So I get NHL Network in my new apartment, and Game 1 of last year’s ECFs between the Rangers and Devils was on the other day (spoiler: Rangers win). Now one of the parts of the game that made me laugh came around the midway point of the second period: The Rangers were exhausted from icing the puck and had all their plugs on the ice, and as you know, you can’t make a change after being called for icing. The ensuing faceoff is taking place, Mike Rupp and Ponikarovsky tie up and fall to the ice; the puck is won back to Kovalchuck in the shooting hole, and he fires right into the ass of a sliding Brandon Prust. But a whistle. False start.
So coach Tortorella, being the sly dog that he is, acts like he doesn’t know the rule and can make a line change because the puck was dropped, a shot was taken, and another whistle occurred. Which would totally be a legitimate argument if Torts actually believed that. So Torts, also being the clown that he is, starts yelling at the refs, waving for them to come over and explain, and gives the “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” facial expression and shoulder shrug / arm raise. The ref, being the gullible fool that most are, actually gives him the time of day and presumably, albeit briefly, explains the rule to him. All this nonsense takes an extra 15 seconds or so that the coach’s players wisely use to recover. The fresher Rangers get a whistle shortly after the next faceoff and make a change, all without using a timeout. Mission accomplished.
Which leads us into my next section: the top 10 things that piss you off if anyone but your team does it. And I mean the fans of every other team, not just the fans of the team that yours happens to be playing.
10) Stalling for time
Why you love it: Your guys are dead tired after a minute shift, and now there’s going to be a faceoff in their end. They can’t get off the ice. It’s just “gamesmanship”. Plus it’s fun to piss off the other team.
Why other fans hate it: As if the above example wasn’t enough, there’s more. It’s weird, it seems like every time the Rangers have an elongated shift and take an icing call, Henrik Lundqvist’s equipment seems to fail him, and he has to go the bench to get it fixed, which might take 30 seconds. Just a coincidence, I presume. Every other fan watching the game just rolls their eyes and groans, knowing what the coach or player is trying to do, or pray that it’s a “helmet malfunction.”
9) Obnoxious crowd jeering
Why you love it: MAAAARRTYYYYY! MAAAARRRTYYYYY! MAAAAA—Oh, sorry. It’s great when your home crowd harasses the crap out of the opposing goalie. It makes you feel good inside. “Hahaha, let’s all point and laugh at the fat kid!”
Why other fans hate it: Shutup already. We get it, you can pronounce the opposing goalie’s or player’s name (unless it’s Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson). It sounds immature. It’s worse when the chant involves a curse word, because it makes fans look disrespectful and might turn some parents off from letting their kids watch.
8) Making a big splash in the FA market
Why you love it: Is your team awful? Did your team trade away prospects and picks for garbage that didn’t work out? Are you sick of your team failing year after year? No problem! Just bust out the checkbook and sign whatever player you like who currently doesn’t have a contract, and skip the hassle of giving anything away!
Why other fans hate it: Screw you and your money. That should have been our guy! How shameful of you to just try to BUY a team instead of building one like any respectable team would do. We would NEVER do anything like that! …Oh, both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are available? How much money do we have?
7) Fan pride
Why you love it: Yeah! We have the best fans in the world! Nobody cheers harder or supports our team better than we do! Check out our crazy face paint! Listen to my story of how I’m so faithful that I managed to sit through an entire Columbus Blue Jackets game! Observe our crazzzyyy goal song, rituals, and unique chants!
Why other fans hate it: Uh, how can you have the best fans when we clearly have the best fans? You’re obnoxious.
6) Tanking to get the top draft pick (Fail for nail! Fall for hall!)
Why you love it: Fall for Hall! Fail for Nail! Hop for…uh, Hopkins! We aren’t going to make the playoffs, anyway, so who cares if we win or lose? It’s about the future now! By actively trying to lose games and claim the worst record in the league, we up our chances of drafting the next stud. Or maybe we should just change our name to the Oilers…
Why other fans hate it: It’s nice when you get to play these teams, but it’s just a scumbag thing to do. Some fans actually want to see their teams win. Some fans pay money to see games. And why should your equally awful team be punished for actually trying to win games? People want to see competitive games, regardless of who’s playing. The whole draft lottery system is screwed anyway (see: Oilers getting the #1 pick for THREE STRAIGHT YEARS), but that’s a post for another time.
