Photo credit: Noah Graham/NHL
As hockey season approaches, fans across the globe will be tuning in, joining blogs, attending games and buying new merchandise. During that time, new fans (especially female ones) will be grilled on their knowledge and declared a “bandwagon” fan if they fail to meet some unspoken standard. Those who don’t understand hybrid icing or the new rules will be mocked and told they are bandwagoners, don’t deserve to be a fan of said team and should go be a fan of another team that has a bunch of other bandwagon fans. This is particularly true if a team has experienced any kind of success in the last five years or so.
The Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings (the three most recent Stanley Cup winning teams) have apparently not had any fans since 2010, 2011 or 2012 respectively. The Pittsburgh Penguins have probably not had any since 2008 (first Stanley Cup Final appearance since they last won the Stanley Cup in 1992) or 2009 (when they last won the Cup) while the Detroit Red Wings lack any true, loyal fans — oh and by the way, the biggest knock on the team is that no one actually lives in Detroit anymore (which is completely beyond the players’ and coaches’ control).
I grew up as a lifelong Kings fan. While the team did struggle with attendance off and on for years, the team still sold enough tickets that the franchise didn’t fold or move. Some people have been fans since 1965 when Jack Kent Cooke first brought the team to Los Angeles and some have been fans since 2014 when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup in three years.
The Blackhawks and Bruins are both Original Six teams–teams who predate the first expansion in 1967. Last year, the Bruins celebrated their 90th anniversary with the NHL. While you’d be hard pressed to find fans who were around in 1924 and 1926 respectively, there are still those who who remember the (very) early days of the franchise.
For a sport that is trying to grow and with fans that tout hockey’s superiority over other sports, there are quite a few who try to proclaim their own better-ness over someone else simply because they were a fan longer.
The point is this: Put a moratorium on the word bandwagon. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a fan for five minutes or fifty years; if the team was lousy or in the middle of a championship run. More fans equals more money which in turn equals more hockey. What could be better than more hockey??