The Top 10 things every hockey fan must do in their lifetime

Ryan Kennedy
Top 10 things every fan must do. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hockey isn’t just a game, it’s a culture. It can affect our clothing, our diet, even our taste in music (hello out there, Stompin’ Tom). Cheering on the local squad is part of the experience, but there’s a whole world of hockey out there. These rites of passage should top any diehard’s checklist.

 

WEAR YOUR COLORS IN ENEMY TERRITORY

 

 

How deep is your fandom? Anybody can wear a jersey to a game, but it takes guts to wear your colors on the road. Rachel Gardner is a Flyers fan from the suburbs of Philadelphia, and she’s worn the Orange and Black to several different arenas, including archrival Pittsburgh’s.

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Strange but True: How Punch Imlach led the Maple Leafs to their last Stanley Cup

Stan Fischler
Punch Imlach. (Barry Philp/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

So how in the world did the Toronto Maple Leafs ever manage to win their fourth Stanley Cup in six years in 1967?

For starters, the Leafs survived a mid-season 10-game losing streak and remained in playoff contention. When coach-GM Punch Imlach was hospitalized because of exhaustion and fatigue, president Stafford Smythe’s replacement choice, Rochester’s Joe Crozier, refused to undercut Imlach and take the coaching reins. Instead, Imlach’s sidekick, Francis ‘King’ Clancy, went behind the bench and inspired an unlikely winning streak.

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Daniel Sprong has parents to thank for shot at hockey stardom

The Hockey News
Daniel Sprong. (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Shelly Anderson

Like most NHL players, Sidney Crosby talks often of his parents and the role they played in his career – taking him to practices and road games, making financial sacrifices, even putting up with him ruining the family dryer with his missed shots in their Nova Scotia basement.

Trina and Troy Crosby never had to contemplate what Sandra and Hannie Sprong did, however. Crosby’s passion is their country’s national sport. When the Sprongs’ son Daniel was seven and showed a predilection for hockey, they did something remarkable. They moved the family from the Netherlands to suburban Montreal.

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Jets, Moose buck trend by sharing one arena — can it work?

The Hockey News
(Graig Abel/Graig Abel Photography/Getty Images)

By Joshua Kloke

When the Manitoba Moose returned to Winnipeg this year after four seasons in St. John’s, Nfld., the team enjoyed a rare distinction: it became one of just two AHL franchises to share the same arena as its NHL affiliate. The San Jose Barracuda, with their affiliate, the Sharks, are the other.

It’s become a trend for NHL teams to keep their AHL squads closer to home. Excitement over the Jets’ return to Winnipeg in 2011 has yet to subside and, according to Dan Hursh, vice president of operations for the Moose, the Jets’ passionate fan base aided the Moose’s return. “Certainly the success the Jets have had and the support they’ve enjoyed from the fans and the corporate community were factors that we looked at when we made that decision to bring the AHL franchise back to Winnipeg,” he said.

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Remembering the worst loss in NHL history

Stan Fischler
(THN Archives).

Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall once described the business of puck-stopping as “sixty minutes of hell.” Fortunately, Hall, the man who played 502 consecutive NHL games without a mask, never had to endure the hockey Hades that befell New York Rangers goalie Ken ‘Tubby’ McAuley one night in Detroit. Facing the Red Wings Jan. 23, 1944, McAuley allowed 15 straight goals in what was the most one-sided shutout in NHL history. “Tubby should have been awarded the Croix de Guerre,” said Rangers coach Frank Boucher, “if not the Victoria Cross.”

Alas, McAuley got neither prize, but he sure grabbed plenty of ink in the NHL Record Book. It included his involvement with the following: most consecutive goals, one team, one game; most points, one team, one game; most goals, one team, one period; and most points, one team, one period.

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Despite the distance, Avalanche might be most popular team in Europe

Jared Clinton
(Courtesy of David Puchnovsky)

If there was a unit to measure fandom, David Puchovsky’s dedication to the Colorado Avalanche would reach into the thousands – as in thousands of hours, dollars and miles.

Puchovsky, a native of Bratislava, Slovakia, is the founder and president of Eurolanche, an Avalanche fan club that was born in 2007 and boasts more than 530 members from 36 countries and keeps supporters connected to the team. And it’s no wonder Puchovsky is so dedicated to keeping followers up to date. “I became a fan in 2000, but I watched my first game three years later because there was no way for me to watch,” said Puchovsky, 25. “I had no internet connection – nothing. I just followed the text recaps and results on TV.”

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Dylan Larkin’s strong play shows Red Wings were right to rush him to the NHL

Ryan Kennedy
Dylan Larkin (Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Teenagers aren’t supposed to make the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s a pillar we rely on for comfort in this crazy hockey world of ours, and now Dylan Larkin, 19, is mucking it up.

But if he’s good enough for Detroit’s brass and good enough to start the season on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, then yeah, there may be something there. “He’s a two-way, 200-foot player,” said Detroit GM Ken Holland. “He has a lot of will, a lot of determination and he’s got a big motor.”

Larkin was the Big Ten’s rookie of the year last season, posting 47 points in 35 games for Michigan. A state native who relished the chance to play in Ann Arbor, the young center admitted it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the Wolverines after just one season. Having seen Larkin play so well at the world juniors, Team USA’s brass invited him to play for the men’s World Championship squad in the spring. “That was a whole experience itself,” Larkin said. “I thought I had a pretty good World Championship, and after skating with those guys, I knew I wanted to be a pro.”

Larkin played a checking role on a team that won a surprise bronze medal, shutting out Jakub Voracek, Jaromir Jagr and the host Czechs 3-0. For Holland, it was a tipping point: his shiny prospect proved he could thrive in any role. “I told Dylan and his parents that whatever decision he made, we were good with,” he said. “He’s a unique player for me in that he can play top-six or bottom-six. He’s going to be able to do lots of things that can be used by the coach.”

Perhaps lost is that Larkin is still eligible to play for Team USA’s WJC entry this winter. But it now goes without saying that he won’t be going to Finland. Through 28 NHL games, Larkin has 11 goals and 11 assists and is squarely in the discussion for the Calder Trophy.

In the meantime, Larkin is getting used to a world in which Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall are no longer guys he sees through a TV screen. “Ever since I can remember watching the NHL, they’ve been playing,” he said. “But it’s not as intimidating now that I know them a little bit. I’m excited to learn more from them.”

Too bad the University of Michigan won’t give him course credit for his work at Joe Louis Arena.

This is an edited version of a feature that appeared in the November 9 edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.

 

Why Ryan O’Reilly solves math equations while he works out

Ronnie Shuker
RyanoReilly-1

So you’re in the gym, doing a squat or a lunge, holding an awkward yoga pose or trying to stay upright on a balance beam. Suddenly, your dad throws up a flashcard with five colors on it and tells you to name the color in the middle. But you can’t drop the weight or break the pose. Somehow, while your muscles begin to burn and your balance starts to tip, your mind has the focus to find the answer.

That’s just one of the legion of training tricks Ryan O’Reilly gets thrown his way from his father, Brian, while working out during the off-season. The motivation behind them goes to the heart of Ryan’s training philosophy: combine physical and mental training to imitate game situations so you can adapt to anything thrown your way on the ice.

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