My name is Pants, and I support two hockey teams.
A while back, @eyetotelescope suggested we address the idea of liking more than one team. Many of you are in the same boat (er, on the same door) at this treacherous time of year, when four-point games rain down, winning streaks become glorious victory marches and slumps are loose bars on a shark cage discovered after you’re already underwater.
Today is the perfect day for this post. I don’t just support two teams, I picked the Penguins and Capitals. Rather, they picked me. Divisional rivals who actively dislike each other, currently a single point apart in the standings – Pens in the playoffs, Caps in a wild card spot. The Caps have beaten the Pens the last I-have-blocked-out how many times. It’s pretty much the worst pair of favorites available.
They play tonight in DC and I will be there, wearing a Pens jersey.
So, for your cheating heart and mine, here is my guide to supporting two (or more) hockey teams.
Rule One: Know your favorite
I like the Capitals. I love the Penguins. Between the two, there is no contest.
More simply: The Capitals are my Horcrux. A piece of my soul is in there – and while it hurts, sometimes they must be destroyed. Tonight, I don’t care if Slapshot hugs me on the concourse or free ice tea and nachos are hand-delivered at intermission by a sweaty, Under Armor-ed Mike Green. None shall pass. Not this night.
Maybe your favorite team was determined by geography, or you inherited a family allegiance. Perhaps you’re riveted by the excitement of trap defense! (Psych – no one is. Explain yourselves, New Jersey.) When I say I am a Penguins fan:
- Unsuspecting stranger: “Are you from Pittsburgh?”
- Me: “No, I’m from upstate New York.”
- Person, now approaching edge of cliff: “Shouldn’t you like the Rangers?”
- Me: PUSH
Kidding. If a person wants my hockey life story from ’91 to present, they can have it. But it ends like this: Penguins first. Capitals second. Blackhawks third, but I couldn’t maintain this even in a Cup-winning season, so it doesn’t count. Then everyone else, and Flyers/Rangers last. Everybody knows their place.
Rule Two: Own your infidelity
As a Pens fan first, living in the DC area, I must often betray a lovely Caps fan who has unwittingly befriended me.
- Me: “Actually, the Penguins are my favorite team.”
- New friend: “Prepare to die.”
Nowhere does it say you must like only one team. Second (or third, fourth) favorite teams come about in more interesting ways! You move away from home. A player gets traded. Hell, RNH’s eyebrows are the only things selling tickets in Edmonton these days. I’d love to know how your second-favorite teams snuck into your hearts and set up camp.
My story centers around the 2011 Winter Classic. Not the game – David Steckel should walk into my office right now so I can put my stapler through his face. Rather, the lead up to the game ruined me, in three easy steps:
- NHL: “Crosby vs. Ovechkin is a thing. See all these TV commercials? We are making fetch happen.”
- Mr. Pants: “How would you feel about moving to the DC-area?”
- HBO 24/7: Penguins vs. Capitals.
I never liked the Caps growing up, but since they’d switched out of the Pens conference in ’93, I hadn’t cared. The League’s insistence on this rivalry brought the Caps into my home and my Center Ice feed. I tried to resist. This blog, born September 6, 2010, was originally full of me making fun of Mike Green – and meaning it. Then something happened.
Mike Green’s belt. Four years later, still hilarious.
Here’s my original post about my descent into madness. The more I got to know the Caps, the more I liked them. Then I moved to the DC area. I went to my first Caps game two days later and watching my new “home” team, I couldn’t help hoping they did well. Not that well, but you know. Just a little well. Is that so bad?
I KNOW, OKAY?! But it was too late. This is why you should vaccinate your children.
Fine print: We won’t even knock Taylor Swift for performing in nearly every hockey jersey in the league. If the girl likes hockey, she is cool with us. But support too many teams and it’ll look as if you don’t really like any. [Google images gallery] Now, if Taylor turns up with an encyclopedic hockey mind, we retract this statement and offer her a guest blogger password.
Rule Three: Hold your ground
Firmly establish the hierarchy between your teams. It will be the most important component of your fandom. Favorites first, always. Even if it means Caps fans, who were your friends ten minutes ago, are taking this picture of you when the Pens go down 4-1:
Perhaps your teams are in different divisions or conferences (the relief!). But they will eventually play each other. If you’re the two conference type, your greatest dream and worst nightmare could come true at the same time: your teams play each other in the Final. Arrive unprepared and you’ll be like Bella, trapped in the freezing cold and of course you have to cuddle with the shirtless werewolf or die, while the vampire is right outside listening to a pervy inner monologue. It’s your fault for not having a jacket.
Don’t look so comfortable.
This gets tough in tight playoff races, like the Pens and Caps have now, when you kind of have to root for Team #2 to lose against everyone. They’re too close to Team #1, or in front of them, and basically ruining everything. Horcruxes, people. We never said it would be easy.
Rule Four: Have a sense of humor
I have been chirped for my Crosby jersey at games in LA, San Jose, Anaheim, Atlanta (remember that experiment?), New York (Rangers) and, of course, DC. I just laugh. Luckily, most hockey fans are awesome and even if they hate Sid and the Pens, they’re nice to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I prefer to think it’s because I’ve obeyed rules 1-3 and I know my stuff. And I’m just waiting for this moment:
- Announcer: “Penguins goal by Sidney Crosby. His 20th of the season.”
- Caps crowd: “Who cares?”
- Me: “I do. I care.”
But I won’t lie – I hope Mike Green scores one. After the Pens score ten.
Rule Five: It’s your party
How can you like two teams?! Teams that hate each other? How can you be at odds with the fundamental tenet of sports? Obviously you are an idiot/bandwagoner/in it for the hot guys/not a real fan. That argument can (and will) be used against you for a litany of imagined offenses no matter who you root for. We say do what you want. Love who you love. Stay weird.
Finally, if you’re a one-team kind of person, know this: I envy you. I have a lot of love to give, which leaves a lot of open wounds when my teams don’t love me back. I trade slightly better odds of winning for twice the angst come spring and playoffs. Told you I was bad at math.