Nucksaid: OUR Voice (Vol.1)

As we move into 2021, we need to talk about the way females are perceived and treated in the world of hockey and how it NEEDS to change. I’m tired of the mentality that is always defining the game for us. Women are constantly being told what we think or ought to think on any given day when it comes to hockey(or any sport really) or issues within the game itself. We have opinions and stories that matter and need to be told. We love a sport that too often doesn’t love us back.

I present to you, a new series: OUR Voice. A series that will shine a spotlight on women in hockey, whether it’s as a fan or working in the game. It will feature our stories, our truths and a perspective that often gets overlooked in all areas of the game. This series will be a recurring series and open to ANY and all women who’d like to participate.

Here’s to creating a space for everyone in 2021 and beyond. I present to you the first edition of OUR Voice. Read the words written by these women, maybe you’ll relate to similar experiences or have your eyes opened to experiences you didn’t know were possible. Also if you’re not following any of these women on Twitter, make sure to do so after you’ve finished reading their contributions below.

Courtney(@CeeJesse): “I’ve definitely put some thought into the topic of being a woman in hockey, whether it be playing of fandom.

For me, liking the sport was natural – a Canadian kid in Northern Ontario – and at a young age, the idea of gender didn’t come into play. My first year playing, I was a 9-year old in a read Timbits jersey, the only girl on the team but never feeling ‘othered’. It wasn’t until the second year, when the cliched bully joined the team, that it ever occurred to me that I was seen as different, that anyone would ever assume that I didn’t belong in the game.

After that is when I moved to the girls’ league, but the comments never stopped. It’s been over two decades and I still hear, ‘you know a lot about hockey for a girl!’ or ‘I didn’t know a girl could like hockey so much.’ It is beyond frustrating when you know those remarks would never be said about a (white) man. We have to constantly prove that we deserve our fan cards. I guarantee you can find a lot of female fans with the most random hockey knowledge tidbits, as if we’re expecting a pop quiz that we need to pass in order to show that we belong.

The best decision that I’ve ever made in hockey fandom is to find the best space to exist. Posting in a now-dormant live journal community (where a vast majority of the members identified as women) nearly a decade ago, gave me a place to just be me – a Canadian kid who loves to talk hockey and the Canucks. I never had to brace for the comments on my gender or a test to see if I was a true Hockey Fan(TM). A few women I met on there are still good friends to this day. Even lately, when I resigned myself to merely watching the game and enjoying it on my own, the Broadscast hit the scene and it reminded me that being part of the hockey fan community can be FUN, as long as you’re following accepting people.

My hope is that we get beyond that – that we won’t have to be picky and cautious about who we follow and interact with. Maybe someday the majority of people won’t look at women as ‘others’ in terms of hockey fans, but it still seems like a long way off. People still religiously follow a sports media platform known for their misogyny, and people still question the credentials of a newly hired female GM in the MLB despite her job history. For now, I’ll just keep being loud and opinionated about what I believe in – a proud hockey fan.

A few months ago, I was playing in my weekly old-timers/not-so-old-timers pick up hockey game, right back where I started – in a red jersey, the only gal on the ice with the guys. Hockey is my happy place and no one can take that from me.”

Serena(@CaptToeDrag): “My relationship with hockey is complicated. I love hockey, and it is the only sport that I follow on a deeper level. I get emotionally invested in my teams (Team Canada, Vancouver Canucks), and have spent more than I should on merchandise. I spent my first pay cheque on a Canucks jersey, and saved up enough money to finally see my first live Canucks game in 2012. I used to follow all the stats, watch all the games and follow prospects and potential NHL draftees. I even moderated a hockey forum (hello HFVan!).

I have also come to realize how the depth of my hockey fandom is tinged with undercurrents of misogyny and white supremacy.

I started watching hockey casually during the heydays of the West Coast Express, and fell off the bandwagon when Bertuzzi was suspended for the Moore incident. The rise of the Sedins brought me back into the fold, and the 2011 Stanley Cup run completed my transformation to die-hard fan.

As with most of my intertests, I hyper-focused and soon sought out like-minded fans to engage in deeper hockey conversations. Twitter and HFBoards is what I eventually settled upon, and I dove deep into the depths of hockey analysis and discussion. In my desire to be taken seriously and feel accepted in hockey fandom, I started embodying the Cool Girl(TM). I scoffed at ‘casuals’ and ‘puck bunnies’ for not being real fans and laughed off sexist jokes because unlike others, I was cool and not overly sensitive. I brushed aside Don Cherry’s xenophobic and racist remarks for years because, ‘he’s just an old guy ranting, what harm could he do?’. I weaponized my hockey fandom to appear more white adjacent because, ‘hey, I’m one of you!’.

“‘Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all, hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, s*** on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”‘– Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I eventually realized that, no matter how much I knew about hockey, it never mattered. My hockey fandom was always going to be subject to scrutiny and doubt because I am a woman, and especially because I am woman of colour. Even when I was able to ‘prove my credentials’, I was then deemed too intimidating because I knew too much. Though I am fortunate not to experience worse cases of misogyny, my experience was more ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and it was much too draining for me. It has taken a while to unlearn and deprogram the ‘Cool Girl’ mentality and I am still working on it.

All of this is to say that I have now become less invested in hockey. I will still follow the Canucks and their games, watching Team Canada in World Juniors and the Olympics, but not to the depth that I once did. Misogyny and racism had shaped my perspective as a hockey fan, and almost killed my love for the sport. I have started to approach hockey fandom from a healthier perspective, but I am still constantly doubting how much of my love for hockey is still a result of internalized misogyny and racism. I loved hockey, but hockey is as it is now, like a bad boyfriend, will never truly love me back.”

(@tams3333): “Well, where to start! I have so many stories! I remember in elementary school in the late 70’s and early 80’s coming home and making our way through dinner while my dad excused himself to go to the living room to watch TV. At first my mind couldn’t wrap around it. THERE WAS SO MUCH YELLING! My dad would be yelling at the players to SHOOT or he’d be swearing at something they had done. In my new to hockey mind, I thought, ‘They can’t hear you’ or ‘Dad doesn’t play hockey, how come he knows what they should do?’, but apparently now, I know the same things now when I am engorged in my TV.

I began to sit with my dad during games. I’d lie on our atrocious shag green carpet and he began to filter himself a little, not a lot, a little. He would ask me, ‘What’s that guy’s name they are interviewing?’ or to check the TV Guide for what games were on. My dad is dyslexic and struggled with the information and back then, not all the games were on TV. I began to listen to games on the radio in my room and collected news articles from the paper. At the time, unfortunately, I thought it would never be an option for me to play but maybe I could be a writer or work for the team somehow when I was older. I didn’t know any girls at the time that played. Both myself and my dad would write down stats for the games or what goalies played. I would keep my dad up to date with all the goings on of the canuckle-head world. We didn’t have much money but I do remember going to a game or two with my dad, and I remember collecting hockey cards that I still keep enshrined in an album, barely touched.

I remember Cam Neely getting traded and thinking that it was a mistake, I remember Trevor LInden leaving, I remember my dad loving Stan Smyl’s never quit play, I remember towl powere and thinking that it was my fault Don Cherry called Bure a weasel(long story), I remember being at game 6 and hoping that Linden was okay. I remember discussing all of these things with my dad. Now, my dad is in his 80’s and it’s been my turn for awhile now. I take him to games, or let him know when the season is starting and what players will be back. I still help him with PVR-ing games as ‘it never records the end of the game, honey!’ and as well I deliver him a calendar every year where he keeps track of his stats while I’ve moved onto Twitter and Instagram.

I honestly don’t know what could have been better for bonding a father-daughter relationship in hockey than the mutual love of a Canadian team. Although, I have nothing but gratefulness and love for the game of hockey, I just wish that when I was a young girl so passionate about hockey, that girl’s hockey was more common place because, playing in front of my dad, the sport he loves much, that would have been the ultimate childhood dream.”

Medina Z(@MrsMMZ_2018): “Growing up in a sports town, being a girl who loves football and hockey is the norm. That being said, that doesn’t mean that it’s fully accepted. As a female fan, we are constantly put through the ringer of ‘why’; hounded by our male counterparts to ultimately prove that our fandom is valid or ‘worthy’ by being asked to spout off random facts, stats and what have you.

‘Oh, you’re a fan of such-and-such…well who was their running back in 1978 in week 4 who scored ONLY one time the entire season, 12 minutes 47 seconds into the second quarter…you do know what a quarter is right?’

‘If you are a such-and-such fan, then who wore number 41 for that team in 2004 and how many goals did he score that year? What was his corsi average…oh sorry…do I need to explain corsi average to you?’

These questions, along with sexist, borderline sexual harassment based, and downright rude comments, are an everyday occurrence for me and other female sports fans both in public and on social media.

What is worse is that this type of behaviour is basically accepted. Not just by other fans but by the sports leagues themselves. No matter how much they want to portray an all-inclusive mentality, or try to integrate females more into broadcasts, events, etc., the fact is that there are very few ‘faces’ within those male professional sports organizations that come forward asking for change and condemning those who make female fans feel unworthy.

