If you have just started to follow the National Hockey League, you will likely look for a support team. There are many things to consider when choosing your team. The most important thing to do is research each team and make sure you are fully behind whichever team you pick.
I do recommend choosing a team and dedicating yourself to following them through their journey. Hockey is a great sport. It has everything you could want – it’s a team, contact sport, with passionate and loyal fans.
If you are looking to become one of those loyal fans, here are five tips to help you decide when the team to cheer on to victory.
Location is a huge factor when picking what team you support. Often, it is easy to support geographically close teams. This will be a significantly large aspect of your decision, if you live somewhere with a professional or semi-pro team.
It may seem obvious, but it also makes a lot of sense. There is a level of access to information about the teams close to you that you will not have with teams located in other regions.
Here are some more reasons to support that “hometown” team:
- Broadcast Accessibility – If you support a team from around your geographic location, it will be easier to follow your chosen team. Most television and radio stations only broadcast local games.
If you support the team based near you, then you won’t need to buy any expensive cable packages to watch your team. You will easily be able to click on and pick up the broadcasting of any games.
- Live Games – Hockey is genuinely unlike any other sport and so much of that magic only comes through when you are watching it live. There is nothing like the excitement of being in the stands to solidify your loyalty.
Being able to watch your chosen team warming-up and seeing their camaraderie can bring your fandom to a new level. Also, often during pre-game warmups, you can get closer to the ice and even get autographs.
You will learn the cheers and traditions that hardcore fans often engage in live games. From the wave to specific team cheers, there is nothing more fun than a live sporting event.
- Other Hometown Fans – Another perk to cheering for the local team is to have an automatic group of fellow fans. Many people support their hometown teams for the reasons already listed above. Having a built-in support system is often a necessity for NHL team fans. Though it is great to celebrate with them during the good times, it is even better to have others around when your team is going through a bad streak.
- Regional Pride – Supporting your local hockey team is a great way to show pride in the area you live in. This may be handy if you are looking to grow your friend base or look for new experiences. If you are new to an area, supporting the local hockey team could be a great way to begin finding a group of friends. It’s a quick way to connect with people who have similar interests and gives you an automatic starting topic.
As a flip side, if there is no team local to where you currently live, or you really can’t bring yourself to support them for some reason, you can support a team from the area when you were born or where you lived at some other point in your life.
Supporting teams from where you were born, grew up, or went to school can build all of the same feelings in you. They will still give you the regional pride, access the live benefits, and build a support group when you are home.
2. Study Team History
The history behind NHL teams can give you plenty of reasons to pick that team to support. Perhaps you want to root for a team that has been around since the inception of current professional hockey, a group known as the Original Six.
Perhaps, you like teams that have a history of winning. Looking into teams that have won the most Stanley Cups, have the best records, or have recently increased their win percentage.
Maybe you have a player that brought you into the realm of liking hockey and want to support the team he is on. Anyone of these reasons can help you pick that team that you are going to cheer for.
- Original Six – In 1942, the NHL was reduced to six teams: the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Out of these six teams, the Montreal Canadiens have been around since the inception of professional hockey. They participated in hockey’s inaugural season in 1917 and are the only team from then to still be playing today.
- Most Stanley Cups – This can be a double-edged sword. For example, The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups – but none more recently than 1993. The top Stanley Cup winners are the Toronto Maple Leafs 13, the Detroit Red Wings 11, tied at six the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, and rounding out the top at five with the Edmonton Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Most Playoffs – Another way to pick your hockey team is to go by their playoff appearances or wins. Teams don’t have to win the championship to be a high winning team. The top teams in NHL playoff appearances are the Montreal Canadiens with 32 appearances, then the Detroit Red Wings with 24, the Toronto Maple Leafs with 21, Boston Bruins with 20, and the Chicago Blackhawks at 13. The five teams with the most wins in the playoffs are the same but slightly different. First is still the Canadiens with 23 wins, then the Maple Leafs with 13, the Red Wings 11, the Blackhawks and Bruins 6.
