FANDEMONIUM NHL

Hockey would not be hockey without the fans, and who among its legions of followers is not superstitious? If the casual shinny player tries to emulate his idol by wearing a particular number, dressing a particular way, or skating like his hero, then fans are guilty of copycat superstitions to an even greater degree.

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Where to start? Most any serious fan has a special chair or place to watch a game. If you sat on one end of a sofa when your team won, you must sit there for every game. Of course, who you watch the game with is also key. Some fans must watch with like-minded supporters, and some with the dreaded enemy for good luck. Watch a victory with one group of friends, and outsiders are not welcome to the next.

Watching a game must be done with clothing, often a key element in a team’s victory. Wearing that raggedy-old shirt or the team’s official sweater can make a huge difference, but so can slippers, hats, and any other paraphernalia kicking around the house.

Some fans must eat certain foods at certain times. Watch a game while eating pizza in the first period of a game that ends in victory and you must eat pizza every first period. The list is endless. Answer the phone during a game; never answer. Watch alone at home; watch in the same bar at the same stool. Shave before the opening faceoff; don’t shave. Watch with the sound on or the volume button on mute. Listen to the radio play-by-play or watch the game on TV.

Sometimes the key to victory is predicting that the other team will win. The fan, of course, is never right, so better to say the bad guys will win because that guarantees the good guys will. Even better is for a fan to put his money where his mouth is. Use a gambling platform to wager five dollars on his team’s losing, and if he is right he’ll double his money, and if wrong, even better his team has won. And it cost only five bucks.

Unfortunately, sometimes the key to victory is not watching a game. It’s frustrating, but on occasion very effective. Example: a fan’s team is trailing 1-0. He goes to the bathroom, and when he comes back they’ve tied the game, 1-1. He decides to go away and do something else, and when he returns, the boys are winning, 3-1. At this point, the message is clear: stay away from the TV and his team will win.

Like players, fans also know that these things are best observed during the playoffs or for a crucial late-season game. Watching hockey is fun, so if fans spend the regular season not following these superstitions, that’s okay, because even the top teams will lose twenty to thirty games a year. It’s when a best-of-seven series is on the line and every game is critical that their superstitions must dictate and consume their lives fully. Overleaf: Goalie Gerry Cheevers marked his mask every time he got hit in the face with a puck.

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