As a former staff writer for a Penguins Hockey blog (that is no longer in existence), my articles garnered verbal/written attacks questioning my facts and sources (even though they were cited) or even just stating flat out that I didn’t know anything about the sport (‘Girls don’t know anything about hockey, they just want to sleep with players.’). Listen, Jack, I’m not WAG material…never have been, never will be, so let’s put that to rest right now, okay?

My pieces also brought shock and bewilderment that a girl, who sadly never got to play hockey, knew so much (because doing research is SOOOO hard right?). I remember going to an event with other media and bloggers and we got to ask whatever questions that we wanted to Pierre McGuire (yes, THAT Pierre McGuire) and no one was piping up to ask anything, so I just went for it and asked a question regarding (former Penguins bust of a defenseman) Derek Pouliot. Everyone just kind of stared at me for a second…Pierre included. He answered quickly after but just the awkward few seconds of silence that followed my question was unnerving. I didn’t know if I should have been flattered or embarrassed. The fact that I even had to question it says a lot. Would there have been such a ‘shock and awe’ moment had the question come from a man?

Being a female fan is hard, and it shouldn’t be. Not by any means. We should not have to beg for permission or validation to be a fan. We should not have to prove our worthiness to little men who’s only physical activity in life included using their thumbs to play Madden or NHL(whatever year).

Here is a thought: what if we treated men who are fans of musical theatre, or ballet, or baking competitions, for example; the same way as they treat women who are sports fans?

‘Oh you like show tunes? Who is the most decorated musical composer of the modern age of musical theatre then? What show won the most Tony Awards in 1998 and who were they against? Oh sorry…do I have to explain what a Tony Award is?’

‘Oh you went to the ballet? Oh you like the ballet? Tell me who first choreographed a stage production of Swan Lake and who the principal ballerina was at the time? Who was the first African American principal ballerina for American Ballet Theatre? Oh wait…do you know what “principal” means?’

But do we? No, we don’t. We respect and welcome the fact that they are fans. Which begs the question, why do we not warrant the same respect?”

(@AvsQueen20): “One of the best memories I have, happened at an Avalanche home game about 5 years ago; I was at a Tampa Bay/Avalanche game and I was about 20 rows off the glass. I’m screaming at plays, players, calling the refs a joke, the usual hockey stuff. This gentleman in his 50s comes up and he said: ‘Ma’am, I want to say this, I have no idea about this game, but hearing you shout, scream and show your support is amazing! Keep it up!’

The WORST memory that I have had was 2 years ago, I bought tickets to a Penguins/Avs game and it was CROWDED with pens fans. We were in the upper corner and I had offered the ticket to our Avs family group that I manage on Facebook. The guy showed up in no gear, said he had to go to work after the game and was on his phone the walk in. We get to the seats after I grab a beer and food for myself; I’m watching the game, cheering and such, the guy who had the other ticket kind of chatted, asking how I got into hockey and I told him through my dad. Well the 3rd period came, and I went down to grab another beer, I knew I was going be there a bit and I took the train in. The guy asked me to buy him a beer and he’d pay me back at the end of the night. So I did, he had the beer and slugged it, halfway through the 3rd period, he leaves saying he had to work.

So one, I’m pissed cause the dude didn’t stay, now I bought him a beer to be nice AND nothing. Well the pens were losing I think 5-2 or something and these darn Penguins fans behind me kept screaming ‘YOU SUCK GRUBAUER’. So I was already irritated and yelled back, ‘Where’s Murray then?’. The guys respond, ‘He’s playing, girl.’ And I’m like: ‘Not very well, too bad you lost Fleury to Vegas.’ Then I turned back and the guys had no response to me.

Later that night, the guy who had the other ticket, started harrassing me, sending sexually explicit texts and just really nasty stuff; all I wanted was for him to send me the money owed that we had agreed on. Well, he never did and ended up getting banned in our Avs Family Facebook group. For the most part, I’ve had great experiences.”

(@canucksprayoffs): “I’m not sure if this holds any value but I love not only watching but playing hockey too. I can’t skate and in high school there was no ball hockey team so in grade 10, I joined what was the closest things to it: field hockey. I’m naturally a lefty but for field hockey, you have to play right handed because of the sticks. I worked hard to adjust and eventually learnt how to play as a righty. In grade 12, the school had its first ball hockey team. I was excited until I found out it was for boys only. I obviously voiced my opinion on it but it made zero difference. I was so jealous. They had tryouts but it didn’t matter because I was a girl and I couldn’t join anyways. I also had an IT teacher who knew that I was a huge hockey fan and I made all of my assignments somehow hockey related -I’d always find a way. Yet, he would try to ‘quiz’ me by pretending to casually ask me about the game the night before and about prior offseason moves, it was awkward and made me feel belittled. I should also mention the amount of times that I’ve been called a ‘puck bunny’ or ‘groupie’ for supporting Virtanen when he played for Team Canada. I also received death threats.”

(@ArtUnwound): “I was raised by a man who loved football and hockey. Weekends were for watching sports. We also lived in an apartment building that was home to a lot of Canucks players in North Vancouver. This was the mid ’70s. I lived and breathed Canucks. I moved away to Northern BC in 1983 and my ex-husband was not a sports fan at all, in fact, my desire to watch the Grey Cup game instead of hanging with him was a factor in the end of our relationship. Both my sons are hockey fans but it’s my younger son(who’s 32) that has bonded with me over sports. He calls me at intermissions to discuss the previous period or texts me after a great play, and we just really enjoy talking sports. He regularly asks my opinion about hockey pools or prospects. Most men are pretty dismissive about my hockey knowledge but I have found that most of them are just not used to women understanding the game in their own right. I will never stop being a hockey fan, regardless of other’s opinions. I am grateful to have found like minded women on Twitter who understand, but mostly I am grateful for the bond that my son and I have been able to form through our mutual love of the game.”

(@allychesham): “I fell in love with watching hockey when I was 12 years old. My dad was a major reason why I got so into the sport and 10 years later, the game has continued to provide me with entertainment, great memories, and family bonding moments. The unfortunate thing is that being a female fan, there have been countless times when I have felt excluded by the sport I love. I think it’s important to note that I’m saying this as a cishet white woman, so this feeling of rejection in the hockey community can be much worse for those who do not identify as I do. A lot of women have to deal with the classic assumption that they do not actually understand the game or that they watch for superficial reasons. As a result, I have tended to keep my passion for hockey to myself for the most part. Female fans also have to handle constant reminders from the sport that we are not valued the same way male fans are. This is especially clear every so often when we get to watch the top professional league fail to properly address issues pertaining to misogyny. I know there has been progress made over the years but it would be amazing to see a bit of a cultural overhaul occur within the sport in terms of the way women are involved and supported. As someone who hopes to one day find themselves working in sports media, I do remain hopeful that there will eventually be more positive changes and our voices will start to be valued and included more often.”

Clarissa S.(@quinnsedgework): “After a tumultuous year, I’m left to reflect on both critical moments in society and my own personal experience in the COVID-19 pandemic. That initself is a challenge, with days that seemed to blend together and way too much time spent overthinking my life choices. Along with several obvious things to appreciate such as family, friends and social media, I embraced sports initially as a space to consume content and socialize in, and eventually as a site of politics with mentors that gave me a sense of belonging. In particular, with only half a year spent on #HockeyTwitter, I’ve observed and united with the force that is women in sports, with hopes of the same pressures for change to continue. In this piece, I discuss how I was reminded of my love for hockey and the struggles that I’ve faced in such a short period of time as a queer woman of colour in the digital sports world, and why I still look forward to taking up space in 2021.

When the lock down was announced early in the year, most of the naive reception I saw online was positive. University classes moving to Zoom allowed me to sleep in and saved me from spending more time taking transit to the class than sitting in it (shout out SFU). As restrictions became, well, stricter and I was left with my family and the internet, I chose to waste my days playing Nintendo Switch, visiting my sister’s room three times a day to show her TikToks, and randomly deciding to re-watch the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs on YouTube, re-activating the fan that I left to perish with that Canucks run.(And fortunately, I didn’t miss much in their following seasons anyway).

I began to follow NHL hockey teams, players and fans on my personal Twitter account. THe dynamic nature of controversial opinions, niche memes that my sister didn’t understand, and thirst posts over athletes made it easy to continue scrolling my timeline for hours on end. Then, the league announced their Return-To-Play plan, released training camp content, and safely assembled their NHL bubbles. Albeit the prison-like-environment, the players did what they they came to do. When the Canucks lost in the 2nd round to the Vegas Golden Knights, I created a separate Canucks fan account after annoying my non-hockey fan friends on my former Twitter.

At the start, I feared the digital sports fan landscape would be dominated by white, cis men. As professional hockey is evidently lacking diversity from its rosters (and I soon recognized in its media as well), I assumed the audience would demonstrate the same. With several questionable events during the playoffs, including former analyst Mike Milbury’s sexist comments on-air and the NHL’s performative solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement through their #WeSkateFor campaign, my expectations were only reinforced.

