The National Hockey League has been providing high quality and exciting sporting events for the entire world for more than a century. A sport that mixes speed, agility, intelligence, and brute force on ice, to create a beautiful and entertaining game, has worked its way into the very fabric of contemporary Western life. Fans of the game gather by the thousands into stadiums and by the millions around their television sets every season to watch their favorite gladiators do battle. The players hustle, scheme, struggle and dream on the frozen rink that makes up their field of play. But, what is it about the game of professional hockey that makes people so enthusiastic about the sport?
Is there anything more exciting than a power play? Does anything get the sporting crowds more pumped up than a clean check into the boards? Can the beginning of any professional sporting event match up to the sheer intensity of hockey’s pregame faceoff? Even the flow of the game and all of the players on skates lends itself to an overall more thrilling experience than the other major sports in the Western World. Hockey is beloved in the western psyche because it gets the people going throughout the entire affair, beginning to end.
Winning the Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA Finals is without a doubt a colossal achievement for any team. But, there is something about The Stanley Cup that puts it a cut above the rest of America’s professional sporting team prizes. No one is trying to downplay the monumental achievements of sporting championships outside of the National Hockey League. It’s just that The Stanley Cup is the only trophy in major American sports that allows each member of each winning team to spend a day with the award. It is also the only trophy where each player gets to have their name forever immortalized by being engraved on the trophy itself. It makes attaining the Stanley Cup a much more personal experience for the individual players, as well as the front offices of each franchise. It even makes it more personal for the fans who hope to one-day view their favorite player’s name etched in silver on the famed prize.
Every sport asks its practitioners to exhibit otherworldly physical skills. It comes with the territory of being a professional athlete. But, how many sports ask its players to be the strongest, the fastest, and the most alert while doing it all on skates? Then add in the fact that you have to keep your hands wrapped around a specific tool while cradling a tiny disk, and you start to realize what an insane Skill set you must exhibit to be an upper-echelon hockey player. Seriously, it’s obviously quite difficult to hit a baseball or catch a 40-yard pass. But, imagine if Babe Ruth or Jerry Rice were trying to do it all on ice skates!
A lot of professional sports uniforms look great. The Yankees and their classic pinstripe uniforms are iconic, while the modern look the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL have taken on is blazing a new trail for sporting fashion in 2020. The NBA is perhaps the most well-known league for uniform aesthetics with one-off jerseys and single-season kits being almost the norm in the highly fashionable league. But the chosen aesthetic of the National Hockey League teams with their warm, yet fashionable hockey sweaters adds a whole different layer to the game. While new technology endows contemporary players with new and more functional ways to protect themselves, the archetypal look of the hockey sweater hasn’t changed in more than a century. Here’s hoping it never does.
The highlighted traditions
Every sport has its own hallowed playoff traditions, but in no league are they more poignant than in the National Hockey League. No matter how bitter a rivalry gets, or how intense a series may become, at the end of the 4 to 7 game series all of the players’ line-up and shake hands. When your team takes home the conference championship, it is a tradition for the team captain to never touch the trophy. It’s his job to keep his eyes on the Cup. Finally, beards! Who doesn’t love a team full of intense playoff beards?