There is a clear and definitive reason that the NHL lags far behind the other three major American sports. A reason that fandom is restricted to north of the Mason-Dixon, and specifically only New England, the Tri-State Area, and the northern Midwest (and Canada if you count it, but c’mon now, I know you don't). A reason why a lockout –which every sport goes through- threatened the sustainability of the entire league. A reason why I would rather watch Guy Fieri make a complete ass of himself on the Food Network than watch a hockey game. And that reason is:
Ice hockey sucks.
That’s right, you are hearing this from a native New Englander, one who grew up a mere 30 miles from where one of the Hockey meccas of the universe. The town where the Bruins became a member of the Original 6 and cemented their NHL legacy, where college hockey teams like BC, BU, and Northeastern regularly compete for collegiate hockey dominance and produce some of the nation’s best, and in a state that overall loves its hockey: and I cannot stand it. Here’s why:
Hockey is essentially glorified soccer. It’s an indisputable fact that everyone in America hates soccer (except the Binge’s own Subbi) but these same people worship the sport of hockey. Apparently they are too dense to understand it is the SAME THING. Here’s a breakdown: Nothing happens for 15 minutes. The puck, like the soccer ball, goes up and down the ice and maybe is shot a few times… and then all of a sudden – GOOOOAAAAAAL! Everyone goes nuts. Guess what? SAME exact thing happens in soccer. But for some God-only-knows reason, in most people's eyes, a 3-1 hockey game is thrilling, and a 3-1 soccer game is terribly boring. Ridiculous. Either accept both or none at all. To choose one is just hypocritical. Now, am I saying I wouldn’t attend a hockey game as an excuse to get hammered and yell at people? Lord, no. But I can do that anywhere, believe me. All I'm saying is if you show me a guy that finds watching hockey on television incredibly exciting, I’m going to show you a liar.
The sport allows fighting. ALLOWS IT. You know a sport must be horribly boring to watch when it has to involve fighting in the rules to keep people entertained. Its as if the creators of hockey thought to themselves, "Damn this is gonna be tough to watch, better let em punch each other." And people always use the same argument “Oh fighting is part of the game, hockey players are tough, blah blah blah.” As an obese Ben Stiller so famously says at the end of Dodgeball: spare me. Every sport is brutally tough and physically demanding in its own ways. But hockey is the only sport that shoves their physicality in your face unnecessarily. It demands you to be aware of how tough it is. Seriously... spare me.
Look, the macho hockey persona makes me sick. These guys think they’re the toughest dudes on the planet because they got a black eye or had a couple teeth knocked out. Joke. Meanwhile, on an NFL football field, you usually see a stretcher or cart once a game. Not saying that’s a good thing, or even a contest, but football tries not to make it a part of the game. Hockey has to.
- Sidenote: I could add a bit in here about the low morality that the sport has introduced on our nation’s youth. Stories involving hockey dads killing hockey dads, youth coaches who do not act like role models, and of course, youths being encouraged to drop the gloves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIhIsjMn3oU But this piece will always proudly forgo the moral high road, so don’t be concerned. None of those are reasons why I dislike the sport.
By comparison, basketball is nonstop action for 2 hours; in a good basketball game, points are scored consistently and the excitement never stops. While baseball and football do have breaks, they also have incredible unpredictability with every snap or pitch thrown – you are on the edge of your seat, never knowing what’s going to happen. Hockey brings none of these aspects to the table. An average hockey game will have 55 minutes of boredom with 5 minutes of action sprinkled in, like a couple of chocolate chips on my pancakes. It’s just not enough. Stop wasting America’s time.
Now listen, for those of you who played throughout their youth... I get it. You have an emotional connection with the sport, understand the intricacies and whatnot, you grow out your lettuce and call people “benders”, and that’s all well and good. But the people who really drive me nuts are ones who decide to hop on the NHL bandwagon and decide that hockey, especially – GOOD GOD ESPECIALLY PLAYOFF HOCKEY – is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the rest of us had better shape up and get on board with them. Every bandwagon hockey fan reminds me of Ricky Bobby in his ad for Big Red.. instead they say, "If you don't like playoff hockey then f**k you." Seriously bro? How many regular season games did you watch? My guess is not a lot. It’s a phenomena that occurs annually at this time, and it never ceases to amaze me. So go ahead Boston fans, call me what you will, say I’m an idiot, say I’m missing out on Stanley Cups, etc… but guess what: my teams are the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and UConn athletics (see: bball) each of which have won as much or more than the Bruins in the past 10 years– so really, the joke is on you.
Legendary high school football coach Bill Redell once said, “Hockey’s like watching two guys fish.” Yeah. That’s the whole quote. It’s a real quote too – look it up. Not really sure what he meant by it, but I’m completely on board with his message. I suggest you all consider it tonight.