However, I owe my entry into Hockey Twitter to Jo(@notafan_jo), a talented Black woman who loves hockey and art, often combining the two interests. She led me to follow even more marginalized hockey fans, just like me, I discovered Black Girl Hockey Club(@BlackGirlHockey), a non-profit that became an important vehicle for change regarding hockey and accessibility. I religiously listened to the Broadscast(@BroadscastPod), a podcast of five inspirational women who discuss my favourite team and rightfully criticize problematic happenings on Twitter and in sports. I managed to associate myself with users I identified with, began to learn more about inclusivity in sport, and recognized my interests in writing about exactly that.

Enter: my random Tweet request of a guy dribbling that Elias Pettersson decided to remake and made viral. I informally became a better known member of #Canucks Twitter, reached out to writers at Canucks Army (shout out to Faber @ChrisFaber39 and Quads @Quadrelli), and found interest in niche topics, excluding the hockey part and rating their Halloween costumers and ranking the cutest Canucks pets.

Though I had fun with these articles and learned a lot from fellow writers, I felt detached and began wanting to fit into their common analytics-based writing. Additionally, I felt like I was suppressing my true passions to advance the narrative of women belonging in sports due to both apolitical norms and overwhelmingly degrading and baseless responses that these ideas attract on social media. When Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 Football game and Kim Ng became the first woman of colour to be an MLB manager; comment sections were chock full of misogyny and gate-keeping. When Major Junior Hockey League player, Yanic Duplessis came out as gay in September, the posts drew homophobic comments. When Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear wore his jersey with his name in Cree, Instagram comments exhibited blatantly anti-Indigenous racism. These forms of discrimination not only made me outraged, but exhausted, as I argued with a faceless Troy29381039 everyday to contest the space that I thought was made for me.

In truth, I’m still conflicted, especially after the Fall semester and basing my two final papers on the NHL’s hashtag activism and sports news framing of athlete activism in the playoffs. I felt a proud rush when amplifying players of colour or criticizing problematic but dreaded the disapproval from traditional understandings that sports should remain apolitical. Journalists like Shireen Ahmed(@shireenahmed) and Hemal Jhaveri(@hemjhaveri) not only encouraged me to refocus my interests and keep writing, but acted as symbolic, optimistic reflections of myself in my uncertain future. My appreciation for and aspiration in joining women of colour in sports media only grows.

I know, I’m still in that safe, early 20’s period of not knowing what I’m doing (and am probably overreacting), but I truly believe #HockeyTwitter gave me a chance to revise personal goals and confirm my definite interest in sports writing. More significantly, I hope fans will enter this new year with the very reasonable understanding that yes, women in all facets of sports belong, but are also essential to ensuring sports are inclusive, entertaining and diverse. To the women and queer folx I met on #HockeyTwitter; thank-you for making space for me. Let’s make more in 2021.”

Ashley(@Ashonice): “Trying to put into words what being a woman in hockey is like is difficult. As I said on Twitter as I worked on this: ‘words are hard’. They’re even harder when you are trying to breaking down the barrier you’ve enforced yourself because that’s what my journey in hockey has been like – compartmentalizing the bad aspects away so that I can focus on the good.

First, some backstory. I was introduced to hockey in the season after the Vancouver Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins. It was an interesting time to come into hockey for a math-oriented woman from Washington State -analytics was in it’s infancy, Seattle NHL was years away from announcement, and women in hockey were really better off silent. A friend asked me to watch a game, teased me with how hockey wasn’t just about pucks and sticks but stories, and I gave in. Eventually I was hooked on speed, skill, and yes, those story lines.

I was fortunate when I started finding my place in the hockey world to be able to build a community around me that was diverse and inclusive, but I quickly realized that as a woman, I was definitely a minority in both hockey and hockey analytics. I strived to change that, and in November 2015, I joined the now dark HockeyStats.CA as the Director of Social Media. This opened my eyes even further to a prevailing assumption that all hockey people were supposed to be men, particularly they should be white men. Even at the end of my work with the site, I was correcting people – primarily men – that I was not, in fact, a guy. However, that was preferable to the abuse I would receive when they realized a woman was the one running the account. Comments of ‘get back to the kitchen’ or ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’, were the polite ones directed at me – and only me, because for whatever reason, they were smart enough to not send these to the HockeyStats.CA account, but my personal one.

Having that previously mentioned community of support around me was vital in learning how to compartmentalize and just be a fan of a sport that continuously treats woman terribly. For example, writing about Patrick Kane during the allegations against was one of the most difficult things I had done to that point in hockey and discovering the management of where I was writing at, at the time did not support my post was one of the loneliest moments I can remember. Being able to lean on friends and allies saw me through that and so many other moments where hockey or someone in hockey disappointed me.

There has been progress, of a sorts. In 2017, there was only a handful of women attending analytics conferences:( https://twitter.com/ashonice/status/840603219327836161?s=21 ). The following year, one in three presenters at the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference was a woman. By 2019, we would be excited about there being an actual line for the women’s restroom at the Seattle Hockey Analytics Conference.

But it feels like that progress comes at a price. The more visible women are in hockey, the louder and more abusive the naysayers seem to get. They attack our thoughts, our looks, our hobbies outside of Twitter. They threaten violence against us, harass us for days on end, make multiple accounts to evade blocks and so much more. If they’re not doing that, they’re questioning your knowledge of the game, calling you a puck bunny and saying you only like hockey because of the hot men…and so on and so on.

I haven’t quite hit a decade as a hockey fan and it’s a continuous cycle of reminding myself of how much I love the game. I want to make it easier and better for those who come after me. So I remind myself that being involved is better than not being involved. That nothing will change if we don’t keep trying to change it. That hockey is worth it.”

Sarah(@nucksaid): “Where do I even begin? I can remember with distinct clarity each moment when I have been unequivocally told that hockey is not a space that I am welcome in. When I fell in love with hockey, it wasn’t long before it was made crystal clear that not only does hockey not love me back the same way but that in particular as a female fan the game is constantly being defined for me. From the moment I began following the game, because of my gender it is assumed that I only watch the game to keep an eye on players deemed good looking or because a man influenced me to watch the game or some other inane superficial reason not because I actually have an interest in the game itself. And then there’s the ridiculous obscure trivia test that comes out if you’ve already proven your fandom with facts because if you’re knowledgeable that still isn’t acceptable and will be proven because you don’t know this random fact from 1942.

And when I decided to start a hockey blog in the summer of 2012, I was initially scared to even share it publicly let alone on multiple social media platforms because I was worried about what the reaction would be to my hockey themed blog written and solely put together by a woman. At the time, there were many hockey and Canucks themed blogs written by men, but not many by women that I could find. I had opinions to share and stories to write but no outlet to express it, and decided that I’d create it myself. It wasn’t easy and I’ve received backlash over years from men in particular who rather than simply say they disagreed with me and/or my opinion, would leave comments that would need blocking/removing and send DMs that will never be repeated, and honestly there were times when I thought there wasn’t a point in continuing with the blog journey. It became particularly hard when I started attending more games at the arena as a season ticket member, in person harassment hits in a whole different way than the online trolls. When you go to the one place that’s meant to be your happy place and you’re made to feel as though you have no business being part of it, it’s an incredibly deflating feeling. And then there are commentators that cover game defining you as a distraction and making it abundantly clear with continuous misogynistic comments on each national broadcast that you are not welcome to be part of this world.

Social media is double edged sword, it is as cruel as it is kind most days. There are lines crossed lines and boundaries crossed every single day for most women, it can be what feels like an unending onslaught. On the other side, there’s magic in connecting with souls who have had similar experiences and those who are ACTIVELY working to make sports a more welcoming place for all parties. There have been some incredible allies to cross my path at exactly the right moments, reminding me that my voice matters.

8.5 years later and I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

A massive thank-you to EACH AND EVERY woman who took the time to share their story here and all those are always using their voices to help make hockey a safer and bigger space for all of us.Hockey as it is, isn’t for everyone but one day it could be and wouldn’t that be amazing?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

For the Love of the Game. (the female perspective) Vol.2

In May, I had the idea to bring other female hockey fans together to share our experiences, and shed light on the game that brings us all together despite rooting for different teams and players. I put out a tweet, asking if any other female hockey fans would be interested in sharing their stories, sharing their voices, and be a part of opening up the conversation. The response was overwhelming and demanded a second volume.

Volume 1 was popular, and there were more who have stories to share.

Here we are deep into 2018 and it still boggles my mind that when it comes to loving hockey(or any sport really), girls and women are told that either we cannot love the game OR we are dictated to on how to properly love the game. If we love it too much or too loudly, we are told that we are obsessed and to quiet down or if we don’t have every single stat memorized we are deemed clueless. Or then there’s the take that tells us that we only love the game for superficial reasons, because we must be attracted to the players or just love the uniforms. Or heaven forbid when we wear our favourite player’s jersey to be told that we either must not know whose jersey we are wearing OR that we are only wearing it because we are attracted to that player. And when those tactics don’t work to dissuade us from the game, we are put against one another.

