By Collin Insley, Staff Writer | Follow him on Twitter
Despite almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary (see: the near never-ending perfect weather, a constant parade of beautiful people, and the general multitude of activities available for partaking of at places like the beaches and mountains) being a hockey fan during Summer in the Sunbelt is almost interminably difficult.
Yes, attempting to wait out the Summer months as a hockey fan is difficult just about anywhere, but in what can only be described as extreme bias (being as I’m a born and bred Southern Californian), I can’t help but to think that it’s even harder here in the Sunbelt (and specifically here in Southern California).*
As hockey fans, we’re very lucky to follow a sport for which the season is so impossibly long. From the opening of training camp in September, until the Stanley Cup is lifted in June, we have hockey to occupy us. Hell, we even have tasty morsels to snack on during the off-season. The NHL Entry Draft is in late June, and unrestricted free agency begins on July 1st — a day always circled on fans’ calendars.
However, anything by way of hockey-related news starts to really dry up starting around the middle of July, and through to the end of August — and it’s truly, truly awful. Impossible, even. How do we manage it? It’s a mystery.
But wait…really, if you think about it, hockey fans have, at most, two months out of the year in which there’s little-to-no action with which to occupy ourselves. And we whine and complain?
Yes. Yes, we do. What of it?
That in mind, I’d like to offer a few (hopefully) helpful tips to assist in your getting through your annual Summer of discontent.**
There’s No Hockey To Be Had – What Will You Do?
♦ Play Hockey
Won’t being around something you miss simply make you miss it all the more? Well, yes and no. But there’s no denying the truth that playing a little hockey is an excellent way to pass the time while you wait for hockey season to roll around again. Whether it’s in a beer league at your local rink, organized pick-up games, street hockey in front of your house, or knee hockey in your hallway, this is a nice, cardiovascular-centric antidote to the listlessness, aimlessness, and general malaise that the hockey off-season can cause.
♦ Pick Up a New Hobby
The world is a big place, kiddos — there’s lots to do and see that doesn’t involve skates, sticks, or pucks. Read some books on a topic that interests you, try to learn a musical instrument, start a blog, take the opportunity to do a bit of traveling…it doesn’t matter what you do – Just Do It (note to self: great slogan!)
♦ Try Dating
You’re a hockey fan. Chances are you’re an attractive, humble, generous, and stupendously funny human being. The world deserves for you to share yourself with it. If you don’t have a significant other, get out there and try to date. If you’re lucky, you may even meet another hockey fan with whom you can wallow in misery (or have fun with, whatever), but in the event that you aren’t so lucky, a few helpful pointers:
1) It may take some time to explain that you won’t have as much time for them from the months of September through July, but be patient. Not everyone “gets it.”
2) In the event of you trying to turn your new-found paramour into a hockey fan (and really, why wouldn’t you?), it may take some time to explain the finer nuances of the game — yes, hockey is awesome and the best thing ever; no, “holding the stick,” “The Shanahammer” and “blindside hit” are not subtle, well-crafted sexual euphemisms. Be patient. Not everyone “gets it.”
3) Not everyone immediately grasps the intricacies of how “hockey related revenue” is defined, and how a certain percentage salary roll back will effect the league at large, no matter how often you rant and rave about it, and why come September 15th, you’ll be very grumpy indeed. Be patient. Not everyone “gets it.”
4) Wait until after at least the first date to add “Tonsil Hockey” to the above list of different types of hockey you can play during the off-season. Be patient. It would be ungentlemanly, and against “the code” (whatever that is) to pick on an unwilling foe.
5) Finally, do not, under any circumstances attempt to nickname any part of his or her anatomy after your favorite contemporary hockey player. That would be weird. Everyone knows that it was the pre-War players who had the best names/nicknames. Dit Clapper anyone? Toe Blake? C’mon now!
♦ Pull Those Old Hockey VHS Tapes Off the Shelf
The mid-to-late 90s was the golden age of NHL-produced hockey videos. I’m assuming you have a collection of at least a few. The tape may be damaged from heavy use, and you might have difficulty finding a VCR, but seriously, you should revisit some of your favorite titles. My personal favorite? “The NHL’s Greatest Goals.” It’s hosted by Denis Leary and features cameos from noted hockey fans Dave Coulier and Dan Moriarty, as well as some of the men responsible for the titular “Greatest Goals” — players like Steve Yzerman, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and yes, Darren McCarty. If you can find it, check it out.
(This segment, in particular, inspired me to learn how to pull off a spin-o-rama when I was about 12 years old. It’s been part of my repertoire ever since.)
♦ Read A Hockey Book or Three
There may not be the sheer volume of written work on hockey as there is on a sport like baseball, but there do exist some seriously classic books on the subject. Whether you’ve read them before, or simply want to revisit an old friend, you could do worse than cracking open Ken Dryden’s, “The Game,” Wayne Coffey’s “The Boys of Winter,” or even a more recent work like Jonathan Jackson’s, “The Making of Slapshot.”
♦ Start Following Another Sport
There are plenty of other great sports out there that are just as interesting and fun to watch as hock — Haha…who am I kidding?
♦ If All Else Fails…
Seek help. Your friends and family may not understand your pain, but there are hockey fans all over the world going through a similar thing. And we’re all connected via the internet in the form of social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, discussion forums, even blogs (hey, sort of like this one!). Reach out. Chances are you can help someone else – and you may even make a new friend.
*note: I have zero evidence to support this statement.
** note: This list is in no way exhaustive, and everything contained herein is a mere suggestion. I cannot be held liable for any injury or embarrassment caused by your attempting any of the suggestions.