How I Fell In Love With Hockey, or Why Puckball Freaking Rules

How I Fell In Love With Hockey, or Why Puckball Freaking Rules

I fell in sweaty, icy love this week — not with one man, or one lady, but with a game. An experience. A thing that normal people call hockey, but that I now think of as my beloved puckball. I grew up thinking hockey sucked. It was played on ice, which just seemed odd to a kid raised around grassy games like football, baseball and golf. It was played by Canadians, and they seemed nice enough, but they pronounced their vowels in odd ways and I couldn’t quite understand why their bacon was different from our bacon. Hockey seemed bloody and sweaty and stinky and weird. There appeared to be copious amounts of snot involved, and saliva, and terrible haircuts. Hockey seemed fake, somehow, because it was different. “That’s not a real sport,” I’d think to myself when I overheard snatches of conversation about the Rangers or Devils. “And it’s so boring.”


How wrong I was.

A few days back, I thought it’d be funny if I livetweeted the first game in the Stanley Cup Final. This is a competition that involves a giant cup named after a Canadian named Lord Stanley, and who knew who the hell he was, and honestly who cared? I still don’t know who he is, and I still don’t care. That said, I am super-into finding out who is going to win his giant receptacle this year.

But when I turned on the TV, I wasn’t into it for nice reasons. I was there to make jokes and be snarky.

It’s not that I thought hockey fans were stupid. When I was a little kid, my first crush was on a hockey-playing boy who was just lovely. I like the fabulous Kevin Smith and the badass Jen Schwalbach a whole lot. They are a hockey family. They are hockey people. I think their house is run not on conventional energy but on the collected drops of sweat of various puckballers. And Norm Macdonald is very funny, and he likes hockey, and I’m a fan of his. Mike Myers is very funny, and he loves hockey, and he basically did everything I ever imitated in fifth grade, so obviously he was smart.

I didn’t know why they were into hockey. I just knew I wasn’t into it, and I wanted to make fun of it.

Then the game started.

I realized I had never really paid attention to hockey before.

I paid attention.

And I immediately panicked.

“Why do I feel anxious?” I asked myself. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because there are a bunch of dudes RUNNING on ICE with fucking KNIVES strapped to their feet? And also they have GIANT STICKS OF DEATH!” Thankfully I take a lot of Prozac, so I didn’t have an actual panic attack when one dude slammed another dude down to the ice, but I thought about reaching for my Klonopin. I didn’t do it, but I thought about it.

Now as I said before, I grew up on baseball and golf. Golf bores the hell out of me sometimes but I find it soothing. I enjoy a good walk spoiled. Baseball is lovely and I’d marry Derek Jeter today even though I’m in love with another person and I’m pretty sure that dick has been inside the vast majority of orange-hued women in the New York metropolitan area (and that’s a LOT of chicks). Whatever, if I were Jeter I’d fuck everyone repeatedly and then write poetry about it on the inside of my locker just because I COULD. He deserves it, with all that man has done for the people of the Tri-State area. In fact, if you’re a New York-area chick and you’re reading this, please go offer yourself up to #2 right now. Tell him I sent ya.

Anyway, back to hockey.

I never realized how FAST hockey was. It’s fast! Do you know how fast it is? So fast that I started to get a headache from watching the puck go every which way. Also, there is a thing the goalie stands in. It is called “the crease,” which is hilarious, because obviously this is about sex! It is blue, and I don’t know why they don’t just call it “the blue place,” but hockey fans have a sick sense of humor from being an oppressed and embattled people, and thus they call it “the crease.”

Here are some other things I have learned about hockey, now that I have watched four games: there are three periods (ha! Hockey has periods.) The big circles on the ice that look like giant boobs are actually called “face-off circles,” I think, maybe, and that’s where face-offs happen. Not the movie starring Nic Cage and John Travolta, but like a sports thing.

There is a Box of Shame where the guys have to go if they do something bad, even though hockey’s definition of “something bad” seems to mean “actually picking up a skate and slashing someone in the face with it,” since it is apparent that these dudes are allowed to do a LOT of violence to each other and it’s totally normal. You stay in the Box of Shame for a certain amount of time and then you are released.

I know I am supposed to pick a side, because I live in Los Angeles, but I just can’t! I just enjoy the game too much. I don’t really care who wins. I just want them to be happy, really. I want good things for all these men in their weird padded death suits. I just mostly don’t want them to die on the ice.

Hockey gives me a weird natural high, the kind of joy one can only feel when one is sitting on one’s ass on the sofa, watching grown men beat the shit out of each other with sticks.

Needless to say, I’ve watched all the Stanley Cup Final games. At some point NBC started putting them on NBC Sports Network, which is fucking bullshit, because do you know how hard it is to find NBC Sports Network? Dumb dumb dumb. Anyway, the other day I realized I didn’t have Channel 220 on my DirecTV subscription, so guess what I did? I called up those puppet-fuckers and I said, “GIVE ME THE UPGRADED PACKAGE SO I CAN WATCH MY STICKGAME!” And so now I pay an extra $7 a month for 45 extra channels including NBC Sportsdumb.

