Have you ever received a gift you never thought would come? Ever been interested in a jaw dropping save or a mind blowing deke? Interested in sharing a passion with a loved one? Well with the hockey season just in week two of the long campaign many new fans looking to enjoy the sport need to determine which team is right for them. However, one might be thinking to themselves which team my new allegiance should be, as this choice might stick with them for life. Reasons such as relocation or expansion, geographic location to you, even sharing a hobby with some loved one and being left in awe by the simple assets of a certain team could help further your thoughts towards your eventual final choice for this decision. Now while there are 31 hockey teams, soon to be 32 with the presumable addition of Seattle, only one team shall receive your undeniable attention on game nights that will lead you to your rising stress level of who will get that next goal. If you’re looking to make the perfect choice for which team to follow, keep reading as you will be able to craft your new loyalty for life with these tips.
One top reason to choose your new hockey team is their location related to you. As a new fan of the sport, choosing your home town team provides you with the best way to learn about your new team. Being able to turn every corner and ask someone a question like “Where’s the best place to watch ____ on game night?” or even just some of the players on the team like the top center or starting goalie and since you're a newbie to your home town team, it will be easy to find out. You will also get to have the chance to join in on the post-game sports talk about how well the team did or didn’t do. On the contrary, unless you're a seasoned veteran of the sport who knows the league like the back of their hand, choosing an out of state team will prove to be very difficult to learn about your new team without searching up players on your own or following the team's social media page due to the minimal amount of coverage for that team in your state. Let’s say you choose to become a fan for an out of state team, you do not get to experience the game night festivities that instate fans endure. It's a Friday night on Long Island, the roads are empty, and the parking lot of every sports bar is packed, the Islanders are playing the Rangers and every goal makes the sports bar erupt with pride from the Islanders fanbase or the Rangers crowd. Or even if you live in Anaheim and wish to catch a Ducks game while their playing the Kings and you watch the game at J.T Schmid’s, being a fan of an out of state team does not provide that same experience of a sports bar packed to the brim with fans ecstatic over each goal their team scores. As a new fan, to lose out on such opportunities like these by choosing an out of state team can prove to limit the amount of interaction that you can get during the game from other fans, unless you go out while your out of state team is playing the home time team. Being stuck at home needing to watch your team alone versus going out on game night and hugging some random guy you just met during the game because your favorite team just scored, that’s two major different perspectives. But, what if you are a diehard fan whose state just received a hockey team by either relocation or expansion?
Living in a state like Washington or even Nevada where there are no hockey teams, it can be tough choosing which team to pick. But what if those states receive an NHL team of their own like Nevada did in 2017-2018 when the Vegas Golden Knights played their inaugural season for the city of Las Vegas? Well many Kings fans who were from around the Vegas area abandoned the Kings for the Knights that season. The city of Las Vegas is familiar with the LA Kings due to the NHL scheduling preseason games in the area, such as the 1991 outdoor preseason game in which the Kings took on the Rangers. When Vegas finally received a team, many King fans in Las Vegas changed their allegiance for the Knights, allowing them to make their ability to root for their home town team possible. The same can be said for the city of Seattle right now, as when a season ticket drive went live to allow fans to put a deposit down in order to receive the tickets, should they get a team, over 10,000 tickets were sold in just 12 minutes, with over 25,000 being sold in under an hour. With Vancouver being the primary team cheered for in Seattle due to its location to Washington, Seattle receiving a team would cause a lot of diehard fans to change their allegiance. When determining the options being weighed in this choice, it is almost inane not to change your fandom to your city’s new team, unless of course you have spent what feels like an eternity rooting for this team. Being able to finally get that dream of a team for your state can be invigorating and lead you to an adrenaline rush never once felt before. Moreover, the same can be said about teams relocating.
