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What Makes Hockey the Greatest Game on Earth?

What Makes Hockey the Greatest Game on Earth?

Welcome, VGK Fans

When a league welcomes a new expansion team, that means new hockey fans interested in the sport. The last couple months saw the Vegas Golden Knights welcomed as the newest expansion team, and 31st team, in the NHL.

With that, why should Vegas fans — or anyone else who may get introduced to this sport — watch hockey? I mean, for Golden Knights fans their team is playing. But, I suppose the better question here is… why watch hockey altogether? What makes this the greatest game in the world? Let’s break it down.

Story Lines

Hockey has many story lines. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings on April 1988. After helping the Oilers to three Stanley Cups, he got the Kings to his last Stanley Cup Final.

(Names are completely made up in the following example.)
Phil lays a big hit on Peter. Peter’s teammates jump in to protect him and a wild scrum ensues. Peter is out for the rest of the game, and is out for three months. Will his teammates seek more retribution in the next game they meet against Phil’s team?

Hopefully you get the point here.


Considering how fast and rigorously physical the NHL is, milestones are heavily praised. These are world class athletes who give it their all each and every game, each and every shift. Not all of them will feature a pregame ceremony, but some will have those athletes featured on the jumbotron.

1,000 Games

Again, this goes back to how fast and physical the NHL can be. Every player has a passion for the game. It’s why they play hockey. However, that doesn’t always mean they’ll actually play long enough to find themselves recognized in the big 1,000th game ceremony, where the player receives a special silver stick. You’d have to be a really special player to get there. Health and player safety plays a big part in a player reaching the 1,000 games milestone. Players condition like hell to have the build and mental toughness to get to where they are in their careers. Most importantly, they’re experienced. They know the rigors of the game. They know how tough it can be out there, yet they still battle hard every shift.


Unlike basketball and football, where teams are a little easier to predict, it’s different every season in the NHL, thanks to the salary cap. Some things still remain the same, such as the Chicago Blackhawks being a Cup contender pretty much every year. However for the most part everything’s unpredictable. The thing is you have to look at how each sport is played. Whereas in football and basketball you rely on your star players or star QBs, the NHL is a four-line league. If it’s not your star players stepping up, it’s the depth. It’s your third and fourth lines. Because of the salary cap, no one on one single team is really safe for the most part, even if they do have a No Movement/No Trade Clause. Everyone’s fighting for ice time and a roster spot.


It is that time of the year when this article was written and published. The NFL may have a lot of drama in the Super Bowl, but at least in my opinion the stakes are MUCH higher in the NHL. Of the 30 (now 31) teams that fight for a playoff spot in the regular season, only 16 of them get in. You’ve got four rounds, a seven-game series in each, and it gets tougher every round. The intensity level is ratcheted higher and higher. Hockey is a game of inches, which is proven even more so in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One shot off the post and/or crossbar either bodes well for that team or it doesn’t, of course depending on whether the puck went in or not after hitting metal. The Stanley Cup is arguably the hardest trophy to win in all of professional sports. Once it’s down to the final two, there’s a heavy sense of honor and gratitude for all parties involved in getting as far as they have. But the passion to win Lord Stanley’s Cup is unparalleled.


You could argue that this might make sense as a story line, but I’m not talking about the history between any two teams. I’m talking historically old teams like the Montreal Canadiens, and even the League itself which was founded back in 1917. The sport of hockey though goes WAY back before the NHL. You should Google the timeline. It’s interesting. Either way, in talking about history we also talk about traditions — and NHL isn’t short of ’em.

In recent years the NHL has continued to try to grow the game of hockey in a number of ways. One of them is a return to the game’s grassroots: outdoor hockey. The Winter Classic is played at the beginning of every New Year (or the day after the New Year, depending). Then after that, it’s the Stadium Series games, which are outdoor games to promote the future of the sport. Our very own San Jose Sharks hosted one against the Kings at Levi’s Stadium in 2015.

After the losing team of each round of the playoffs is eliminated, both the winning and losing teams partake in the handshake line. No one knows exactly when this tradition started.

The Detroit Red Wings, who are set to play in the new Little Caesars Arena starting the upcoming season, have a tradition of throwing octopus on the ice when a player gets a hat trick. I believe the Florida Panthers have a similar tradition, only this time it’s rats.

One other tradition that still holds true today is the playoff beard, which was started in the 1980s with the New York Islanders dynasty. Ever since then, it’s been a superstition for hockey players and even fans to not shave their beards until after their teams have been eliminated from the postseason.

Fan Experience

I had not gone to many sporting events throughout my early life. I’ve only been to a Golden State Warriors basketball game back in the days as well as apparently a baseball game when I was even younger. Of course, both were way before I started watching and attending Sharks games. But there’s just something about going to live hockey games in person that makes it such a different sport than say football or basketball. It’s such an amazing atmosphere that it’s really hard for me to describe in words. The fan interactions are amazing. The giveaways are awesome, though some organizations do it more than others. But you’d really have to go to a game to see what I’m talking about.

Those who are going to be at Golden Knights games in Vegas, many of you will be participating in the many fan chants at your arena. Whatever your trademark chants are, cherish it. It’s yours forever (or until the NHL for some reason decides to relocate the Golden Knights). The fan experience is the ultimate part of every sport, especially hockey. Make the most of yours.

In conclusion

The NHL has been trying promote the sport of hockey for years, and at times they’ve failed to hit the mark. Other times they’ve succeeded. Well, I hope they’ve hit the mark put a team in Las Vegas. That said, we welcome fans everywhere who are interested in this wonderful sport. There’s lots to love, and if you love fast paced intense action, then you’re following the right sport.

What the fans are saying

So, in case all of those details weren’t enough to convince you to follow hockey, here are some fan opinions:

Jade (@XLinkin_PunkX) says:







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