If you are anything like me, you're sick and tired of hearing about sports that are not hockey. Since the end of the season in June, all you have wanted is for hockey to return. Baseball is cool, football is a little better, but nothing compares to hockey. The season is slated to start on October 3, which feels like it cannot come soon enough.
Sure, the concept of the sports are the same, but the styles, of course, are not. Some sports are just bound to be more entertaining than others. I may not speak for everyone, but hockey is one of those sports that bring the highest level of excitement.
Let's Get Physical and Maybe Bloody
Unlike other sports, hockey brings more to the table. Not only is there incredible skill and breathtaking plays, there is also a ton of grit. The NHL is one of the most physical leagues for sports. It allows players to throw full body hits without being penalized, unless warranted. Most checks are clean and play continues. By tolerating this, the sport has become more enjoyable to watch.
Hockey is also one of the only sports you can almost get away with fighting. The refs will allow players to fight, then penalize them with a five minute penalty. After that, you are free to play the rest of the game. Fighting also is much safer than allowing players to throw cheap shots at one another. A fight can get all of the animosity a player has out of their system. By allowing players to drop their mitts and duke it out for a couple of minutes, it ultimately keeps players safer in the long run.
While there are rules for fighting in the NHL, the referees know when it is time to step in and when it is safe to let the players go at it. Other sports do not permit that. For example, if a player physically fights in football, the entire team gets penalized and the player will probably get personally fined. While fighting can frighten some viewers, it brings the extra oomph needed to keep some entertained.
82 Games of Sweating Intensity
The NHL has one of the longest seasons in sports, other than baseball. As a fan, this is amazing. You basically have unlimited chances to see your favorite team play. If that does not excite you, I'm not sure what will. This is extraordinarily important in the long run for teams as well. If players are injured, this allows them to heal properly and still come back with a lot of season left to play. Yes, some injuries may be season ending or take longer to get back to full health, but with a season so long, chances are good that player will come back with games left to play. This lets me and fans all over to feel more comfortable backing players. There is no questions asked, you will definitely see your favorite player hit the ice during the season. Hockey players are hands down some of the hardest working athletes. They want to be out on the ice playing more than you want to see them there.
Another perk of the season being so long is the chance to see more quality hockey. Players and teams will impress you more than once a season. It does not matter if a team goes on a losing a streak, at some point there are set to bounce back. This isn't the case with sports that have shorter seasons. If a football team goes on a seven game losing streak, that's basically half the season. There is no coming back from that.
Bring on the Tears
After a long grueling season, for fans and players alike, nothing is more rewarding than the playoffs. Seeing your favorite team win the Stanley Cup can bring a wave of emotions, some you didn't know you even had in you, over you. When I first saw my team win the cup, I cried with the players. Sure, I had no hand in winning, but being so overjoyed, I couldn't hold my emotions in. It was an indescribable feeling of victory. While other sports also have championships, the NHL's just seems all that more rewarding after all of the hard work and long seasons the players endure.
On the other end of the spectrum, tears may erupt from your team losing. Yes, nothing is more frustrating than following a squad and getting no reward out of it, but let's be honest, the season was still fun. It may not be the most ideal outcome if your team does not do as well as you hoped, but at least you got to enjoy it while it lasted. Try to hold the sad tears back and pray next year brings a turn around, a team can only go up from the bottom, right?
Hopefully, hockey can bring the same sense of enjoyment as it does for me, and so many others around me. Whether you are a die hard fan, or only watching a game or two, you'll see something that enthuses you.
So starting October 3, tune in to your favorite team, get prepared to be thrilled, and urge everyone around you to join in. It's the best time of year, it would be a shame if you missed out.