Is your team terrible?
I mean, really terrible. If your team was a person, your team’s favorite actor would be Chad Michael Murray. Your team would be that guy in the bar that stands guard near the jukebox and refuses to listen to anything other than the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried.” Your team wants to debate whether Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews is a better captain. Your team cares whether or not the Toronto Maple Leafs salute their fans after a win. Your team thinks Mike Milbury “makes some good points.” Frankly, your team just “isn’t sure” about all this analytics stuff.
Let me give you an example of the kind of terrible that I mean.
CBJ has the same number of points as Buffalo. They have one less point than Carolina. I would like to remind everybody that BUFFALO IS PROBABLY TANKING ON PURPOSE, AND LITERALLY ONE MONTH AGO PEOPLE WERE CALLING CAROLINA THE “CONNORLINA HURRICANES.”
If you looked at that chart and said, “Oof, that’s rough, buddy,” get out of here. Take your winning team and your shiny points and your BIG EYES WITH SPARKLING STANLEY CUPS IN THEM AND GET OUT. This is a space for people who are suffering, and you are not suffering. You don’t know suffering.
People who understand this chart are the ones who looked at it, shrugged, and just said, “Yeah.”
Are you so empty that all you have left in you is “yeah”? Have you come to expect loss the way you expect that kid who was in your friend group in high school that to be honest nobody really liked but keeps showing up at all your reunions? Do you find yourself occasionally cheering for small victories, like winning a face-off or having more shots on goal than there are fingers on your hands?
You are my people, and I am here to help you. There are ways to get through this. There are methods and practices in place to help you manage, if not erase, your pain.
Find an article of clothing–probably but not necessarily related to your team–and wear it.
If your team wins while you are wearing this clothing item (haha, they probably won’t, but IF THEY DO), never take it off. Wear it to work. Wear it to sleep. Wear it in the shower. Wear it on dates. Wear it to weddings. Wear this shirt until your team has lost three times in a row, at which point you can be certain that it isn’t lucky. Take it off. Never wear it again. Cry in the shower, naked this time. Find a new article of clothing. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Train yourself to produce emotionally devastating chirps that are unrelated to hockey.
You can’t win in a hockey chirp. What are you going to say to Alex Galchenyuk? “Haha, nice face-off, Alex Galchenyuk!” you shout. Alex Galchenyuk looks up at you. He frowns. “Your team has fourteen points,” he says. He’s right. They do. They do have fourteen points. Carry on, Alex Galchenyuk.
What you CAN win is an emotionally devastating but arguably unprovable claim like, “HEY, ALEX GALCHENYUK!! TWENTY-SEVEN IS ALSO THE NUMBER OF DISAPPOINTING SANDWICHES YOU’VE MADE FOR YOUR FRIENDS!”
You have no proof of this. It’s almost certainly untrue. You don’t know shit about the quality of Alex Galchenyuk’s sandwich making. But can it be disproved? No. It cannot. Go for it. Speak as if you have authority and people will believe that you know secrets.
Throw a jersey on the ice to express your disapproval. Your team probably doesn’t realize that they’re losing. They probably think that everything is going exactly according to plan. Thank God that you, a hero, can explain to them by THROWING AWAY A $200 JERSEY THAT YOU SPENT YOUR OWN GODDAMN MONEY ON, that there’s something rotten in the fridge.
Haha, just kidding. Never do this.
Start keeping a list of how many games your team would have to win in order to make round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Update it obsessively. Start researching the refs at each game so that you know what to expect, and shout at them by name. Learn to do advanced statistics in your brain as the game goes on, and watch your Stanley Cup dreams chip away, second by second. During intermission, develop an intense affinity for one of the midget teams and throw your whole heart into cheering for them. Cry when they lose. Of course they lost; you loved them. Everything you love turns to ash.
Drink some more. Cry on a stranger’s shoulder in a bar. Ask that stranger questions like, “Why do they do this to me?” and, “I don’t let anyone else in my life treat me like this.” Tell that stranger, in detail, how much you love this dumb team. Give a dissertation on the positive affect of successful sports franchises on their local communities. Offer to sell your soul to that stranger for a Stanley Cup. Tell the stranger, “Just give me one Stanley Cup. Just one. I’ve been waiting so long. Haven’t I earned it? Haven’t we all earned it? They’re trying. They’re trying. I have to do something. What do I have to do? Don’t you want my soul? Is it money? Do you want money? I don’t have any money but I’ll steal it, I’ll rob a bank, I’ll steal state secrets, I don’t care, take everything I have just put that fucking Cup in this goddamn city.”
Shake hands with the stranger. Kiss the stranger.
The contract is sealed.