This post on Puck Daddy got me thinking. And raised my blood pressure (the comments, not the article).
I believe "real" hockey fans root for good hockey. I agree that combining two jerseys is incredibly indecisive, rather stupid, and ... just seems wrong; one should be able to root for both teams but ultimately have the presence of mind to pick one over the other, especially when spending $100-plus per jersey.
But at the same time, chastising others for rooting for two or more teams (as some of the posted replies to your blog exclaimed) and appreciating the talent spread throughout the league, even if it is among rivals, makes as much sense as ... I don't know, heckling the opposing team and its fans when you could be supporting and cheering all the louder for "your" team.
As a self-respecting hockey fan, I root for multiple teams, including rivals. Because I love hockey, at all levels, regardless of the name and/or logo on either side of the sweater.
Kat writes this as a college hockey fan and as such follows certain college players as they transition into the NHL.
As a WHL fan, I completely agree. In fact, I watched hockey for several years before I even “claimed” a team (Go Carolina!). I watch every team. And I do so because a.) it’s hockey and I fucking love hockey b.) there are certain players that I enjoy watching that make it worth watching every team. When I watch two teams play I root for whichever team is playing a better game. Yes, there are teams I like more than other and generally root for them. Or I’ll cheer for anyone playing against the Red Wings, the Ducks, the Sabres, and the Panthers (cuz really, who goes for the Panthers? Kidding.)
Additionally, there are players that are just amazing players, no matter what team they play for and that has to be respected, in my book. I may not give two shits about Phoenix, but enjoy watching Peter Mueller be awesome and Ilya Bryzgylov make great saves. I’ll watch Columbus lose game after game, but holy shit, can that Rick Nash play some fucking hockey. And the Maple Leafs. MLSE should be paying me to sit through that shit, but watching Tomas Kaberle move up the ice (and not shoot, wtf!) is just awesome. And I got sucked into the Leafs because as an American, I always heard stories of Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada. So when I could afford it, I bought Center Ice and got to tune into "Grapes" and his crazy-talk every Saturday night, which meant watching the Leafs. Like a train wreck, I've been unable to turn away ever since.
I have no geographic alliance to any particular NHL team. Although The Hockey News assumes it’s a Californian team so my annual yearbook has a Shark or a Duck on the cover, ugh. As I mentioned, it took me several years of watching hockey before I picked a team to dedicate more time to than others. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a team, although it made it hard to buy merchandise because I never could decide what teams’ stuff to buy. But I was drawn to Carolina not only because of the number of players I really enjoy(ed) watching (Erik Staal, Cam Ward, Aaron Ward, Eric Cole, Frantisek Kaberle, Mike Commodore, Andrew Ladd, Chad LaRose, Scott Walker, Rod Brind’ Amor, Justin Williams, Matt Cullen, I could continue), but also because of their style of play. The aggressive forechecking style that Laviolette uses is risky, which is exciting—when it works (Cup-winning year) and also excruciatingly painful when not clicking—two seasons since Cup).
So name any team in the league and I’ll tell you at least 2 guys on that team I enjoy watching. Does that make me disloyal or a shitty fan? Hell no. It means I love the sport and I appreciate talented players.
And to the commenters on the Puck Daddy article who are asshats and whose only “argument” they could bring up is that women shouldn’t be fans, we should not be allowed to talk hockey but should be talking about kitchen shit, blah blah more sexist dumb shit blah blah, you can fuck right off. You don’t have to agree with Kat. Or me. Or anyone that isn’t you, but please, for the love of all things holy in this world, shut the fuck up. You’re the reason we women hockey fans stick together—because having educated, rational, logical conversation about the sport is impossible with fucktards like you ruining it for everyone.