If we were male, no one would raise an eyebrow or give us constant unwanted commentary every single time that we take in the game.

It’s 2018, and we aren’t going away, there are simply more and more of us discovering our voice declaring our place in the hockey world. We’re here to stay.

Special thank-you to each and every one of you who once again took the time to be part of this piece! Anyone who once again missed out or didn’t have time to get their response in and would like to take part in a similar post down the road, let me know and we can set it up! And to those of you stumbling upon this post, please read all of the experiences below. Maybe you’ll relate to the experiences or maybe you’ll see part of your story in theirs or maybe you’ll see hockey in a whole new perspective through someone else’s experience.

Represented below are some incredible women from across the world, many who root for different teams across the league but all united for our love of the game. (And if you’re not following these incredible hockey fans yet, you can remedy that by reading and sharing this post and following all of them on twitter!)

Here are some more of our stories:

Marion (@mazza_shad): “I have always loved sports – just like my dad! I grew up in England watching TV with him and my 2 sisters; football, rugby, the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth games, anything that was on, and we were all into playing and going to the games. Football was the main draw (soccer, you heathens, lol). Tottenham was and is my team!

BUT then I married a Canadian hockey nut and moved to Vancouver! Needless to say, he barely misses a game and pretty soon I was hooked too! I loved that speed and the passion of hockey and the atmosphere in the arena, I’m louder than him – I yell and scream encouragement and jump up and down when we score!

My husband has never questioned my love for the sport or any that I’m watching – for that I’m lucky – but wow other men can be so dismissive: “I’m just a girl” or “I’m English and can’t possibly understand hockey!” OR “ha ha, you just like his looks”. Well, yeah I can appreciate a hunky guy as much as the guys appreciate Genie Bouchard – I have as much appreciation for skill as any of you, as do the rest of us female fans. Yes, I have my favourite players – lots of Canucks of course but many in other teams who are a wonderful joy to watch. (Who doesn’t hold their breath when McDavid’s rushing the goal?!). So, I laugh them off now and say: “yep, I’m a hockey nut” – love it, it is my favourite game.

Twitter’s fun when a game is on, and enjoy the female commentary, often way more insightful than the armchair GMs!

This summer, I was glued to my TV watching the World Cup, cheering for England but watching most of the games, and appreciating the talent of all the great athletes!”

Michele G. (@MicheleMyBell71): “My story – what can I say? I used to watch hockey when I was in college back around 1990-1992 but wasn’t a huge fan. I enjoyed it a lot and cheered on the Detroit Red Wings with a friend of mine regularly at our favourite sports bar. I live in Iowa where hockey isn’t really huge, YET. There is a local team in Des Moines called the Buccaneers and now the Iowa Wild(which is an AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild located in Des Moines). My road back to watching hockey happened last year. I was dealing with significant depression and anxiety that fall. I usually have some Seasonal Affective Disorder in the fall, but it was really bad this time. One of my favourite musicians, Gord Downie died that fall and I was touched by his music with The Tragically Hip. While listening to several of the HIP’s hockey songs, I thought why not watch hockey again? Maybe it will help me get out of the funk I was in. You know what? IT WORKED! I caught a Bruins game on TV and decided to learn more about the team. I fell in love with the unity of these men and their coach almost instantly. I never missed a single game and found myself on twitter chatting with new friends about the Bruins almost daily. My depression started to lift and I felt a renewed sense of well-being even with the “hockey anxiety” that I had during the playoffs!

I never missed a single game and found myself on twitter chatting with new friends about the Bruins almost daily. My depression started to lift and I felt a renewed sense of wellbeing even with the “hockey anxiety” I had during the playoffs! But that’s a good kind of anxiety to have. I got to attend my first NHL game in Minnesota (Bruins-vs-Wild). I walked into the arena with my Bruins-Zdeno Chara jersey on and was so proud to be there. It was a dream come true for me! I am a Boston fan in the Midwest. We are a rare breed, but we do exist. I’ve learned so much over the past year about the game and how it has changed a lot since I first watched it in the 90s. I’m so glad to be back cheering for a team again and being part of something amazing. My cubicle at work is covered in posters of my favorite players. I’ve even helped my husband develop a love for Hockey now. I truly love this sport and its passion.

Allie Parks (@charliedebrusk): “My brother and I are 9 years apart, he being the older sibling. We were never really close until he got into college and I got into high school. He became my best friend and I have always looked up to him. He was always into sports, whereas I really did not have a care for them. One night, a few years back, we were hanging out and he wanted to watch a Boston Bruins game against the Oilers. Instead of complaining or leaving, I wanted to bond with him over this and seem like a cool sister, so I stayed, watched, and fell in love. I was never an active person, quitting most sports I tried to play and I never watched. Hockey was different. I knew in my heart that it was my sport. I fell in love with the game, the fights, the speed, the skill, and the I always loved Boston Bruins so they were automatically my team. Its now how my bother and I bond. We always watch hockey games together, always texting back and forth about hockey, and it’s our brother and sister thing. I took my love to twitter and I made so many other hockey friends on this app. Although I have been called a puck bunny, I expected it and ignore it. I know the game, the players. I know hockey and I express the love.”

Karen (@bluinsfan2017): “I was 10 years old when we first started following hockey: my parents had season tickets for the St.Louis Blues for 3 seasons, back when they still played at the Arena (ie: the Old Barn, formerly the Checkerdome). Bernie Ferderko, Brian Sutter, Greg Millen were a few of the names on the team at the time, an any Blues fan worth their salt understand and know those first two names to be legends. I’ll never forget the iconic voice of the late, great Dan Kelly making the call (and later Ken Wilson). I learned early that there was nothing more evil than the Chicago Blackhawks (I still feel this way 30 years later!). Your first hockey game is nothing you ever forget: I remember walking down the corridor behind my mom toward our seats and ducking back a moment once I saw how big it actually was, as it was so much smaller on TV. Mom was annoyed with me before I explained the aforementioned sentiment. I was also scared of heights, so looking up toward the rafters kind of frightened me. And cold, let me tell you! Back then, we played teams in our division 500x times a year, so there was plenty of Blackhawks/Red Wings rivalry action (including the very famous Cujo/Cheveldae fight that can still be found on youtube). Those were games you always looked forward to.

My first favourite player was Wayne Gretzky. A story to go along with that: I was really sick and my mom and sister went to the library. She came back with a surprise for me: a children’s book on 99! I was so excited! My sister got into the bed and read it to me, and after she was done, I distinctly remember saying: “Read it again, Sis!”.

The bedroom wall was decorated with Blues stuff, from cutouts of team calendars with little flags I made stapled to straws. The absolute best Christmas gift I received was my first Blues jersey of my crush at the time, (to be fair, I was 14 and what teenager doesn’t have crushes?). It still hangs in my closet as you never forget your first love right? I also made a scrapbook in which I also still have despite having survived a flood, and man I’ll tell you it really hits my heart with memories. Some of my other favourite moments was my dad, younger brother, and I would watch the games –that was our ‘family time’, as we really didn’t have many of them. Let me tell you, were were all loud enough that my stepmom would go upstairs to watch her TV! The three of us were NOT shy about how we felt about some of the action going on and to this day, not a single one of us has changed –still swear like sailors at times if they do something stupid (most certainly not sorry about that either).

I learned all the little but important things any sports fan must come to terms with, one of which is that’s your favourites that will leave, either by trade, FA, or retirement. They’re not going to be there forever, and only the greatest of the greats become legends. It was hard but necessary. I was in-and-out of hockey for over a decade but I usually kept tabs here and there on my team, and I’ll always love guys like Chris Pronger, Cujo, etc. I remember being wholly embarrassed by 99 being a Blue despite loving him (mostly because it came off like a bad publicity stunt gone awry). And David Backes, which is how I came back for real this time.

To me, it was never really about being a girl who loved hockey, I just did, it’s a part of who I was and am today. I do not think that I feel any differently, but times have drastically changed from my 10 year old self. And while I don’t experience it a lot, I do see other ladies go through it and it’s absolutely ridiculous. I personally could care less what others think about me loving my hockey and I’ll not change for anyone. It’s a shame that people feel the need to judge females by their love of a game and accuse them of certain things when some of the posts I see made by males are far worse and makes you wonder to their sanity. Double standard much?

Keep loving your hockey, girls! And keep screaming so much it makes you hoarse for 3 days (or longer –heh one of my favourite consequences of going to a game)!”

Ashley March (@marchhockey): ” I could actually split the whole things into two topics. The first being the usual that is women get treated like dirt by male fans, males that we interact with on social media, males who we confer with about hockey in general. And then there’s the other side, how I was treated by players from junior right up to senior pro from around the world, to management from certain teams and more.

There’s also the side of the males in the business (and players) who actually did want to help me to succeed, that would help me get opportunities and things like that. I think it’s important to touch on that too because not every sporting man is a douchebag. I’ve met a few former pro players who I’ve become good friends with. And that’s actually still weird to me, but that’s a whole other topic.

