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Shut Up, People Who Don’t Watch Hockey

  • Matt Rudnitsky

Welcome to SportsGrid’s Tuesday feature, “Shut Up,” (pronounced: “shut up… comma”) where we add a name after the comma, telling that person to stop saying words, because they’re being stupid. This week, this person is most of the United States.

The NHL starts tonight. The marquee game is Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, 8:00 pm ET on NBCSN. I really think you should watch it. If you’re an average United States citizen, you probably won’t. However, I kindly implore you to just shut up and watch.

I’m one of those rare, mystical U.S. kids that was introduced to hockey by my family, so I’m understandably a die-hard. But I’ve been fighting my “normal” friends my whole life, and I’ve never been satisfied with their reasoning for not watching hockey. I argue and argue and they don’t listen, and then I tell them to shut up. Their reasoning is never logical. It typically goes:

Basketball is better.

Well, first of all, it’s not.

In the NHL, there’s no tanking. Upsets are plentiful, even in the playoffs. The entire game matters. There are few allegations of dogging it on defense (except for sometimes-Kobe-clone Alex Ovechkin). There aren’t stoppages of play every three seconds. The last two minutes of the game don’t take 45 minutes.

But, most importantly, there’s no need to compare the two. You can like the NBA, college basketball and the NHL. I like all three. People often tell me they don’t watch the NHL because they watch the NBA. In that case, I don’t watch Breaking Bad, because I watch Fox Sports Live.

You’re not making sense. You don’t have to watch every game. But, shut up, and stop ignoring hockey just because you like basketball. When the Bobcats are playing the Hornets, instead of complaining and watching the Big Bang Theory, turn on Blues/Kings. There is plenty of time for both.

‘MURICA

A common response to, “You should watch hockey; it’s awesome,” is “DIBBITY DABBITY GUNS ‘MURICA.” This is not a valid response.

Over 75% of NHL teams are from the United States. About half of NHLers are non-Canadian, over 20% of which are from the U.S. And Tim Duncan was born in the Virgin Islands, they are less ” ‘MURICAN” than Canada is.

Also, you may not know this, but, ” ‘MURICA’ is short for “America,” which is shorthand for a continent (or two?) of which Canada is a part of.

Finally, the government just told you to shut up today. Tell it to shut up, while I’m telling you to shut up, and watch Canada’s national pastime.

There’s too much fighting.

Well, honestly, I didn’t know this was a possible argument, but it was the response given to me by Managing Editor Eric Goldschein, who “likes playoff hockey” but does not appear to be a real hockey fan.

If this faction is larger than I realized, my response is:

- Fights are fun, and relatively safe. You watch football, don’t you?

- There were just .48 fights per game last year. Not watching hockey because there are too many fights would be like not watching basketball because there are too many halfcourt shots, football because there are too many safeties, or not eating Happy Meals because the prize is disappointing half the time.

Yes, I’m exaggerating. But the point is: Why would a couple-minute occurrence in every-other hockey game deter you from watching a beautiful, exciting sports? I don’t know.

Eat your Happy Meal. Watch hockey. And shut up. You’ll enjoy it.

There’s not enough scoring/it’s not exciting.

There are an average of five goals per game in an NHL game. That is a solid amount of goals. No, it’s not the ~200 points scored in a basketball game, but the excitement level is higher. Nobody cares about your second-quarter layup, Wally Szczerbiak.

There are about 60 shots on goal in an average NHL game. Each one of them, even the bad ones, are more exciting than Wally Szczerbiak’s second-quarter layup. And, again: I like basketball. I really do.

There are other dumb arguments, like, “they’re not that athletic,” which are too dumb to even address. The point is: Hockey is awesome, and I think you should start watching it. Every person I’ve taken to a game has loved it, and their biases have immediately been forgotten. And who doesn’t love Zambonis?

Slovakian hockey fans photo via

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