Beyond the fact that both seasons occur around the same time, and that they both play 82-games, and the game itself is played 5 on 5 (not including the goalie), there are staggering similarities between certain NHL/NBA players and teams.
So just for you, I’ve compiled a quick guide to some NHL players/teams and their NBA counterparts, which should help you better understand who they are in context compared to the rest of the league. You will be able to jump into hockey conversations lightning fast and sound like a true hockey fan after you read this one. I guaranSHEED it. Or your money back.
And in case you missed it, here’s part 1 of this primer that I posted yesterday, which includes explanations of common hockey terms. So you can, you know, actually watch the game and understand what’s going on. That’s kind of important.
Sidney Crosby (C, Pittsburgh Penguins) = Kobe Bryant: Once in a lifetime talent, face of franchise, Champion in 2009. Polarizing. He’s a golden child in Canada and Pittsburgh, but it’s hit or miss everywhere else, although no one will EVER deny his talent, just like Kobe.
Alex Ovechkin (LW, Washington Capitals) = LeBron James: Once in a lifetime talent, face of franchise, not a champion. Playful and fun character, loves the spotlight, and before LBJ screwed the pooch and took his talents to South Beach, that was how a lot of fans viewed him, as well. And as with LBJ, people question Ovi’s ability to lead his team to a championship. (see also: Roberto Luongo, G Vancouver Canucks)
*There are always Sid-Ovi comparisons, just like Kobe-LBJ. And just like with Kobe-LBJ, the comparisons get old. Crosby is currently out with a concussion, so right now, Ovi wins. Suck it, Sid fans. I kid, I kid. I like Sid the Kid. Sometimes.
Steven Stamkos (C, Tampa Bay Lightning) = Kevin Durant: Great, young, explosive scoring superstar. Team is built around him. Made it to the conference finals but has yet to make a championship final. People think it’s only a matter of time before he gets there though. Good kid.
Joe Thornton (C, San Jose Sharks) = Steve Nash: One of the best playmakers in the league. Excellent vision, sees passing lanes that no one else sees. Won MVP. All Star. Has yet to win a championship. Just saw former team win a championship without him. Canadian.
Pavel Datsyuk (C, Detroit Red Wings) = Chris Paul: The definitive, most dazzling puck handler in the league. Strong defensive game. Elite playmaker but scores at will, as well. Probably my favorite non-Shark. Too bad he’s on the Red Wings.
Vancouver Canucks = Miami Heat: Completely stacked team. 3 of the best players in the league (Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler). Choked in the Finals last season. Everyone laughed.
San Jose Sharks = Dallas Mavericks: (Up until the last NBA season, this made complete sense. So just forget that the Mavs pulled off a stunner and won a championship and just…roll with this) Elite team year-in, year-out. Consecutive playoff appearances. Annual playoff disappointment.
New York Islanders = Golden State Warriors: Good young scoring talent (Michael Grabner and John Tavares). Team shows promise early, but really aren’t that good. Can be good in a couple of years but continue to be bottom dwellers for now.
If you like watching the Los Angeles Lakers vs the Boston Celtics…
You’ll probably like the Montreal Canadiens (aka the Habs*) vs the Boston Bruins (aka the B’s): Arguably (or unarguably) the greatest rivalry in the league. Tons of history. Lots of championships. Lots of bad blood. Last year, B’s defenseman Zdeno Chara nearly killed the Habs’ Max Paciorretty. True story. It’s always fun to watch Habs-B’s match-ups, especially in the playoffs.
*Yeah, it makes no sense to me either. Silly Canadians. Look it up here.
For example – game last season featured six fights, a goalie fight, and a total of 187 penalty minutes:
2:04 – Goalies Tim Thomas (BOS) and Carey Price (MTL) fight
5:48 – Players in both penalty boxes feeling awkward cause it’s a little crowded
7:50 – Nathan Horton (BOS) steals P.K. Subban’s (MTL) stick
12:17 – Boston Coach Claude Julien mouths something like “They’re a bunch of pucking fussies.”
14:05 – Most of both teams already sent to locker room, leaving this on the bench
If you like watching the Los Angeles Lakers vs the Miami Heat…
You’ll probably get into the Pittsburgh Penguins (aka Pens) vs the Washington Capitals (aka Caps): Marquee matchup for the league featuring bright young stars so they’re ALWAYS on television.
If you like watching the Chicago Bulls vs the Boston Celtics vs the Orlando Magic…
You’ll probably enjoy the Detroit Red Wings vs Chicago Blackhawks vs Vancouver Canucks: Any two of these three teams versus each other are just as good (if not) better than Pens-Caps games. And all these games should be on TV, but aren’t.
Frequently Asked Questions
And because I’m nice, here’s some bonus information. Feel free to use these answers verbatim when engaged in a hockey conversation. I will not sue you for copyright. And P.S. If you really are engaged in a hockey conversation with someone from here (The Bay Area), please give them my number. It’s hard to find a good hockey friend in this town.
Who the hell are Jumbo and Pickles?
Jumbo is Joe Thornton and Pickles is Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Hockey players/coaches/fans LOVE nicknames, no matter how ridiculous they are. A good rule of thumb is to just take the first syllable of their last name and add a -y to it. If you can’t add a -y, -er sometimes works, too. So to sound like a real hockey fan, just start shouting out nicknames. Pace yourself, though, because sometimes (a lot of times) it gets annoying…but it’s a start.
K, why is fighting allowed?
They’re meant to be a deterrent to cheapshotting, but fights typically happen to fire up a team that may be down in a game and needs a spark. It works especially well if a home team is losing because it gets the crowd riled up. Other times, stupid punks like Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) or Steve Ott (Dallas Stars) just deserve a beat down cause they like to start shit, and they need to be put in their place. And occasionally, a melee breaks out for no real reason at all, as seen here. It really just depends.
Wait — wasn’t that icing?
Don’t worry, friend, I still get confused with this too at times. Most of the time the ref waves it off, and let’s play continue. So it’s best to pay attention to the ref when it looks like icing is going to happen. I don’t watch the ref all the time so that’s why I get confused. It also helps to listen to the broadcast.
So who’s the best team in the league?
The San Jose Sharks. And maybe the Pens, Caps, Canucks, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Kings, Bruins and then maybe throw in the Lightning, Flyers, and Rangers in there, as well. Yeeeeaaaah, there are a lot of good teams.
I heard you have season tickets. Can you hook it up?
You heard wrong. I, myself, have a 10-game pack. One of my friends has season tickets, though, four seats, and he hooks me up all the time. If you truly want to go, which I highly suggest you do, then hit me up. I got you, man.
All done. Whoa, that was a ton of information. Maybe I should make a wallet-sized printout for you. Wait — maybe YOU should make a wallet-sized printout for yourself.
Have you forgotten about the NBA yet? NO???
Look, I’m not trying to convert you, I’m simply saying give it a chance. Or not. Whatever.
Can’t say I didn’t try. I did my best to be a good friend. It’s your loss. Maybe you can start watching NASCAR or something.
- PHT’s NHL primer for disenchanted NBA fans (prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com) (Good Read – JQ)
- The NBA Fan’s Guide To Feigning Interest In Hockey During The Lockout [Nhl] (deadspin.com)
- An NHL Primer for Distressed NBA Fans! (No Neck Tattoos here!)