It’s May, so that means one thing – hockey playoffs! It’s the time of year when being a fan turns into a never-ending cycle of stress, emotions, wild euphoria and deep, utter sadness (especially if, like me, you’re a fan of the Boston Bruins). There’s plenty of frustration to go around, and ultimately, only one team can win.
So the odds are, if you’re a hockey fan, you hate everything right about now. Either your team is in a playoff series, or knocked out, or your team didn’t even make it into the playoffs this year. Or you’re an Avalanche fan. I’m sorry.
One thing I love about writing hockey romance is that I’m in charge of deciding who wins the games, who becomes the champion, etc. I don’t have that sort of power in real life (*sobs*), so like every other hardcore fan out there, I compensate by being ridiculously superstitious.
That’s true during the regular season, but it gets even worse during the playoffs. Here are some things that I absolutely believe 100% make some sort of difference to teams of men playing hockey in cities where I don’t even live. Ready?
If I wear anything with my team’s logo on it the day of the game, they’ll lose. (Exception: Actually going to the game.) In the playoffs, this becomes even more serious. I can’t wear anything with my team’s logo during their entire playoff run, regardless if they’re playing that day or not. I am absolutely convinced that the reason the Blues didn’t sweep the Wild is that during Game 4, I realized I’d worn a pair of Missouri Mavericks pants the day before.
“But Avon,” you’re saying. “Missouri Mavericks are not the Blues, nor are they Bruins. Are you just bad at geography like Max Ashford?” Actually, yeah, kinda. But the Mavericks are the ECHL team (the double-minor league) for the Blues and the Islanders, so I was understandably horrified to realize that I wore somewhat-related team gear. And the Blues lost, didn’t they? Infallible logic.
This has gotten so bad that I will now not touch things with team-or-related-team-logos, so if I need to do laundry and those Mavericks pants are in the way? I come up with really creative ways to avoid touching them. I am not kidding, you guys. This is my life right now.
I have a long-standing superstition about the Bruins and how if I’m not watching a game that they’re winning for whatever reason, I won’t turn it on and watch it. That means I either miss the games the win or only watch when they lose. There is no logic here.
I get so nervous when the other team has a power play (meaning they have an extra skater on the ice because one of my team’s failbot players committed an infraction and is being penalized), I turn the television off. But I have to know what happens, so I stare at my NHL app and constantly refresh the box score to see what happened
The year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, I would only watch them on the power play through the reflection of the television in the glass door. I’d stand in my kitchen and stare at hockey reflected backwards. And their power play sucked but they won the Cup, so you know. Mirror magic.
I can’t stand listening to the NBC/national/opposing team’s announcers, so I sometimes put the game on the television, mute it, and then listen to the radio feed via the NHL app. I pay for Center Ice, you guys. The problem with this is that sometimes the radio app is on at time-delay, so I have to pause live television until it synchs up with the broadcast. I do this entirely to avoid Pierre McGuire and announcers who are clearly biased against my team.
I just realized I have my favorite Boston Bruins blanket on the couch where I watch games (or listen to them, or stare at a blank television, whatever) and now I’m positive that is why the Bruins lost. I FORGOT ABOUT THE BLANKET, BRUINS! It’s not the fact the entire team was injured, meaning our lineup was comprised of baby!Bruins on our AHL minor league team. Nope. Definitely the blanket.
I realize that this sounds crazy, and that okay, maybe – maybe – it does not doom my team if I’m wearing anything with their logo. But I, like every sports fan, am tortured by the voice that says, what if it’s true, though? I was re-coloring my hair when the Blues beat the Wild, and I’m seriously considering buying some dye and putting it on my head in a hotel room on Friday night. Because what if I don’t, and they lose? HOW WILL I LIVE WITH MYSELF?? The Blues could potentially be eliminated!
Some years the disappointment of your team losing is worse than others. The Bruins hadn’t made it to the playoffs for three years in a row, so when they went out this year, even though it was in overtime on home ice, I wasn’t too upset. I had a few IPAs, grumbled, yelled about how the Ottawa Senators will go down in the flames of my rage and mocked the fact they’re called the “Senators” and yet their mascot is a Centurion. But I also chirped with my friend Jenn Burke who’s a Sens fan, and shared my woe with fellow Bruins fans while ignoring how they were all clamoring for our goalie to be fired on social media.
In 2012, though, it was a totally different story. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, but went down in double overtime in game seven to the Washington Capitals. I was so mad when Joel Ward scored that goal (you bet I remember his name) that I went outside to break a beer bottle on my deck, thinking it would help. What I learned is that it’s a lot harder to break a beer bottle than you think so I just looked like an idiot for a few minutes on my back deck, burst into tears, and then went back into my house and watched Mystery Science Theatre 3000 with Mr. Gale.
Sports is a narrative unlike any other, because no one knows how it is going to end and everyone – every team, player and fan — has their own story. To you, your team are heroes…but at the very same time, they are someone else’s villains. I find that fascinating, and I think that’s why I put myself through this every single year when logically I know the chances of my team winning are small.
That’s the thing about loving sports – you do it even though you know it’s gonna suck. And I think that’s part of it. I think there’s value in knowing you’re going to go through the emotional ringer and, at the end of the day, come out unscathed. Even your beer bottle.
(Unless you put a penny in it and then try and break it. Just a helpful tip I learned.)