Olympics Force Realignment of Hockey Fans
We are currently looking down the barrel of a big hockey day. At noon Pacific Time the re-sorted Team Russia will be facing off against Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Fleischmann, and the Czechs. This afternoon will see the battle of the ages: Canada versus USA. The staff at RMNB has found that the Olympic hockey tourney has Balkanized American hockey fans to such a degree that it merits discussion. Unfortunately, we are not mature enough for real discussion, so here’s a bunch of jokes about Sidney Crosby:
Let’s analyze the psychology of each type of fan.
Washington Capitals fan, neophyte
Possibly unaware that Jaromir Jagr ever donned the Caps red and white black and brown, the Caps bandwagon limits its gaze across the International Dateline to Russia. Russia sports no fewer than six former Washington Capitals, and their play is (supposed to be) as aggressive as the home team’s. Canada sacrificed any chance of garnering the Caps newbie’s support when Steve Yzerman passed over @GreenLife52. Team USA stirs up some base patriotic vitriol, but the unfamiliar roster and lack of hype surrounding the team undermines any appeal to the Johnny-come-lately Caps fan.
Washington Capitals fan, with an autographed Dale Hunter jersey
The Caps fan of the Bondra era still mourns the Cup-round blowout of 1998 and is filled to the brim with bile for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Because of this long-brewing rivalry, the ancient Caps fan, peering over his 401k report towards a standard-definition television, cannot bring himself to root for any team containing a Penguin. Canada and Russia lose any chance at garnering his favor because of Crosby and Malkin, respectively. Grandpa Caps fan somehow overrides his Penguinphobia when considering Brooks Orpik’s presence Team USA; perhaps it’s the dusty memory of Lake Placid 1980 or the manly gristle of Ryan Miller’s unkempt facial hair.
Pittsburgh Penguins fan, there but for the grace of God
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the most talented teams in the NHL, but their geographical origins have rendered them far flung in the Olympiad. This puts the fans in an awkward position, as they must now reconcile the relative vitality of their favorite players in order to pick a team to root for. Should their allegiances drift above the border to Mike Richards and Sidney Crosby, he of the private jet? Or perhaps Evgeni “Geno” Malkin’s dynamism will excite the inner fan despite his Washingtonian linemates? And then there’s Brooks Orpik sporting the nation’s colors, piggybacking on nationalistic fervor. Frankly, no one’s got it tougher than the Pens fan for the next week.
Gretzky’s rooting for Ovechkin. After that torch-lighting SNAFU, 99 wants nothing to do with his countrymen.
The hockey faithful from days of yore consider Sidney Crosby to be the second coming of Mario Lemieux. When Jeremy Roenick, who always looks like he has just gotten out of the shower, speaks, the senior hockey fans must be restrained from throwing slippers at their TVs. To this fan, Team USA lacks a marquee name or a hockey pedigree worthy of his support. Nay, the Puckhead’s eyes invariably look to Canada, as surely a decent hockey player could hail from nowhere else. This fan, to the surprise of thinking people everywhere, discusses the gold medal as if has been bequeathed to Canada from on high, and the mountiess need merely show up and claim their prize. Even if this fan played for the Bruins and coached for the Islanders (and beat up a fan with his own shoe), this dude will become his ultimate obsequious self only when speaking in praise of Team Canada.
What strange bedfellows this tournament has wrought? In the past week I once caught myself cheering Evgeni Malkin. I’ve seen a hockey blog for a rival team that must not be named (but rhymes with “the dense fog”) herald the skill of Alexander Semin. I’ve seen hockey’s own John McEnroe, Jeremy Roenick, become the loudmouthed defender of the Washington Capitals against Mike Milbury’s attacks. Before the week is out, I may yet high-five a Penguins fan. Ick.
When March finally arrives, we’ll all need showers.
By Peter Hassett 13 years ago