I’m real glad, too, because the Kings were up in the series and they could’ve swept it by winning all four games in a row, but oh hailz no, the Rangers came back and won one at home in Madison Square Garden, so now the series is 3-1 and there’s a chance the Rangers could win! Which is very nice for them and their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, pictured above. People think he’s a dreamboat. I think he looks like Early Man from a diorama at the Museum of Natural History, but whatever.

In conclusion: I’m going to start wearing hockey jerseys around the house, and eventually I’ll learn the actual rules of the game. But if you are as misguided as I once was and you think hockey sucks, let me explain to you a true thing: hockey does not suck! It fucking rules! Let’s all watch the game Friday night, okay? I think it’s on real NBC, thank fucking God and Bob Costas. I’ll be livetweeting. It’s gonna be so awesome!


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  • TheLifeSilica

    “You stay in the Box of Shame for a certain amount of time and then you are realized.” I think you mean “released”, though I do like the idea of them sitting in the box until they reach their full self-actualization.

  • Fitzgerald Chesterfield

    You know the difference between a hockey goalie and a woman with terrible personal hygiene?A hockey goalie changes his pads at least once every three periods!

  • savethispatient

    I always insist on saying that there are three quarters in a hockey match, and never refer them to them as periods. It makes me a lot of friends in my local hockey bar.

  • Mojopo

    Welcome to the family!

    • sarabenincasa


      • Bad move! Now she’s cursed herself and can never win it!

        • Mojopo

          A lie! You know why? There are three cups. The original bowl, the official one for official hoisting events, and the replica. This was at the HHoF, the replica was out that day, and Blackhawks went on to win again after this was taken. ::drop mic, walks away::

  • dorquemada

    It’s time to watch Slap Shot. Do it.

  • My only question about Hockey:Where do all the teeth go?

    • Michael Toledano

      The tooth fairy is on Forbes’ list.

  • Glen Cullen

    Excellent article, very funny. I enjoyed your perspective immensely. For more fun, you should watch the Mockumentary series The Tournament, about hockey parents and for the ultimate death by stick, you may have already viewed Canada Russia Series 1972 It was. Canada’s Cold war. I can’t believe I never thought about the giant boobs before. No wonder I like taking faceoffs.

  • HabsFan29

    so now the series is 3-1 and there’s a chance the Rangers could win!There is no chance the Rangers could win. But your enthusiasm for The Game warms the cockles of this Canadian hockey dude’s heart nonetheless.

  • Wayne Arthurson

    Glad you discovered the NHL. It’s a fun game. And yes, it is fast. But that’s only on TV. Next year, go to a live game. Sit relatively close, like four to six rows up and as near to centre ice as you can. Then you’ll truly know how fast the game really is.


    • Bitter Scribe

      Put on the foil first.

  • You think Lundqvist is hot, check out Paul Newman in a leather leisure suit. He was the only man in the universe who could rock that look.

  • Don’t forget that following @wilw on Twitter when the Kings are playing is one of the most amusing things that can happen to your Twitter.

  • MRC210

    Henrik Lundqvist – handsomest man in sports.

  • sometimeskFm

    There’s more than one sexgod in Hockey. For instance there’s Don Cherry, the Pimp-Dressing techno-loving CBC commentator.

  • NoNotThatOne

    /Shakes fist. Damn you, Benincasaaaaa! I suppose now I’ll have to watch a St. Louis Blues game. Something I’ve avoided since moving here in ’92.

  • smug

    Two movies to watch: Slap Shot and Goon.

    • Misha

      ESPECIALLY Slap Shot.

  • Squirrel_t_robot

    Even better?What teams are rumored to have done with the Stanley Cup.After a team wins it, each player on the team gets to ‘spend time with the cup’.Their time with it is said to be legendary.

    • NoNotThatOne

      Pics or GTFO.

  • Chaz Brenchley

    I? Am English, and I once had a ten-minute conversation with a Canadian about hockey before we realised we were talking about totally different sports, because “hockey” in the UK means field hockey and nothing else ever.But! I married a Californian, and live in the Bay Area, and friends of ours play in the local women’s leagues; and your hockey, ice hockey? Is awesome. Also, there are bars. I can drink beer and sit in the warm and watch their games, and I’m a total fan.

  • Chaz Brenchley

    Oh, but what I really meant to say? The hockey movie you really really need to see is “Mystery, Alaska”…

  • Misha

    There are some GODDAMN handsome men in the world of hockey!! Now, I know people have their own favorites, so I’m not going to post a list, or anything, but there are plenty out there.

  • Misha

    (Incidentally, if you call them hockey sweaters, you’ll endear yourself to a lot of hockey fans–that’s what the NHL calls their jerseys. ;) )

  • Liz Keysmash

    This is amazing and we should be friends.