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If you're not a hockey fan, read this

Hollywood, MD - Once upon a time, I wasn't a hockey fan. I didn't follow any teams nor had a clue how many kinds of shots a player could do or what positions the players played on the ice. 

While I was still living in Middle Tennessee, I decided to follow the Nashville Predators. And I knew that I would be moving to Southern Maryland eventually and would end up going to a few Caps games. 

This is my first Stanley Cup Playoff experience. I'm excited, but being realistic about what my team can do. 

Another reality I've accepted is that there are some people that still aren't hockey fans. These people mean well, but I think that the more hockey fans, the better. 

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Also, fights. 

I write to you, non-hockey fans. Maybe I can change your mind about following hockey. Maybe someone in your life is also a hockey fan.

That person's team has just made the playoffs, and you want to show them that you care.

I have picked up an etiquette guide for you, non-hockey fan, for the hockey fan's most stressful time of year.

Do provide chocolate, alcohol, time and space, etc. after a playoff loss. And don't just say "It's just a game" after said loss. While truthfully it is just a game, it's not just a game. Its an the chance to get away mentally and feel like you're a part of something bigger. 

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Feel free to agree with their exclamations of "What a b***s*** call!" 

Whatever you do, don't try to take the side of the referees or the other team. 

When playoffs come around, your friend's team does no wrong, the opponents are a bunch of cheaters, and the zebras are always trying to screw your team over.

Try to anticipate you may be woken up by horrified screams at the most awful hours of the night because playoff overtime.  And don't tell them they 'should have gone to bed earlier if their team was just going to lose.' 

*Don't jokingly or seriously suggest that playoff overtime should be replaced with the shootout. Not a good idea ever.*

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Try politely accepting requests to switch seats if the hockey fan in your life asks. Don't question the logic behind such a request. I do admit that sometimes entertainment can lack any rational thinking. Some fans will attempt to abide by all superstitions to ensure their team wins.

Your hockey fan friend will thank you later if you pull their hands away from their face if they've chewed their nails to the quick. They may yell at you for taking their focus off the game, but a little intervention goes a long way. Just don't try to talk to them about anything other than hockey during the game. Don't approach them during any of the intermissions unless you want to hear about why their team is the best or worst. Unless you're curious and want to be a hockey fan *wink wink*

There's nothing like a little comic relief provided by poking fun at the intermission analysts or broadcast crew. Letting off steam makes the game more fun than stressful. Just don't suggest that they actually know what they're talking about. 

Above all else, you should become a hockey fan yourself and join the misery that is playoff hockey. Or don't. The choice is yours. 

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Just be careful if you happen to get caught in the situation where two or more friends are fans of teams playing against each other in the playoffs.

Follow your favorite teams at https://www.nhl.com/

Jacqui Atkielski can be contacted at j.atkielski@thebaynet.com

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