There are plenty more options to use when choosing a team with some winning record to choose from. If you are willing to do it, you can research and find the best team to throw your support behind.
3. Familial Ties
Teams that your family and friends follow are another great way to find a team to root for. Passing down a team’s passion is a great tradition that surpasses sports genres and is incredibly strong in hockey.
If you are getting into the following hockey and are not interested in researching the two above mentioned methods, starting to watch the team that your parents follow is a great way to ease it.
It makes it fun to follow the team, as well. You can watch games with your parents or siblings, use team apparel as gifts, and have hangouts revolving around your team.
You could also turn around and use the team that your family member roots as a way to root for their opponents. A little rivalry can make the game that much more fun – as long as you keep in mind that it’s still a game at the end of the day.
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4. New or Rebuilding Teams
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There is something to be said for cheering on a team from the bottom up. If you have the opportunity to start cheering for a team when they are brand new or are just beginning to rebuild, it is maybe the team you are looking for.
Teams that need to rebuild or are just starting often end up being the ones who draft younger players and do not have the power or money to make many trades for established veterans.
This gives fans the chance to watch a team grow and learn. Younger players often have a lot of raw talent that has to be turned into experienced and knowledgeable playing.
You need to be aware that this often means committing to the team for the long haul. Players do not become stars overnight, and they certainly do not go to the playoffs immediately.
If you are willing to devote yourself to being a fan of a mediocre team for a few years, then you may be able to one day say you have been a fan since the start before they were champions. There is no other feeling like that.
5. Perpetual Losers
Some teams can’t win. No matter how long they have been around, they can’t come out on top. Though they may try harder than any other team, they just never can win. Eleven teams within the league have never won a Stanley Cup.
This is not to say that they have never appeared in the finals. Some have. Others haven’t even made it past the first round of playoffs. It depends on which type of team you are looking to root for.
Are you looking for the teams that try, and try but always seem to come up short? The Buffalo Sabres are the team that almost gets there but just never does. Many people enjoy hoping that this year will be the year they do it.
Maybe you prefer a team that is just always bad. The New York Islanders may have a history, including four Stanley Cup wins but haven’t been right since the early part of the 1980s.
I know it may sound ridiculous to say that you can root for the team that never wins, but history can’t predict the future. Even the team that has never won before can surprise their fans and get the Stanley Cup.
So whether you want to root for the team that almost gets there and can’t or the team that doesn’t seem to stand a chance, you do have a few options throughout the NHL.
In addition to the two above, there are plenty of other ways to choose a team of loveable losers to root for.
For example, maybe you will become a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have only ever notched one win in the post-season. There are countless other loss categories and issues you can use to choose a team of underdogs.
I hope that this will help you find that forever NHL family of fans to throw your support behind. There are some fantastic things that you can bond with fellow fans over, and there is no way to know that until you jump in and get that jersey on.
Trust me when I say that there is no other fandom that is more present than those of the NHL. I do recommend that you first learn some of the basic rules of hockey. There are four divisions with 30 teams in them spread out across the NHL.
They have minor league teams, like baseball and football. There is no professional women’s hockey league within the States, but Canada does have a small professional women’s league. Women do play hockey in the Olympics.
Other basics you should know is that like any sport. The objective is to score goals and prevent the other team from doing so. This is done with a puck and sticks used to pass the puck back and forth and shoot goals. Goals are worth one point, and goalkeepers guard nets.
Do not try to learn all of the rules of hockey at once – there are many rules and almost as many penalties. This is because hockey is a hazardous sport and the goal of penalties is to help prevent injuries to the players. A hockey penalty can be classified as either minor or major.
Though the minor penalties far exceed major ones, referees can assign any minor penalty as a major one. They will look at if there was an intent to cause injury by the one who acted.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you to not only enjoy hockey more but will also give you what you need to choose a team to root for – loudly and proudly. Don’t forget to wear your team colors while doing so.
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