I know why you’re here. It’s nearly summertime north of the Equator, which means that ice hockey is about to hit its offseason. For a small, confused, and undereducated portion of the world’s population, this means absolutely nothing. But to you, the hockey fan — nay, I should say the hockey connoisseur — this is the toughest time of the year. You’re scouring the internet for anything that can fill that need for hockey news. Your search history over the past month has consisted largely of phrases like “NHL trade rumors”, “where to sign my child up for Canadian junior hockey leagues”, “is Gary Bettman dead yet?”, “how much does a Swedish passport cost?”, or “no really, did Gary Bettman sign a deal with the devil where he gets to be immortal in exchange for running the NHL into the ground”.
(If there’s any good news for Bettman, at least he’s not hated as much as John Cena in Chicago…though it’s very close.)
Part of the common coping tactics for hockey withdrawal is to find another sport to watch. I personally feel this is a fantastic choice, as evidenced by the growing popularity of other sports amongst hockey fans. That said, I also understand that acclimating yourself to a new sport, its terminology, its rules, and its culture. As a public service to hockey fans everywhere, I’ve created the following guide to help you learn the basics of whatever sport you wish to use to help you deal with the current lack of hockey.
aka: Grass Hockey
How It’s Like Hockey: The rules are fairly similar in a lot of ways. One goal equals one point, there’s offsides, penalty shots, forwards, defensemen, and goalies. Also, it’s far more popular in Europe than the USA, so it’s basically ice hockey’s cousin.
How It’s Not Like Hockey: Not only is soccer ice hockey’s cousin, it’s ice hockey’s boring cousin that everyone pretends to like only because he still lives with his mom at age 35. There’s more diving in soccer than at an Olympic pool. Plus, NBC shows more Premier League games than NHL games each year. Seriously. Fuck those guys.
Chances You’ll Like It: 20% if you like low scoring hockey games, 10% otherwise.
aka: Mallet Hockey
How It’s Like Hockey: It has hockey in the name and follows a fairly similar rule system to ice hockey.
How It’s Not Like Hockey: You mean other than hockey’s meant to be played on ice with knives tied around your feet as a vulcanized rubber disk screams at you at speeds over 100 miles per hour, and that this sport isn’t that?
Chances You’ll Like It: 35% if the game is played anywhere other than a ski resort, 75% if it’s at a ski resort and the snow machine guy actually takes your bribe.
aka: Tree Hockey
How It’s Like Hockey: There are five players who are realistically capable of scoring from either team at any given time, Ricky Rubio not withstanding. Also, its season overlaps with ice hockey nicely in the USA, so its breaks feel kind of familiar.
How It’s Not Like Hockey: Remember everything I said about diving in soccer? It’s ten times worse in professional basketball. Just watching a Miami Heat or New York Knicks game is like watching the fight scene from any bad Steven Segal film (read: any Steven Segal film), only you can’t see the good guy who is murdering the bad guys.
Chances You’ll Like It: 0%. The NBA gave us Gary Bettman.
aka: Concussion Hockey/Demolition Derby Hockey
How It’s Like Hockey: Unlike any of the sports I’ve listed above, there’s an actual chance of getting hurt in American football. It’s got that going for it, right?
How It’s Not Like Hockey: They have lots of weird rules involving yards, downs, and other things that don’t involve actually scoring. Also, hand passes are not only legal, but encouraged.
Chances You’ll Like It: 85% if you enjoy gratuitous violence, 5% if you don’t.
aka: Nap Hockey
How It’s Like Hockey: Both hockey arenas and baseball stadiums sell hot dogs? That’s all I’ve got.
How It’s Not Like Hockey: Hockey is full contact, baseball is trying to outlaw contact. Hockey games are fast paced, baseball games move slower than glaciers. Playing hockey requires athleticism, playing baseball requires that it not be raining.
Chances You’ll Like It: 1%. If you’re in that one percent, may whatever deity you believe in have mercy on your soul.