What We Love Most About Hockey

Now that hockey is gone for a while, let’s reminisce about the small things that we love about this game

(Author’s note: this is my second guest post since taking a break from writing full-time. It’s always a pleasure to be back in the S7S community!)

We’re living in strange times right now. Sports leagues have not been affected on a global scale like this since the Spanish Flu, and obviously the most important thing to focus on right now is that people are safe and we are able to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, there have already been thousands of victims, and my heart goes out to the families around the world who have been affected. We still have a long ways to go in this battle, but there is hope. What is important to note during a time like this is that although that should be our number one focus, it doesn’t mean we are not allowed to talk about sports. If anything, it’s a nice break from reading anxiety-inducing news about the pandemic all day long.

With that said, I wanted to take a look at the reasons why we love this sport so much. I’m not talking about loving hockey because it is fun to watch and because there is hitting and fighting. No, I wanted to focus on more niche things that we wish we had once hockey actually stopped.

So here are nine things that make us love watching hockey, and specifically the Ottawa Senators:

Following the tank

This doesn’t happen every season obviously, but for 2019-20 it has been quite satisfying watching the tank results. We knew that the Senators were going to be very bad this season, and they desperately need elite talent at the top of the draft. I don’t think anyone  could’ve predicted the Sharks to be this bad this year, and I feel like that is some sort of cosmic justice for the Senators losing their 4th overall pick last season.

It’s hard not to laugh sometimes and think about the absurdity of not only the top picks, but the other ones as well:

Almost every night, there has either been a Senators or a Sharks game, and considering how bad they have both been, the results have been exceptional. Furthermore, fans can also follow teams near the bottom like Anaheim, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Buffalo while cheering for them to win. Without games to play, we can’t look at the changing odds for the top-3 picks, BUT we can always use our good friend Tankathon.

Drooling over future line combinations

I do it. You do it. We all do it. We want to know what the future lines will be! The Senators in 2020-21 and 2021-22 are going to look vastly different as they integrate plenty of prospects into the lineup such as Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, Logan Brown, Erik Brannstrom, Alex Formenton, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, their two top-5 picks this draft, and others. My latest mock roster for the 2020-21 season looked like this:

That’s without including other top prospects who could eventually make their way into the lineup though, and it’s extremely exciting to think about what this team could look like in a few seasons.

All these picks and prospects give us one thing: lots and lots of hope. Talking about what the future lines and combinations could look like is always a fun exercise, and although we can still do it during this hiatus, it isn’t quite the same without games being played and circumstances changing.

Twitter memes

When I posed a question on Twitter, that was one of the responses:

This is what Connor was talking about:

Accounts like Finnigan’s Ghost add so much entertainment value during a season where there isn’t much to look forward to in the immediate future. Senators fans will also consistently create memes about the Maple Leafs failures, which are always reliable.

This blog of mine from 2017 shows that even back then there were so many quality tweets from the fanbase.

If I could include a million examples of all of my favourite Twitter jokes on here I would, but there’s only so much space. This is irrelevant if you are not on Twitter, but then again, I would recommend getting an account if you don’t. There are so many inside jokes that are unexplainable if you are not part of the community. There are still jokes to be made during this time, but it’s not nearly the same with everything being put on hold.

Fantasy hockey

Whether your league is for money or not, there’s something different about following the NHL when you have a vested interest in the results every night. Being on a fantasy team also makes you a more informed fan because you’re aware of who is having a good season and who is not. The weekly matchups against your friends spices up the regular season even when there isn’t much to cheer for in a losing season for the Senators.

Now, if you’re not particularly good, it can be pretty frustrating to watch your team finish near the bottom of the standings. But to that I say...there’s always next year!

Collectively getting angry at something

This collective “we” essentially boils down to people on Twitter, but it is relevant nonetheless. There are so many times throughout the season where the Senators fanbase gets angry at someone, whether it be a referee, a commentator, or a journalist, and there is a real sense of camaraderie when that happens. For example, a bad goalie interference call by the referees, a commentator getting names wrong, or a journalist bad-mouthing a Senators player all rile the fanbase up at the same time.

I suppose the #MelnykOut movement applies here as well, since 99% of the fanbase can agree that he needs to go. People get mad at plenty of other things, but there’s something different about having a shared sense of annoyance with everyone else at the same time.

Hot mics

Every so often, the microphones down on the ice will catch a player saying a “bad word,” or better yet, a pretty funny chirp. And when that happens, it’s a sneak peak into the hockey world that we rarely get. Due to the rink having boards and glass surrounding it, what is said on the ice is usually a mystery, but that’s why chirps like these are amazing to hear:

Furthermore, it always surprises me to see the kind or relationship players have with the referees because there is a lot of respect amongst them, but neither side is afraid to dish out the trash talk. That’s what makes it great, as the refs let the players vent a good amount.

I’d love to see way more players mic’d up during games.

Award races & milestone chases

There wasn’t much to follow this year for the Senators, but around the league there is always intrigue surrounding the race for the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Calder, Vezina, and Norris, because things can change so quickly throughout the season. Furthermore, I loved getting to watch Alex Ovechkin’s rise in career goal totals as he now sits 8th all-time in goals. The sad thing is that due to the coronavirus and one and a half seasons lost to lockouts, he’s essentially “lost” 80-90 goals, which would’ve put him at 3rd instead.

It’s certainly more fun to talk about awards while players such as Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Daniel Alfredsson, etc. are involved in the process, but it is still entertaining to partake in the debate and look at the stats for yourself. Plus you’ll inevitably get involved in hyperbolic discussion, which can turn into some high-quality entertainment.

Player personalities on display

The Senators (mainly Craig Medaglia and @WoodzGoodz on Twitter) do a fantastic job of showcasing their player’s personalities, which is why it has been so easy to cheer for players such as Dylan DeMelo, Brady Tkachuk, Fredrik Claesson, and so many others over the past few seasons. Videos such as these make it so much easier to relate to them:

Not every team showcases their players like this, but I’m glad that the Senators do. I wonder if they will be able to do any sort of live-streaming during the next few months because that seems easy to do.

Fan Interactions

This is pretty similar to the last point, but the key distinction here is that players might not necessarily be showcasing their funny side, but they frequently show positivity, hope, and love towards their fans. I don’t even have to include examples from other teams in order to show a bunch of examples of players being great humans:

Getting to see the impact that players can have on people’s lives (especially children) is so special, and I might be looking at videos of that in my spare time.

I hope this list has got you to appreciate hockey even more, although it might also make you miss it a lot as well. Whether the 2019-20 season will have a conclusion remains to be seen, but the sport will be back at some point, and it will feel amazing when it does. Just think, the next Senators game could feature one or two top-5 2020 draft picks, and that is going to be extremely exciting to watch.

Hang in there, Senators fans. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves during this difficult time. Thanks for reading.

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