But yeah, I stopped writing literally because of all the hate I would get just for being a woman in hockey! I’m sure you know how exhausting it can get to defend yourself all the time. With health issues I’ve had going on, I just said screw it, this isn’t worth it right now. Hopefully, I’ll come back some day.”

Me (@nucksaid): “Truthfully I’ve lost track of how many times or encounters I’ve experienced that have attempted to take my love of the game away or those who think I have to prove my knowledge of the game. These moments happen in everyday conversation when hockey comes up, on social media, and of course in the arena at most games I’ve attended. Someone finds out I love the game, and before I can explain why or say one word about the game, I’m forced to having the game “man-splained” or forced into proving my knowledge with the google test. Sounds a bit ridiculous right?

As incredible a tool as social media can be to connect with other fans, it can also be a dark place where some use their keyboards or their phones to attack those who have a differing opinion or who they deem not worthy to love the same game or for no reason whatsoever. There are names and words that have been tweeted towards me and fellow female fans that I cannot and will not repeat here. At one point it got so bad, I had to step away from twitter for awhile. And while those dark moments exist, there’s also lighter moments that take me by surprise such as the time I was at a fan event and someone who I had a beyond terrible twitter/hockey experience with, sought me out and APOLOGIZED. It was not something I ever expected to happen but it was a moment that showed me that change CAN happen and that the words we use to express ourselves and the words we use towards others DO MATTER.

I accepted long ago that I may have a different perspective on the game and the team and that unfortunately has made me a target at times and being accused of being either naive or being incompetent about hockey and the Canucks. Guess what? Choosing a different perspective does not mean I’m clueless about my team’s standings or their situation, it simply means that while I understand their reality, I also choose to find the silver lining and anticipation of the future. Different perspectives is not a bad thing, often I will learn a lot from how others view the game.

What I don’t accept is that by wearing my favourite player’s jersey to a game that means I should be attacked both personally for being a “female” hockey fan who must not even know who that player is AND having that player’s name said in the female form (IE: Henrietta instead of Henrik & Daniella instead of Daniel). Rest assured, I’m more than aware of the jersey I’m wearing and their career stats. By wearing a jersey to the game, the only statement I’m making is that I’m there to support my team and watch the game, I’m not there to debate why you think I’m there or to have the entire game explained to me in condescending tones. I love talking hockey with anyone and everyone but it doesn’t have to be done in a way that belittles, demeans or we can all love the game.”

Once again, I urge you all, if any of these experiences resonated with you or if you know someone who has felt the same, share the post and let’s all make it our aim so that in 2018 and beyond, the sentiment of “hockey is for everyone”, actually becomes 100% true. We are all hockey fans.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

For the Love of the Game. (the female perspective) Vol.1

This post is dedicated to every single female hockey fan out there.

Here we are in 2018 and it still boggles my mind that when it comes to loving hockey(or any sport really), girls and women are told that either we cannot love the game OR we are dictated to on how to properly love the game. If we love it too much or too loudly, we are told that we are obsessed and to quiet down or if we don’t have every single stat memorized we are deemed clueless. Or then there’s the take that tells us that we only love the game for superficial reasons, because we must be attracted to the players or just love the uniforms. Or heaven forbid when we wear our favourite player’s jersey to be told that we either must not know whose jersey we are wearing OR that we are only wearing it because we are attracted to that player. And when those tactics don’t work to dissuade us from the game, we are put against one another.

If we were male, no one would raise an eyebrow or give us constant unwanted commentary as we take in the game.

It’s 2018, and we aren’t going away, there are simply more and more of us discovering our voice declaring our place in the hockey world. We’re here to stay.

At the start of May, I  had an idea to bring female hockey fans together and share our experiences as well as shed light on the game that brings us all together despite rooting for different teams at times. I put out a tweet, asking if any other female hockey fans would be interested in sharing their stories, sharing their voices and the response was overwhelming:

Special thank-you to each and every one of you who took time to be part of this piece! Anyone who missed out or didn’t have time to get their response in and would like to take part in a similar post down the road, let me know and we will set it up! And to those of you stumbling upon this post, please read all of the experiences below. Maybe you’ll relate to the experiences or maybe you’ll see part of your story in theirs or maybe you’ll see hockey in a whole new perspective through someone else’s experience.

Represented below are some incredible women from across the world, many who root for different teams across the league but all united for our love of the game. (And if you’re not following these incredible hockey fans yet, you can remedy that by reading and sharing this post and following all of them on twitter!)

These are some of our stories.

(@Pokeyloo) : “I’ve been an avid fan of the Canucks since I was in my early teens. I cut the team’s pictures out of the Province newspaper and had them on my locker in the early eighties. I grew up wanting Tom Larscheid’s job but didn’t think it was something a woman could do. I did some sports written reporting for TWU(my university) but that was as I got. I know the game well. I love being on twitter during games – it’s fun. My family and friends consider me an obsessive fan but I ask you -if I was a guy, would I have that label? I love hockey, not just the Canucks, love soccer and football also but to a lesser extent. Usually you’ll find me with the guys in the TV room if the game is on during a party. Also, I plan my schedule around games sometimes. I hope the Canucks can win a cup in my lifetime. My favourite players have been Stan Smyl, Tony Tanti, Trevor Linden and Alex Burrows. I’d like to also give a shout out to Jody Vance as one of the first female sports reporters in Vancouver, seeing her in that role always made me feel like it was going to be possible for so many more females yet to come in the Vancouver area.”

Tina Poole (@tpoole00): “I have noticed that times have changed. More and more females are actively blogging and commenting on threads. I am sometimes accused of not understanding the game but they mostly from ignorant males who are passionate about their team. I have always loved sports, especially hockey because I really believe in the values that the team encompasses on and off of the ice. The players inspire me to be the best that I can be everyday.”

Tiera Joy (@TieraBolt): Growing up, I was a figure skater and I was exposed to hockey and the players. However, it wasn’t until I became a mom of a little hockey player that I realized how special the hockey world is. It really is a big, encouraging family. Hockey is so much more than just a game, it’s a culture. That is what drew me in the most. The reason I love the game? It’s exhilarating and no matter the outcome, it has the ability to bring me joy even on the worst days.”

Alexa (@alexaa_speed): “Well, I was born in Russia, so hockey is a big part of my culture. I watched the games with my dad as a child and when I came to America, I was really thrilled to live in a town that was big on hockey (San Jose). I love the excitement and the rush that I feel when I watch. It’s a great way to forget about my problems for a while and just have fun and cheer for my team. Now, I’m Seattle and there’s no hockey team just yet, so I won’t be able to go to games for a while.”

Tanins Nygren(@TannisNygren): “I will admit that first off that perhaps all of those stereotypes that you mention did describe me when I first started to like and watch hockey. There were definitely certain players I became a fan of and even today I can honestly say that is still the case as there are players that I am still a huge fan of despite the fact that they no longer player for the Canucks but that doesn’t mean I am not just as big of a hockey fan as any of my male friends or that I don’t know just much about the sport and in many cases know more.

I grew up in a small city where there wasn’t a lot to do besides going to hockey games and started by being a fan of the WHL and then later the NHL. My love for the game may have started by following specific players and then eventually it become about the Canucks but the bigger fan of the Canucks that I became, the bigger fan of the game itself I became. I will admit that social media has definitely had an impact; whether it’s listening to others opinions, learning stats or the ability to follow the game when I am unable to watch it through tweets. Did I mention how much I HATE regional restrictions? Sometimes, I will say I probably know more stats  than the average fan would know; male or female and find myself repeating them to anyone that will listen.

I not only follow the NHL but having pursued my dream and worked for a sports team, I also am a fan of the WHL, AHL. I recently have been following the NCAA more than I ever have especially when it involves the ability to follow our great prospects. As much as I love the Canucks, it’s not only about one team but I love watching the game whether it means watching them live or on TV, even if it’s watching a game where I don’t like either team such as the first round with Boston and Toronto.

It’s not the easiest thing being a Canucks fan in another NHL city but it doesn’t take long for someone to get to know me before they realize the passionate fan that I am and will not cheer for a team just because that’s where I live. Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult to be a fan of a team when you don’t live in that market but I also think that is what makes me even more passionate and I feel a lot of people will respect that about me.

Twitter has definitely helped me feel connected to other fans and the team despite where I live but it also has allowed me to learn so much more about the game, rules and even the business side of hockey which I am becoming increasingly fascinated with. There will always be those fans that think they know everything and are very negative but what I love is hearing the different perspectives especially when other fans say exactly what I was thinking. Not everyone needs to agree but respect of others opinions and don’t assume that they don’t know what they are talking about. Yes, I am a female so sometimes my emotions do get the better of me, such as the amount of tears I shed during the last week of the season due to the Sedins career coming to an end and you don’t even want to know what I was like being at that final game, here in Edmonton knowing that was the last time watching them but I would like to think that emotion just shows the passionate fan I am.

