It's the Start of the NHL Season (And I Feel Just Fine)

Ryan Van Til | Crown Staff

It’s finally October, the most pleasant month. Finally trees are shedding a colourful carpet, annoying bugs are dying by the bucketload, and, most importantly, a new hockey season is starting.

I’ll be upfront, I’m a Leafs fan, which means I cheer for the blue and white and whoever is playing against the Habs; it also means I’m used to the season (sometimes it feels like the world) ending in a whimper and not a bang. The team I cheer on has the most expensive game tickets and is somehow also rated the worst sports franchise in North America.

As a friend of mine, in an uncharacteristically poetic moment, said, “Cheering for the Leafs is like having beautiful yet insane girlfriend. Every once in a while things will go alright and it’ll be awesome, but in the long run it will fill you with ruin and regret.”

But all the same, I’m hyped for the new season. So, I’ll try to avoid the pessimistic, and often apocalyptic, tone that dominates most articles about Canada’s hockey teams – after all, it has been over twenty years since one one of our teams won the cup. I’ll look past my crazy-beautiful, beautifully-crazy Leafs.

But, in reality, there’s nothing to be really excited about with this new hockey season. The Winnipeg Jets are old news. There’s no game-changing rookie or unorthodox yet brilliant coach on the scene to turn a team around – or even a few heads. The good teams are still good; the bad teams are still bad. No Olympics. The biggest news about Don Cherry is that he’s still commentating somehow.

However, there’s something still to be said about the new season; here’s what I’m looking forward to:

  • Criticizing the NHL. It’s as much a cliché among Canadian hockey nuts as complaining about losses, but it’s still fun. I enjoy looking at the record low attendance at Panthers games or tens of millions of dollars lost on the Coyotes, knowing that would never happen in Hamilton or Quebec City. There’s something great about thinking I could manage the league better than the people who are paid millions to do so.
  • Playing armchair General Manager. Trade Clarkson! Rip the “C” off Phaneuf! These are just a few of the things I would do if I were a GM. It also works when criticizing about other teams, too. When it seems I’m right, I get to wear a smug “told you so” smirk, and when the games prove I’m wrong, well, I just forget about those times.
  • Watching games with friends. This is kind of a mixed bag because a few of my close friends are ultra Habs fans, but . . . no, actually that makes it more fun. I can’t wait to yell and shout at my friends when our team beats theirs, hang out and drink beer. I can’t wait to get into arguments about who is the better player – Kessel or Pacioretty (obviously Kessel, no bias). It’s really what makes my first two points so fun, too. For me, the season is about more than just bringing like-minded people together, most of the fun is hanging out with people who get on my nerves and think differently.

 So I’m ready to have my heart broken, get exasperated with the management and mocked for my team loyalty. But I’m also ready to have a lot of fun with all that. That’s why I feel just fine at the beginning of this new season.