle in a pool of blood?
5. The Fans – What would hockey be without its fans? After everything with the lockout, hockey fans stood by their teams. Once the lockout was over, it was like hockey fans came back to life. We don’t care that ESPN never covers the NHL, we don’t care that people think it’s a dumb sport. We just love the game. When fans walk into their team’s arena, they know they’re the reason why players love doing what they’re doing. No matter if you’re cheering for Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Florida, Columbus, Philadelphia, or New York, there’s some underlying respect for hockey fans. Yes, we say bad (very bad) things to each other while the games are on, but if you like hockey, we like (or at least just respect) you back.
Any arguments? Didn’t think so!