Nearly two years ago – on June 1, 2014 – I moved to New York City. The timing coincided with the Stanley Cup playoffs. As I came from Maryland, I was excited to once again be in hockey territory.
For the first time since the 2006-2007 season, my team (the Washington Capitals) had missed the playoffs. Despite my family's vows to disown me, I was thrilled to watch the New York Rangers from afar as they advanced to the final round of the playoffs.
The next summer was different. I strutted around the city in my Capitals jersey as they went through two phenomenal rounds: first against the New York Islanders, and then against the New York Rangers. Both series went to spectacular, nail-biting game sevens. I learned you haven't lived until you're rooting for your home team, in enemy territory, in game seven overtime.
But unlike last year, this season, I'll be watching the games with my homies. Hockey fans make the best friends.
The playoffs begin in a few days, and hockey fans are emerging from the woodwork. Real fans, bandwagoners and sports enthusiasts unite. Here's to cheap beer, dirty bars, heart-wrenching upsets and emotional wins.
But trust me: Watching the game is always the most fun with friends and significant others. On the market? Stop into a bar on game night and strike up a conversation with that cute girl in a jersey. Just make sure it's during intermission.
We're loud and passionate, and we love hockey more than anything. Here's why we make the best friends and girlfriends:
1. We're loyal.
It's not easy being a sports fan, but we're committed. We'll wait – oh, we'll wait – for our teams.
We hate when the refs make bad calls, and we applaud when our players stand up for themselves and attack their opponents. We encourage physicality when one's reputation is on the line, and we'll gladly take the five for fighting and penalty kill if it means showing them who's boss.
2. We're passionate.
There's nothing we'd rather do more than watch our team crush their opponents in the playoffs. We'll bite our nails, tear out our hair and scream, but it's all in the spirit of good sportsmanship and pleas to the hockey gods.
Boys, don't you worry. That passion translates off the ice, too.
3. We like junk food.
Here's to the obvious: You don't have to convince us to get a drink or food during a game. We're confident about our bodies, and we love to have a good time.
There's no one we'd rather do that with than our friends and lovers. Don't stress about us turning down nachos. That's not going to happen.
4. We won't play defense.
It's not music to a goalie's ears, but the (sweet) catch is, we won't play tough offense, either. We're content with chilling at the blue line, making plays and waiting for that beautiful pass. We'll hold down the fort in center ice, and we'll always be open for that saucer.
5. We're OK with assists.
Scoring goals is about teamwork. We're OK getting the one-point assist if it means increasing the scoreboard tally. Sure, getting recognition for the goal is nice, but we care more about the greater good. We'll do what it takes to make the impossible happen.
6. We won't get the “too many men” penalty.
It's a silly penalty and easy to get. But, we'll prevent it.
We play our relationships carefully. We won't ever take you for a ride. But if we do, we know we'll have to kill the penalty. We don't want the bad guys to score.
I became a fan in 2010. Or was it 2011? The timeline is blurry.
But last year, I watched the games in Rangers bars, enduring the torment and insults I rightfully deserved. This year, I found the NYC Caps crew. (They found me, really.)
There's nothing like watching a game in an enemy city, surrounded by people who love the sport and team I'm rooting for. Find your crew, watch some hockey, bite your nails and enjoy the game.
We can't wait to be your friend. But one last thing: If you root for another team, it will never work out between us.