Relocation can often leave fanbases angry due to their entire heart being ripped out of their body for the passion they gave that team. However, because of their team relocating, some fans look to change their loyalty to a completely different devotion due to feeling betrayed. For example, in the past decade the once Atlanta Thrashers were relocated to Winnipeg and changed their name into the Winnipeg Jets. Now while many previous Thrasher fans probably followed through with their team’s relocation and became a Jets fan, some fans chose to follow new teams out of spite of the process that their team took to relocate. These fans chose their new favorite team based off the team’s that they saw play against the Thrashers. One fan chose the Blackhawks as their favorite team prior to them winning the Stanley Cup, which helps bring us into the next decision which is whether you should choose your team based off if they are the most recent champion in the NHL.
A new champion of the NHL is chosen every late Spring during the Stanley Cup Playoffs where 16 teams fight to the end of a four round playoff bracket for one team to become victorious. Overall this is probably the least logical way to choose your new favorite team as you will be called a bandwagon fan, unless of course your city’s/state's team is the most recent Stanley Cup Champion. By choosing your favorite team this way, it is the easiest way to be spotted by a newbie as when questioned by true fans who know the team like the back of their hand, they might be able to see right through you. In the short run of things, being a fan of this team for the first couple years will be rough as you will likely be accused of becoming a fan due to how they performed in the most recent seasons and their most recent championships, however in the long run this title of bandwagon fan will become nullified due to being a fan for so long. However, you still will be known as a bandwagon fan due to the path you took. However, what about vice versa and choosing the worst team in the league or one of the bottom tiered teams? Teams that constantly finish in the bottom standings of the league will often be looked over and not really cared about, so when choosing one of these teams, people will often be skeptical as to why you chose them. However, in most cases by finishing at the bottom of the league the team could accumulate future superstar players so by becoming a fan of these team you are almost avoiding the potential case of being called a bandwagon.
Now what if the season just starts and your significant other is really into hockey and you want to get that same hobby in common with them? Then for this option you might choose the same team that they root for. You will both gain some type of similarity that you two can both share and it can become a special time of day watching the game and rooting for the same time. To share such a bond with someone is lovely as sharing a favorite hockey team can bring various memories such as going to your first game or even watching the team win the Cup for your very first time. Being able to make custom jerseys with each other on your favorite team’s jersey creates a keepsake forever. But sometimes opposites attract, so another option is to choose the biggest rival of that of your significant other’s team. While it won't be something to cause big fights over, having a little friendly banter over your two teams leads to a little more competition on game day. Trash talking with one another about each other’s team will provide you with the desire to learn more about the players throughout the NHL for comparison reasons during trash talking.
One final option on how to choose your team is their looks, not facial features mind you, but by the way their jerseys and team looks and is presented. As a new fan of hockey, you want something that catches your eye when watching to grasp you and hold you in. Sometimes by the way their jersey looks or the way the team plays, the team could easily become your favorite. Teams like the Penguins or the Lightning who have star players who can really dazzle on the ice, that can make wicked one-on-one plays or complete amazing passing plays that make them look like the Globetrotters are jaw dropping to watch due to their pure talent. Or teams like Nashville and the Capitals who have players that can really lay the body and put on bone-crushing hits or have the goalies to make mind blowing saves can really leave a fan in awe and allow the new fan to gain such an interest in that team. Even the jersey that a team wears can sway a new fan to root for them. Teams like Anaheim or Arizona who released arguably the two coolest alternates this past offseason made current fans of their biggest rivals want to purchase them, and if they could do that for a rival fan then a new fan could get hooked no problem.
All in all, hockey has many ways to become a new fan of that perfect team for you, and while some are more logical sounding than others, any way you choose works in the end. With up and coming teams like Buffalo and Arizona who aspire to contend in the next five years, or even with the newly expansion team the Vegas Golden Knights and the soon to be Seattle Hockey Team, as they have yet to have a name, there are many teams that can be the perfect one for you. All that matters in the end is that the team you choose to root for becomes your new team for life.