If I wasn’t a fan of the game, I wouldn’t go to as many games as I do or spend the money and time to travel to see my team because I enjoy it as much as I do.”

Heather Morton (@flyersgrl28): “So, I guess the best place to start is to explain how I got into this sport we call hockey. For as long as I can remember, sports were always a part of my family. My dad played softball and hockey at some points in his life. Him and his friends split season tickets for the Flyers. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from them about meeting Flyers legends. There are pictures of me as an infant in Flyers gear. My dad is the one responsible for introducing me to hockey and starting this crazy obsession. For years, it was our father/daughter date once a year to go to a Flyers game. I saved every single ticket stub. I never saw a Flyers game at the Spectrum but I’ve seen too many games to count in the same building whether it was the Cores State Center, First Union Center, the Wachovia Center or Wells Fargo Center as it’s currently called. I looked forward to this one game every year. I don’t remember much other than the excitement. I grew up watching the Legion of Doom era and seeing Hextall wreaking havoc on players. I was 9 years old when the Flyers lost to Detroit in 4 games and I remember bawling my eyes out. Eric Lindros was my absolute favourite with John LeClair coming in a close second. I’m still enamoured with the both of them to this day. The one vivid memory I have is my dad waking me up when LeClair had scored his 50th goal of the season. That passion became my passion. As I got older and the ’04-’05 lockout happened, my dad stopped following as closely as he had when I was younger. Mostly because they were really bad in the first two seasons after the lockout. But that was the moment when my passion kicked itself into full gear. With the end of the lockout, came new rules and the end of the old ones. I taught myself the new game and watched all the games I could. It wasn’t until maybe the 2008-2009 season that I really started attending games on a semi-regular basis. And with the emergence on social media, I started connecting with other people who loved the Flyers just as much as I did. I actually met one of my absolute best friends at a Flyers game and in about 4 months I will be Maid of Honor in her wedding. Most of the people in my life, I have met through the Flyers somehow. Whether it’s meeting at a game, socializing on Twitter/Facebook or through mutual friends, hockey has united me with so many different and amazing people and I can’t think of my life without these people now. However, being a female hockey fan or just a female sports fan in general, is not without its difficulties. I’ve encountered men who are intimidated by my knowledge of not just my team but of the whole league. There are girls that like the sport solely on “looks” and how cure some player is. They exist, there’s no denying that. But girls like me and so many others, far outweigh those that only see this sport as skin deep. I follow and am friends with several strong female hockey fans…all fans of different teams. I’m fortunate enough that I know such knowledgeable women. We, as a group of knowledgeable people, have to stick together. I love to talk hockey. I don’t care what team you root for…unless my Flyers are playing them that night!”

Miranda M. (@lovelyminda): “I was introduced to hockey in 2003 when I was 12 years old by by attending a Nashville Predators game that my dad was gifted tickets to. It was a developmental time in my life, and as I started feeling burnt out playing softball for years, my interest in hockey grew exponentially. I really enjoyed just how fast paced the sport was, and quickly I spent the off-season reading hockey books and learning as much as I could about the Nashville Predators and hockey in general.

Of course, I found adversity with being a girl wanting to learn and talk hockey. Nashville in 2003-2004 wasn’t as big of a hockey town that it is now, so many people around me didn’t understand why I was so into it in the first place. I tried to talk to boys at my school who knew I played hockey, and immediately, they would say my points were invalid because I didn’t play (and due to softball injuries, I still don’t). “You just think the players are cute”, they’d say. Within due time, I was dealing with nicknames like “puck bunny”, that every female hockey fan dreads. In the online hockey community I was a part of, some of the women embraced the “puck bunny” insult and took it back–by learning and absolutely schooling the skeptics with thoughtful analysis. I wanted to do just that.

Personally, it was a lot harder growing up than it is now when dealing with the adversity and the belief that “women don’t know sports.” To be frank, I knew a heck of a lot more about the stats part of hockey back when I was trying to prove a point than I do now. In a time like 2006-2007, you could ask me the plus-minus of any Preds player and I could spat it out. Now? Not so much. But that’s because I’ve learned there’s nothing to prove to the skeptics. If they don’t believe that I know hockey, spatting off a few obscure stats won’t do much to change their minds. I’d rather discuss coaching systems, special teams tactics, or even more broader terms to discuss hockey.

Nowadays, I’m a blog contributor to Predneck Nation, a great sports radio show featuring analysis of all Preds games on Nashville Sports Radio. The Nashville media market has heavily embraced women, with many radio shows (like Predneck Nation and Penalty Box Radio) serving as an outlet for female fans and analysts. I don’t feel the adversity as much as I used to, especially now that I’m surrounded by a fantastic squad of female Preds fans who know the sport incredibly well. We frequently have twitter discussions and are quickly turning into a little hockey family with get togethers and “girls nights”.

Hockey is even a part of my job as a ride-share driver. I’ve decked my car out as the “PredsMobile,” where discussions with fans around town contributes to my Predneck Nation column. I talk with passengers all day about all realms of hockey, from Preds to visitors of Nashville. I’ve made sure to know info on at least some of each team so that I can have a fruitful conversation. With the city of Nashville embracing hockey so feverishly the last few years, culminating with the Stanley Cup run in 2017, there are a lot of new fans to the sport who don’t know everything, and I welcome their questions and discussions more than any other discussions. And I’ve definitely had (male) passengers try to correct or “mansplain” the sport to me as if I haven’t been watching for 15+ years. I believe the most egregious argument was so basic, it was insulting–the guy insisted the Preds had never been to the second round before 2017(they had three times). He still refused to believe me when I gave him dates, teams, and the series results by number of games.

The most frustrating part is when people are surprised that I know what I’m talking about. I think once that “surprise” is gone away from every sport, that last little bit of frustration will go away.”

Brandy S. (@BrandyVS0202): “One of the earliest memories I have of hockey is of Peter Bondra, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates leading the Capitals. The culmination of these men’s career with the Capitals was the Stanley Cup Finals, which unfortunately ended with the Red Wings sweeping the Capitals.

The main reason that I am drawn to watching the NHL, despite the Capitals’ playoff woes, is that there is always a chance that they might be able to get past the second round and win it all. It is also interesting watching the player development in the league and how they progress, or digress, each year. The Capitals seem to be able to develop goalies well, as seen with Kolzing, Holtby, Neuvirth, and also Varlamov. Of course, over the past twelve years it has also been fun to watch Ovechkin break records and win the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career.

On the international level, it has been great to see as a US fan, the US women’s hockey team have their success. It is important to show that women can be as successful at hockey as men, and to even overshadow the men’s team as in the US.

On a personal note, the Capitals have been able to help me through some tough times. Being able to cheer them on and them winning the games right after my mom’s death in 2013 helped to distract me from what was going on a little bit. Also, my Capitals loving calico (yes, she watched hockey with me!) passed away right after the Capitals won their first game against the Blue Jackets in the first round. They went on to win the next three games, win the series, and are now headed to the STANLEY CUP FINAL. I have joked somewhat that maybe she is up there smacking them and meowing at them to win a few series.”

Cindy Lemoine (@Cindy Lemoine): “I’ve been a hockey fan for about 4 1/2 years now. I had a crush on a guy who was a fan of the Arizona Coyotes, so I started watching them. To my surprise, even though I’ve never been much of a sports fan, I found myself actually enjoying it. I have a very short attention span and bore easily, which is why I can’t tolerate sports. BUT hockey is so fast paced! I mean, these guys are chasing a 3-inch rubber disc going 40 mph on skates! In one of my favourite interviews with my favourite player, Zdeno Chara, he says it best: “I just love the speed of the game and the physicality.” In what other sport do you see such hard hits and fights? I read once that the effects of the hits in hockey are second only to boxing. Even during penalties, challenges, and reviews, I’m never bored. You have Doc Emrick or other announcers spitting out juicy tidbits about players or the team or the game. You have closeups of some of the players. And, if you’re lucky, you have Wes McCauley as one of the refs giving his legendary explanations.

So one day in the 2013-14 season, the Coyotes played the Bruins. I saw Zee, who reminded me of my friend, and asked him who that was. I was mesmerized by his sheer height and later by his power. Then, I saw the rest of the team. There’s just something about the Boston Bruins: their grit, their no-quit, their heart. I can’t quite put into words, but they wiggle into your heart and won’t leave. I like players on other teams, but I will always be first and foremost and forever a Boston Bruins fan. I love how passionate Boston fans are too. They do not fail to let players know when they are displeased!

We female fans do love the game for more than the players, but I do have to admit Zdeno Chara is the reason I fell in love with with the Bruins and continue to be theirs and his biggest fan. The more I learned about the man, the more I admired him and what he’s done not only for hockey but for sports in general and for his community. If anyone would take the time to get to know him off the ice (and his stats on the ice are impressive enough–this beast will be in the Hall of Fame and his number retired for sure), they would see that every conception that had about hockey and players is probably wrong! Sure the game has changed, even since I’ve been watching, but hockey players are, in my opinion, the toughest athletes out there. And there is something different about them. Maybe it’s because they are mostly Canadian and European, but they seem to be some of the most humble, down-to-earth, approachable, friendly, generous and even smartest athletes ever. They don’t seem to get too embroiled in scandals, nor act like overpaid prima donnas. As Zee often says, they are just “regular guys”. Guys who happen to be able to fist fight on ice skates. Long live hockey!”

