What makes a real hockey fan? You can name the original six teams and you know which two were around for the inaugural NHL season in 1917? You drink beer and rarely mix up Hull and Orr when talking about guys named Bobby? You own a rare, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard trading card? You root for a hockey team that wears a different colored sweater than the teams other fans root for?
This post was inspired by a Facebook comment from an old high school friend, a Los Angeles Kings fan, who made the unmitigated albeit, impassioned statement that Anaheim Ducks fans are not “real hockey fans.” I suspect the answer to the headlined question here is found is the final supposition in the above paragraph.
One would imagine that real hockey fans would do anything to support their team, including disparaging the fans of rival teams when ever the opportunity arises. I have to hand it to Kings fans for that brand of support, and for making their barn a difficult place for visiting teams to play; something a club should aspire to. But that is not exclusive to LA, and yes, I do grant “real hockey fan” status to most Kings fans. Your team has a storied history and they are defending their championship. As I write this post, the Kings are 1 game away from either half the victories needed to complete their cup defense, or all the way out of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll find out tonight.
Let me turn to Detroit fans for a moment. I want to use them as an example of how boosters can help the team on the road. Everyone knows about the octopus tradition. Their fans show up in enemy territory, grabbing up every last seat on the ticket exchange. That’s fine and expected, but may I point out that at last night’s game six between the Redwings and the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a good percentage of the seats were empty? I know the economy in Motor City is depressed, but I have to wonder if there is a finite number of Redwing Fans and a whole lot of them have moved west. Is it good for the sport to call a place where people do not want to live, “Hockey Town?” But I digress.
Ultimately, a real hockey fan is one who roots for his or her team, follows the players, and shows up for the games to scream their lungs out until the final blast of the horn. It’s as simple as that. To say an entire group of fans are not real hockey fans is nothing more than expected bravado.
Do you disagree with me? Then you sir/madam, are not a real hockey fan.