Watching Hockey for Newbies

cynical joe at Five Hole Fanatics says:

More than once I’ve noticed that new or casual Hockey fans mention that they have a hard time following the puck when they’re watching a game on TV. … When you watch a lot of hockey, you stop watching the puck as much, what you’re really ‘seeing’ is the patterns of offence and defence . . .

He’s talking about weak backhanded clearing attempts and cowbells in that post, but I think this is actually the most perceptive piece of the post. Anybody can talk about things in games wot drive em mad or how people fixate on things, but it’s actually fairly hard for veteran hockey watchers (going on 30 years for me) to think back and try to explain *how* to watch hockey.
My wife started watching hockey with me more this year, and is getting it now, but in the past has complained about exactly the same thing. She said, “How can you tell where the puck is?” and I say, “I don’t, but usually the players do. Watch them, and you’ll soon enough know where the puck is without having to see it.”
The problem hockey n00bs make is in trying to follow the puck from here to there. They don’t yet know what Walter Gretzky tried to teach his most famous son at the age of about 4: it doesn’t matter where the puck is now – where will it be later? There’s no shame in that – even some NHL players don’t understand this, never mind people who’ve never played the sport themselves – but it’s still a key to being able to more fully understand the game.

3 Replies to “Watching Hockey for Newbies”

  1. That seems to be one of those things that is best solved by seeing a game live – when you can watch the flow on the whole ice at once, it seems to “click”. As opposed to the TV, where you only see a small portion of the ice and the camera zips back and forth.

  2. Yeah, Linda seemed better able to follow the action when we’ve gone to a couple of live games. Problem is, they weren’t NHL level (CIS and Junior B) – so sometimes the players would make mistakes that no NHLer would and I’d have to explain what they did wrong. :)

  3. Yup. I remember when I first started watching hockey, I never had a hard time seeing the puck, but I hard time seeing how plays developed. Once I saw my first live game, it totally clicked.
    Sigh. Now I really miss hockey.

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