Shannon (@Pens_Lynn): “Being a hockey fan and being a woman has it’s ups and downs. For one, men don’t take you seriously and think for the most part that you’re watching because you think the players are “hot!”. Not the case, I have a ton of female hockey fans who know the game better than most men. My husband never even watched hockey with me until recently and it’s been fun to explain the game to him. He is one who takes me seriously because I’m so passionate about the game. Most men on twitter do not take a female seriously when it comes to hockey. I’ve had countless “men” tell me to get back in the kitchen because it’s just assumed that women know nothing. It’s sad, really. I’ve also been told that I watch because I think the players are hot! Funny because I’m 41 years old and in the NHL that’s old! I don’t look at the players like that! I look at the players because they can play and definitely have my favourites but it has nothing to do with them being attractive! I love the game for the game!

My female hockey fans know hockey. They know the game inside and out. It is a great group to be a part of. Female hockey fans are by far the most passionate fans of the game. We analyze the game more. We try to figure out what went wrong, what went right and lean on each other when we’re being told it’s a man’s sport. Yes, there are other female fans from opposing teams who tell you that you don’t know anything and that you just started watching hockey because your team is winning. That crap gets old too! In today’s world where women should be empowering other women, that doesn’t happen in the hockey world; especially when you cheer for opposing teams. Some of it is friendly banter but other women can be down right pathetic about it.

It used to bother me when both men and other women would criticize your reasons for being a hockey fan. Not anymore. I grew some thick skin and now I just say my piece and move on. In reality though, we can all be hockey fans and be passionate about the sport we love without ridiculing others. Friendly “smack talk” on twitter is welcome and expected. Other times, it deserves the block button. In the end, hockey is a great sport. One of the greatest to be honest. Sure there needs to be more change in the head shots area but the game is fast and exciting. I’m proud to be a female hockey fan and have made some great friends who are also female hockey fans and there are men who do realize that women can watch hockey, be passionate about it and love the game just the same!”

Medina Menozzi (@MedinaMarie_PI): It all began with a mullet. Yes…I mean Jagr.

My dad is a huge sports fan, a December baby means that football and hockey were on almost all the time. I remember watching games but I had no idea what was going on. I’d stare at the screen at about 3-4 years old and just watch for something to do with dad. Then I saw him: “Mr. Fancy Hair”, as I called him. Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

My dad said the game went from being just something on TV, to me being fully engaged in the game and asking what everything was that was going on. Within a month, I was talking people’s ears off about everything hockey, sporting Penguins gear and running around going “Mew, Mew, Mew” every time Mario scored. But my favourite was Jagr and when he was on the ice, nothing else in the world mattered. The way he flew on the ice, and the sheer power he had to score goals was awe inspiring to me.

In the town I grew up in, hockey was a bad word. It’s a football town. Period. Maybe a handful of people watched hockey. I remember once playing deck hockey in gym class and being the only one who knew how to hold a stick properly (even though they weren’t regulation size). I was 10, and there I was asking the gym teacher if we were focusing on handling, one timers or passing plays that class. He stood there, befuddled.

It didn’t feel good to be made fun of for being good at something others didn’t really know much about, so after a while, after catching a lot of flack for being a hockey chick, I quit focusing on trying to play and acted like I was disinterested in the game entirely, all the while trying to keep up to date with games and news of the Penguins. That lasted all the way up until college. I wanted to go into sports broadcasting/journalism, but the effects of being bullied for being into sports had a lingering effect, and even my student adviser talked me out of it so I chose another major. I should have stuck with it but that is how it goes.

I even dated a guy back in 2005 who played league hockey over in central PA for a while and told him flat out “I hate hockey.” Clearly that was a lie but he didn’t know that. Boy was he surprised when, after watching a game, I piped up about how one of his buddies on his team had poor stick handling and how if he moved his feet as much as he moved his mouth, he just might be able to add some offensive support instead of constantly getting pinned in the defensive zone every time he touched the puck. They stood there with their jaws dropped, I just smiled.

Now, in 2018, I’m writing for a blog called, “Pens Initiative”, continually having to prove that while YES, I am a woman, I can be just as knowledgeable about hockey as men can. That my fandom for the game, or for a player, comes from the love of THE GAME and their playing ability, not because of their looks. Pavel Datsyuk is one ugly dude, but respect where its due: the man could/still can play (in the KHL). I got into hockey not just to bond with my dad, but because I loved to watch and talk about the game, and I still do to this day.”

Artisia Wong (@artisia_wong): “My name is Artisia. I am 31 years old and live in North Delta, Canada. This is my story about how I got into hockey.

I knew about hockey when I was in elementary school but got really into hockey during high school. I would attend games and watch hockey on TV. My cousin’s loved watching hockey so I would watch the games pretty much every weekend with them.

After high school, my cousins formed a hockey league and I can still say up to this day, I’m their biggest fan! They play every weekend and I try to attend as many games as possible. This season, I might have missed on game. But they won the cup this season!

I hope more ladies love hockey as much as me!”

Kelsey Sagvold (@SeamoreHockey): “Hockey came to me at a point in my life when I needed it most. I live with a rare nerve condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This condition is a rare disease of the nervous system. There is no cure. There is no universal diagnosis of this disease. The FDA has not approved a single medication for this specific disease yet. It is debilitating, progressive, and causes unrelenting pain of the highest level on the MacGill Pain Scale. It leaves no area of our lives untouched. I can honestly say this was the thing that saved me. Learning the game has just grown my passion for it. Hockey is more than just a game to me. It’s what I turn to on bad days and good. I live for Friday and Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

I’ll never forget my first college game. It was an icy, cold North Dakota February evening of 2016, where I found myself standing in a line of thousands of other University of North Dakota students, waiting for a hockey game. Oliver, now my husband, and I stood in that line for what seemed like forever. As the doors opened to the Raplh Engelstad Arena, students pushed and shoved trying to get to the warmth faster. The UND Fighting Hawks were playing the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Throughout three periods of play only two goals would be scored. In overtime, Austin Poganski would be awarded a penalty shot that would find its way into the back of the net. The crowd erupted in cheers, people giving high fives to people they had never met before. It was in those moments that all my pain slipped away, and I knew I needed to find a way to be as close to this feeling and environment as possible.

I kept attending games and watching the NHL on TV. Learning as much as I could. My mom says that hockey is too much of who I am. However, I don’t know where I’d be without it.”

Diana Shank Pitt (@dshank92): I first got interested in hockey back in 2008 when I was 16 and watched some of the regular season and most of the playoffs for the first time. I decided to give the sport a try to see if it would interest me. Growing up here in PIttsburgh was nice since I could watch all the Penguin games and to see the Crosby era with Fleury and co. develop into the team that they are now. I enjoy the constant action whether it be precise skating, posing, odd man rushes, good hits or elite goals and play making that can take place even in low scoring games.

Other sports seem slow by comparison. It’s a sport that is under appreciated and isn’t as popular as others but I feel offers more action and intrigue, especially in the playoffs when compared to basketball or baseball. I find that hockey games pull you in so much with the intensity it brings out in fans, especially in playoff times and how you see the entire town in which a team plays come together. I don’t see this in other sports. The hockey community seems more close knit.

Hockey is more unpredictable than other sports in terms of predicting who will win. Very rarely does the President’s trophy team win the title where as in other sports, it is much easier to predict who will be left standing.

It’s also not often that websites ask us ladies or non-traditional sports fans how they got into the sport. Hockey seems much more open and receptive to the previously non-traditional sports fans whether it be ladies or us lgbt folks. I’ve met a lot of wonderful female hockey fans on twitter.”

Laurel (@PitterTwaited): “Fan since 1992. I must have written a good 5 pages on what it’s like to be a hockey fan, why I’m a hockey fan, and what I love about hockey. I added a few things that ticked me off about being a hockey fan and then realized that almost everything I had written could be coming from both male and female hockey fans and I was supposed to focus on what it’s like to be a female hockey fan.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I talk a lot in real life and type just as much online. So, instead of the exhaustively long tome that I am fully capable of producing on this subject…I shall keep it short and to the point.

The Best Thing About Being A Female Hockey Fan: No waiting in long lines to use the lades room! Yeah! You won’t find that at a baseball game.

The Worst Thing About Being A Female Hockey Fan: The Puck Bunny that shows up to games with the hope of having sex with a player(s), knows nothing about the sport and wears her pink ‘shirsey’ way too tight.

I am a non-peepee dancing, team colours sweater wearing proud San Jose Sharks Female Fan For Life.”

