Okay, so your significant other or your kid or your best friend or your parent has been spending hours in front of the television watching what you thought was an endless festival of Roadrunner cartoons. When you took a closer look, you didn't see Wile E. Coyote. There was just a bunch of men in matching sweaters chasing something that resembled one of your chain smoking Aint Maude's burned biscuits into a net. At critical moments, your beloved has screamed "Friggin' DUCKS!" Your kid did a couple of afternoons in detention for getting into a fight with the child of a Titans booster over the relative coolness of Finland. My friend, if this is happening to you, you need to face facts: hockey is now a part of your life.
In this blog post, I'm gonna link you to some excellent online sources so you can get up to speed and start talking to your loved ones again.
Need a crash course on the game? Here are some sites that will give you a better understanding of what you're looking at.
One of the best places to start is at the NHL's site. At first blush, it looks like People Magazine and Sports Illustrated made a baby. Actually it's one of the more user friendly pro league sites out there with easy to find access to all of the official team pages and good quick-see breakdowns of scores and standings.
Their education pages, found at the NHL Learning Center, might be a little confusing for absolute beginners. It's a bit like being dropped into a 200 level class at mid-term when you're a starting freshman.
Your best bet would be to start with your hometown (or favorite) team's page to see if they offer any introductory material about hockey. Keep in mind that teams in nontraditional markets often have better online resources. Maybe this is because hockey is relatively new to the city culture. This might explain why my hometown and favorite team, the Nashville Predators, has a pretty great intro to hockey site called Predators University. Prejudiced? Moi? Shirley, you jest.
Okay, I have to admit that some of the other teams have very good sites. One of the best is Florida's 101 page. I was also pretty impressed by the organization of Dallas' 101 section. Looking at the different team pages is also a great way to be an online sports tourist. You learn something new and see the game from different points of view.
Talk it out!
Goodness knows there are hundreds, no, thousands of message boards, mirc rooms and other types of social networking outlets for talking about the game. A Google search of "hockey chat" brought up 7,500,000 results. So make that millions of possibilities.
Let me make it easy for you. If you want to find other fans to talk to about your team or the game in general, there are three very good places to do that.
Click on the "Fans" button on the front page of the little band that goes across the NHL. com front page. It's the 11th one from the left or the second on from the right, take your pick. It will take you to NHL Connect. The content there is primarily fan-generated and they have a pretty good league-wide message board.
Wanna keep it local? Go back to your favorite team's page and the odds are pretty good that they're hosting a message board for their fans. Preds fans, go to the seventh button over. The first thing on the Fan Zone pulldown is a link to their message board. Is it okay to visit the message boards for other teams? I'd say yes, but remember that you're a guest. You wouldn't go to someone's house and trash their taste in decor or tell them their kids were ugly and dressed funny. Use your company manners when paying a visit to someone else's virtual home.
Tweet! You're it! Twitter is not just for celebrities any more. It's great place to chat with fans about the team, the game and anything else on your mind at the moment. Wanna know what's going on with the Preds and their fans? Here are some Twitters to follow:
The View From 111
You can also do "find people" searches under NHL, Hockey and anything else that interests you.
And finally: BLOGGAGE!
It was a challenge to narrow down the Twitters to the list above and I'm finding it just as hard not to turn this epic-length post into an e-book by linking all of the great hockey blogs I've found. This is why I had to limit it to a few very active standouts. Want to see more? Go to the links list on the right side of this screen and check out the links list on the blogs I'm reviewing here.
On The Forecheck http://www.ontheforecheck.com/ Dirk Hoag's SB fan site is one of the best produced fan-generated Preds sites around. His site features an active news feed, message board and excellent downloadable graphics as well as his own very good blog.
Preds On The Glass http://www.predsontheglass.com/ This father and son team present a good mix of commentary and news about the Preds and hockey in general. They're opinionated, well-written and gentlemen to a fault, which is why I have no problem pointing friends from other cities to this blog when they want to know more about Nashville Hockey.
Section 303 http://www.section303.com/ The home page of the loudest, proudest group of fans in the NHL, Section 303 gives a good look into Nashville's hockey culture from the fans' point of view.
So that should get you started.
And, uh, welcome to the family!
copyright 2009 Jas Faulkner