I really like watching hockey. I would love to be a rapid fan. The only problem is, I grew up in West Texas (where there is no water, much less ice) and live in Oklahoma where the term "hockey" means cow feces. In short, I don't get it.
Obviously, watching hours of hockey is a good way to "learn" the game. But the hard thing is, watching hours of hockey without understanding really blows chunks.
Any shortcuts, ideas, basic knowledge that would help get me over the edge?
I am just like THE ALIEN THE FATHERLESS THE WEIRDO
Man, that is an almost impossible question to answer. Like most other sports, there is just so much nuance that only comes from watching a lot of it...
As far as the appeal, I would basically say it's the perfect combo of Basketball & Football. Hockey takes the back & forth nature & pace of Basketball, & combines it with the physical intensity of Football.
Picking up the rules should come from watching a few games. If you really want to get into the nuance of Hockey I would suggest watching as much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as possible. It's hockey at it's best & most intense.
If you're not into it after 4 rounds of playoff hockey, then it's probably not the game for you...
The best thing, not that you'll be able to do it, is to attend a game and NOT watch the puck. You'll probably learn more by watching the action away from the puck than you'll learn by watching the puck.
That may be true for every team sport (i.e., don't watch the ball, watch the rest of the action) -- I'm trying to figure if there's one that it wouldn't apply to.
I'd suggest renting or buying NHL 2004 or a similar hockey title for PS2 (or XBox, if that's your preference). It'll help you pick up the rules better if you have the NHL defaults set, plus (at least) NHL 2004 is an awesome game anyway.
I bought one of the FIFA games a few years back and now I regular find myself making a viewing choice of say, the Sunderland-Birmingham City FA Cup 5th round match over the NBA Game of the Week, which pretty much came about since I played the game as Manchester United and happened upon one of their matches of Fox Sports World.
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Oklahoma City has one of the better minor league franchises and buildings in all of hockey. If you are anywhere near there, I would suggest you go and just watch a few games. Remember the only basic rules are your team cannot go into the other teams side of the blue line unless the puck has gone in first. You cant shoot the puck all the way down to the other end. You cant hit anybody really hard with your stick, or knee them or elbow them. And, if its something that to the uneducated, LOOKS like it should be illegal, it usually is. (really brief explanation, I know)
I tell you, I was getting misty-eyed during the alumni game. It really made me proud to be Canadian to see our game played outdoors, with a lot of fun had by all, even with a -28 windchill in the evening.