Dear NHL: Why Am I at a Sweltering Summer BBQ with Ice Hockey On in the Background?
I love hockey. (This is not me pictured on the left.) I’m from Pittsburgh, I adore Sidney Crosby and I remember childhood trips to the Igloo being the most exciting live sports experience of my life. Hockey has the most action, the most badass players (Beards! No teeth!) and hands-down, the best music of any sports league ever.
I just don’t love the way hockey falls into my seasonal calendar.
Football takes up my fall and winter, and evokes thoughts of the Steel Curtain, cozy clothes and hearty food for my Sunday gatherings.
Baseball is all about the boys of summer, accompanied by an ice-cold beer and a hot dog. (Or a bologna sandwich from Shake Shack at Citi Field! Mmmm, bologna.)
[Note: My next post might be an open letter to MLB asking why their season stretches from spring training in February all the way to the World Series, which usually ends in November. And asking why the season is so dang long that we don’t even get a chance to miss it during the offseason. And why the day after the SF Giants won the Series in November 2014, I got an e-mail trying to sell me spring training tickets. But I digress.]
Basketball is a long-ass season too, but for some reason, the All-Star Weekend in February (the only All-Star game that’s actually entertaining) and the Finals in June just feel right.
Oh, National Hockey League. I love the Winter Classic on the first day of the year, played outside, the more snow the better — making that New Year’s Eve hangover a little less painful. But why, for Gretzky’s sake, are we watching the Stanley Cup Finals in June?
NHL, I know you have the longest season by the calendar of all major American sports (sorry soccer) — but you should own winter and spring. You should dominate it. Your Finals should be no later than April. Why don’t you own April? It’s a crappy weather month for most of the country; sometimes there’s still snow. We wouldn’t mind staying in to watch hockey. We’ll make hearty food. We’ll wear cozy clothes, suitable for an icy sport. And maybe more people would watch the Finals together, rather than just those who live in the two cities vying for the Cup. It might truly become something we all rally behind together, like the World Series.
Take last night. We had a BBQ at a friend’s on a summery Saturday night. While most stayed outside to enjoy the glorious evening — scent of burgers and dogs in the air — the hockey game was on the tube inside. This guy from the Bay Area and I kept sneaking in to steal a peek at the action. But somebody’s kid kept turning the channel to “Peppa Pig.” Not exactly the “let’s all get together and watch the Stanley Cup Finals” gathering I had envisioned. And probably not how the NHL envisions us enjoying the game, either.
NHL, I’m telling you: April. No fooling. Own it. You’re welcome.
Erica Boeke is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of The Relish — a fresh new weekly newsletter for female sports fans. Although she was born in Chicago and lives in New York, Erica bleeds black and gold and plans to name her first-born child Franco Harris-Boeke. She interviewed for her first job as a writer for the SF Giants in the dugout at Candlestick Park, wearing a parka, of course. Erica co-wrote GameFace, a book for women who love pro sports, and is currently working on her next book about the summer she and her dad ushered for a minor league baseball team. She takes her hot dog with ketchup and onions (sorry Chicagoland). Her walk-up song is “Baby, I’m a Star,” because she’s still mourning Prince. Note: Her at-bat song changes daily.