5) Biased announcing
Why you love it: The poster boy for this point is Boston’s Jack Edwards. He’s openly admitted to calling games in a biased fashion because “that’s what Bruins fans want to hear,” and adding that 95% of people that tune into NESN (New England Sports Network) are indeed Bruins fans. And you know what, he’s dead on. You LOVE it when your announcer is calling the game as if he were sitting right next to you, wearing the same colors and drinking a beer on your couch. You want him to trash talk the other team. You want him to praise all your players. You want him to complain about what may or may not have been a terrible call or missed call that went the other team’s way. It makes you feel better.
Why other fans hate it: What a maroon. You hate when the opposing announcer is badmouthing the other team, sullying a player’s good name, or when he’s all over his team’s or player’s junk, or whines about bad officiating. It makes the announcer sound stupid, and by proxy, it makes that fanbase look stupid. And whether you’re impartial or strongly biased towards that team, it drives you nuts, especially when he tries to compare a victory to a Revolutionary War battle.
4) Anything Sean Avery does (or on-ice shenanigans)
Why you love it: Exhibit A. You absolutely love the agitators on your team. Watching Crosby or another star player get their panties tangled up is as amusing as it is effective. It’s a good thing when a player shows a bit of personality and mixes it up.
Why other fans hate it: Now this is a tough one, because who doesn’t love everything Sean Avery does? Alright, fine, you hate [just about] everything a Sean Avery-type player does, unless he plays for your team (but admit it, you loved the stick waving). He’s “disrespecting the game” or “breaking the code” or “being a weasel.” And you’re right, unless he’s your guy. Then everything he does is beneficial to the team, or just down-right hilarious.
3) Embellishing for calls
Why you love it: Now this is actually tough, because not even the fans of the teams who have a player dive or embellish like it. Personally, I despise diving/embellishing, even when my own team does it. But at the same time, I’m OK with it because not only does it give my team the man advantage, but everyone else in the league does it, so it’s only fair.
Why other fans hate it: 96% of hockey fans* hate diving and embellishing. Tricking the refs shouldn’t be a part of the game. It’s disgusting when a player takes a dive or fakes getting hit in the face and falls to the ice instead of just playing the game. And the league needs to take action to stop it (again, discussion for another time).
*disclaimer: not an actual statistic
2) Defensive/passive hockey
Why you love it: I suppose I should rephrase the point to “successful defensive/passive hockey.” You don’t care how your team gets the job done, you just want the W, whether it means winning 1-0 or 7-6. Maybe we employ that 1-3-1 to preserve our one-goal lead midway through the third. Anything to win.
Why other fans hate it: SOMEBODY HIT SOMEBODY. It’s boring. Clogging the neutral zone and forcing dump-and-chase strategies kills the flow of the game and just makes for dull hockey. Although it can be quite amusing.
1) Complaining about crappy officiating
Why you love it: Your team gets screwed all the time. There’s clearly some conspiracy against your team. Bettman wants your team to fail. Nobody likes you. You never get the calls. When your team’s coach or player complains about the bad calls, lack of calls, or huge discrepancy in amount of calls between teams, it feels a bit like justice. He’s just telling it like it is.
Why other fans hate it: Crosby is such a crybaby when it comes to complaining about calls, right? That’s practically all he does, says the Caps fan. No, wait a minute! He gets hooked, slashed, and slapped all the time because he’s such a great player and that’s the only way to stop him, and he never gets the calls! Ovechkin is the whiner, says the Pens fans. And the fans of the other 28 teams would probably agree that Ovechkin and Crosby are both whiners that need to shutup, but their own star player legitimately has an argument when complaining. And stop complaining about the refs and making excuses, you lost the game because your team sucks, or employs Dennis Wideman.
Anything I missed that cracked your own top-10 list? Messed up the list order? Did I say something stupid? Let me hear it below in the comments!