Kayla Martz (@Kayluvsredwings): “Hockey has always been a huge part of my family…I was a late bloomer however. The two reasons I got into hockey were seeing Todd Bertuzzi and Chris Chelios playing. I just liked their attitude on the ice, they had that “extra something”, I guess you could say. After watching a couple games around 2007, I really became active in learning as much as I could. I started by going on a site known as Yahoo Answers Hockey section where I can honestly say I’ve made friends for life. Ten years later and I’ve loved nothing more than being so completely active on what is known as hockey twitter.

For myself, hockey was an outlet when I needed one during some hard years in my life. Being a female fan, I always imagined is nothing different than being a male fan. Until you start loudly voicing your opinions that is. On ‘hockey twitter’, there’s not one day that goes by where I don’t see a girl getting a million questions thrown her way to prove she knows so much about the one sport we all love. Which in my opinion is just unfair. I’m not saying all guys do this but unfortunately this is the reality we live in and will continue to live in. The way I see it is, it’s up to us how we respond to the way some people may look at us as fans. I’ve been very loud about what players I happen to find attractive (James Neal is a stunning example haha!). I just chose not to let it bug me anymore and in a way to make the names your own and wear them like a badge of honour. Being a female fan of any sport is amazing. But being called a ‘puck slut’ who can honestly say, knows more so than the average joe? It’s amazing :).”

Shelley (@MsSunshineplz): “Hockey has been a lot of things for me. It was a way for my older brother and I to bond after living away from each other for years. The Penguins organization in particular always seems to have an impact directly on me.  It started over 10 years ago. It was the first season after the 2nd deployment. My father-in-law had recently passed and we were up for the funeral. Just to get away from everything, we went to an open practice (at the old facility). I watched the good natured fun(they always seem to have) and after practice waited outside (in the 42 degree rain) and they stopped and did pictures and autographs. I remember Marc-Andre Fleury in particular, because he was my then 7-yr old’s favourite player. He not only threw a puck over the glass to her inside but signed it and her jersey in the parking lot. In that couple hours of time, the pain and loss was forgotten for a while. Later that year when we came home for Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to be chosen for hometown heroes. Usually, they only give 2 tickets but they found 3 so our daughter could go. Being able to stand “behind the scenes” for half of the game and ride the zamboni will ALWAYS be an incredible memory.

I’ve encountered several players in the ‘real world’ and they are ALWAYS gracious and polite which further endears the sport to me. It’s hard to put into words exactly why I love the sport so much. The players, the speed, the action, and haha yes the fights. It’s just simply the best sport on the planet to me! The only dark side to it doesn’t even come from the actual sport or the players I’ve encountered. It comes from fellow ‘fans’ on social media that feel the need to ‘test’ my knowledge every chance they get. If I make an occasional emotional based comment, the hell I catch is sometimes endless.

I have everyone from housewives, hockey coaches, semi-pro players, retirees and KHL current players that follow me. Most have never said a bad thing and most tell me my analytic skills of picking a part the game for what is and isn’t working, is spot on. I don’t need validation although I appreciate when the pros tell me I’m right about something and I have stood my ground on many occasions where someone wanted to be a jerk or tell me to ‘get back in the kitchen and leave hockey to the men’. It doesn’t matter one way or another, I will continue to love the sport until I can’t watch it anymore!!”

(@khlee_28): “Why is it so impossible to believe that women can love any sport as much as a man can, or even more? Why is it especially impossible for that sport to be ice hockey? Is it because it’s so rough and since women are supposed to be dainty that they’re not “supposed” to enjoy it? Screw that.

When I moved to Vancouver for high school in 2009, we were on the brink of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada won gold. 2011, the Vancouver Canucks went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Anyone that was there at that time would inevitably be a fan. It was worse for me, it was at a time where I was going through puberty and trying to figure myself out, I found a whole new world when I found Hockey. Through the sport, I made long lasting friendships, I’m thankful to have something so unifying, it’s unlike any community.

I’m proud to love hockey, I’m proud to love the Canucks. I love the sport. And I love my boys. The Vancouver Canucks will always be a big part of my life. You either accept it or you don’t, you don’t have to question or speculate as to why it’s that way, it just is. I wish it was just commonly accepted that women are big hockey fans too. I don’t want to compromise my integrity by exposing my Canucks tattoo on my side every time I want to justify that I am a major Canucks/hockey fan. I want to not have to prove my love for the game. We are all Canucks. Hockey runs through all our veins.”

Me(@nucksaid): “Growing up watching sports wasn’t really a focus in our house aside from playoffs and the Olympics. One of our neighbours LOVED hockey and the Vancouver Canucks, often invited us over to watch the games. It didn’t take long before the game and the team completely stole my heart.

Falling in love with the game happened slowly and all at once….it became everything. Before you knew it, I was learning as much as I could about the game itself, the team’s history and current roster; memorizing every stat and driving my family crazy with my nonstop hockey talk. It became a part of my every day vernacular and impossible for me to miss a game. And when it became realized that this wasn’t a passing phase, I was gifted my first Canucks jersey(the count now sits at 9 and counting!). It became clear that I needed a bigger outlet other than long detailed Facebook statuses, and conversation. Someone suggested that I try starting a blog, and as luck would have it, I learned that I really enjoyed having a space to write about the Canucks as well as hockey in general. Nucksaid became my space to write.

Prior to starting my blog, attending a minimum of 3-4 games each season at the arena became mandatory including one every year on my birthday to now having become a season ticket holder. Being at the rink with 18,000+ other fans, from the calm before the storm of the game to blades hitting the ice, anthems, puck drop, the roar of the crowd, to the final buzzer, is one of my most favourite places in the whole world. Whether at the rink or watching the games from home or out with friends, whether it’s a win or a loss or whether my team is playing; the game itself has a calming effect on me.

As much as I love the game, my love of it is more often than not put into question by my male counter parts. Either I’m looked down on with derision and forced into having the game ‘man-splained’ to me OR they simply do not believe me that it’s possible for a woman to love the game the way they do and I’m put to the test on every stat in the book. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to a game and when in conversation about the game or the teams that are playing, every single thing I contribute is put through the google test before believing that I could be right. Or there’s the ones who ask if I know that I’m at a hockey game while decked out in hockey gear with 18,000 strong also dressed the same…but I’m the one confused about my location. Or they tell me that since they don’t like the jersey that I’m wearing representing my favourite player, that I should burn my jersey and the spiral of horrible commentary directed towards myself and other female fans hits the territory of words I cannot repeat.

It’s true that not all men are this way, some do welcome us to the hockey community without the constant testing of our knowledge or forcing us to prove our fandom. Some allow us to be a part of this world and share in the joy and the heartbreak that stems from the game itself and for that I’m grateful. They give me hope that this divide between us and them will not always be, that one day we can simply say we are all hockey fans regardless of who we are and that will be enough.”

I urge you all, if any of these experiences resonated with you or if you know someone who has felt the same, share the post and let’s all make it our aim so that in 2018 the sentiment of “hockey is for everyone”, actually becomes 100% true. We are all hockey fans.

As, always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

The Dark Side

No April Fool’s joke here, just the bold truth. When it comes to hockey and the Vancouver Canucks, I love everything about the game but this season has been a challenge not because of my team or any stat but because of my being a hockey fan who happens to be female. Lately I have been seeing a lot more of the dark side of being a female hockey fan. I’m not sure what is about this season in particular but this is the first time since the game stole my heart that I have had numerous experiences whether in the arena or attempting to engage in a hockey discussion that I have been made to feel that I am not good enough when it comes to knowing about hockey.

This season has been one in which I’ve been told too many times to count that in no uncertain terms that hockey and women do not go together. Any other ladies felt like this recently or in the past? Tell me, do any of the following statements sound familiar?:

  • “You can’t possibly understand the game, you’re a girl/woman. You only watch for the ‘eye candy.'”
  • “Women cannot understand the complexity that is hockey. It’s much too complicated.”
  • “You like hockey? Do you even know what that means or actually know anything about the game? Doubtful.”
  • “You probably don’t even know who’s jersey you are wearing. You probably only bought it because you liked the design/colours”
  • “If you want to understand the game, you should just not bother even trying.”
  • “You could not be more wrong about [insert hockey stat] if you tried”
  • “What you actually mean to say is…”
  • “Shh…please be quieter, we are trying to watch the hockey game.”

And worse than any of the above assumptions about females understanding the game are the statements made about us or to us that cannot be repeated. Or then there is the fact that we may have differing opinions or perspectives and that according to many mean that we must be wrong. Having a different opinion or perspective does not mean either of us is wrong, it just means we see the game differently.

Why is this normal? Why is this okay? When did it become acceptable and why is it still acceptable? This is 2017, if you love hockey at any level, all that matters is that you love the game not what gender you are. If you love the game, you love the game.

I understand that there are fans who know more about the game than me and some that may know less BUT that doesn’t mean any of us are any more or less of a fan. I love discussing the ins and outs of the game and discovering new facets of it BUT that does not mean that I or ANY other hockey fan should be looked down on IF we know less or more than another hockey fan.

Hockey is for everyone? It certainly has not felt that way at all for me this season.

In an ideal world, the belief that “hockey is for everyone” would be true always.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.