Hockey is simply an exciting sport to watch and follow both in-person and on TV. It is a sport that any fan can and should be watching on a nightly basis with all the excitement that comes with it. Many sports fans are likely only recently starting to follow the game, and unfortunately, they might not have a team to root for because they weren’t born into a fanbase or never grew up in a city that had a team to root for. Regardless, every team has a legitimate argument to become a fan of, and some of the staff writers at The Hockey Writers have even given their testimonials for their teams.
It might seem odd to want to root for a team that has yet to play a single game. Moreover, the Seattle Kraken have no history, no prior success, and like many expansion franchises, has the ability to fail for years before establishing a true Stanley Cup contender. For a fan that is just starting to watch hockey and doesn’t have a team to root for, this might be the ideal situation, starting fresh with a brand new franchise.
While it’s understandable to be nervous choosing an expansion franchise, many hockey fans remember how the Vegas Golden Knights were able to turn their inaugural season into a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Though it’s unlikely Seattle will be as successful, there is reason to believe the team will have the pieces in place to be a competitive team in the near future. To quote Sean Mallon, staff writer at The Hockey Writers for the Seattle Kraken, “Between their embracing of analytics and technology, to their interactions with their marketplace and the things they’ve chosen to support, the Kraken looks like winners no matter how their inaugural season turns out.” It’s safe to say, if you are a new fan of the game, Seattle might be the ideal team to follow.
Tampa Bay Lightning
There is a legitimate argument for the Lightning being the most successful team of the past decade. Prior to winning the Stanley Cup this past season, the Lightning appeared in three of the previous five Eastern Conference Finals series, including the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Final. The team is not only built to win this season but with their history of finding talent in the NHL Draft or in offseason acquisitions, they appear poised to compete for the foreseeable future. While it’s easy to become a fan of a team that has some of the most talented players, including former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov, former Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and former Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman, being a fan of the team is more than just rooting for the franchise. Rather, there is a connection to the region.
Aside from the Lightning’s clear recent success, Andrew Mulville, staff writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers, noted about the organization itself, “The Lightning have a huge impact on the community in the Tampa Bay area. Each home game they give $50,000 to a nonprofit organization in the area and have given $20 million in total! I could go on for a long time about their community outreach and relationship with their fans. They have really become a focal point in downtown Tampa.” Aside from being a team that you can root for on the ice, they are a team that is great to root for in the general sense, even if not from the Tampa region.
It’s hard not to root for the team with two of the most exciting players in the game on the same roster. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not only two of the most exciting skaters in the game, but they are also two of the best all-around players in the game, with McDavid being poised to go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game, already passing 500 career points despite only being 24 years old. Moreover, the Oilers are one of the more exciting teams to watch with an offense that is effective both in the offensive zone and on odd-man rushes that results in the team often playing in high-scoring games.
While many younger hockey fans would associate the Oilers with the great players leading the team currently, the team is one of the more historic franchises, winning five Stanley Cup Championships with “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky leading the way. From one of the greatest to ever play the game to one of the greatest in the game currently, there’s a viable argument to choose the Oilers as a team to support if you are searching for a franchise.
Detroit Red Wings
The city of Detroit is known for having a great passion for their hockey; after all, “Hockey Town” is one of the city’s many nicknames. One of the more historic franchises that have won 11 Stanley Cup Championships, appeared in the playoffs for 25 straight seasons (a streak that ended in the 2016-17 NHL Season but was still one of the most impressive streaks in all professional sports), and 59 Hall of Fame players including Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk.
While the team has rapidly declined in the recent seasons and has looked like one of the worst teams in the NHL over the past five seasons, there is the reason for optimism for a rebuilding team known for building title contenders. Kyle Knopp, Red Wings staff writer noted, “With the #1 and #3 rated prospects (defenseman Moritz Seider and forward Lucas Raymond) likely making the roster next season and 22 picks in the next two NHL Entry Drafts — 12 alone in this upcoming draft — the Red Wings are building back from the ground up.” So they shouldn’t be a bad team for too long as a result. With Steve Yzerman, who helped craft the Lightning into the championship team they are today, back in Detroit as the general manager, there is understood confidence that the Red Wings will be competitive soon.
What Should Someone Look For in a Team to Support?
One of the things I would personally pay attention to when choosing a team is their style of play, particularly one that suits the individual taste. As a hockey fan, you might find a team that has scoring depth and can efficiently distribute the puck to be to your liking, or an intriguing team might be one that has plays physically and roughs a team along the boards. Likewise, roster structure is something that should be strongly considered, with some teams lacking star power but possessing depth instead and the opposite oftentimes also being the case. The bottom line is that prior to picking a team, one should do their research, and most importantly, watch the games.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November but has been a journalist for multiple blogs since the end of the 2019-2020 NHL season. While not following any specific team, Mike covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers, a team that has turned themselves into legitimate cup contenders with Barry Trotz as the head coach.