Name five of their players

How I got into hockey and learned to answer that question

Oh, to be squeezed into unreasonably priced seats watching grown men chase a tiny puck around a sheet of ice accompanied by thousands of inebriated people. Photo Brie Shimansky

Living in Montreal, it’s pretty hard to miss people’s almost cult-like devotion to the Habs. Still, I managed to avoid getting caught up in the hockey of it all. Looking back, it’s easy to blame it on misogyny—girls aren’t really socialized to be into sports, and when they push back against it, it’s always, “Oh you like the Habs? Name five of their players, define ‘offside,’ and tell me the final score of every game since 1979.” Like sir, why don’t YOU?

Personally, I love seeing women who truly know their stuff. It’s so empowering. Unfortunately for you though, I am not one of those women—I actually know no stuff.

So, when I decided to finally get into hockey this year, it made for some interesting realizations. Of course I don’t notice any of the obvious things that most fans do, like what they mean when they say ‘stick-handling’ or ‘short-handed goals.’ Instead, the first thing that comes to mind is the players’ outfits. I heard one of the broadcasters comment on the “beauty of the bleu, blanc, and rouge,” so apparently it’s only okay when he does it? But when I say, “Wow, I love the colours of the Calgary Flames uniforms! Very McDonald’s energy, but make it athletic.” The response is, “Ma’am, this is a Wendy’s.” 

The more I watch though, the more I get the hang of it. 

Now, I could totally name five players! Here we go:

Brendan Gallagher

An oldie, but a goodie! Gallagher’s name comes up a lot, mostly because he’s a good player, but also because he’s been with the Habs for over a decade now. Seeing him onscreen felt like a familiar face—as if he looked into my soul and said, “At least you can name one player.”

I’ve known about him for a while because a few years ago, when I was getting ready for bed and looking through my pyjama drawer, I pulled out this oversized red shirt that I had absolutely no recollection of acquiring. And that’s how I learned who he was—by randomly finding a tee in my laundry with his name on it, though I doubt he’ll ever have that same experience with mine. 

Nick Suzuki 

Suzuki is simply such a cutie. His smile just seems so genuine. He’s also really good, but I only know about him because he’s adorable. I heard one of the broadcasters call his game 'self-conscious,’ and it’s like babe, you’re here for a reason, you deserve to be here, believe in yourself! Maybe that’ll come with time. He’s so young! I know it’s a thing to draft young players, but I still find it so wild that a 21-year-old is out there playing professional hockey? Okay, a flex. I’d like to see some of the guys in my class try.

Tyler Toffoli

So much has been said about Toffoli lately, so you’d probably expect me to know about him because of the way he absolutely destroyed the Vancouver Canucks, right? Wrong. I know who he is because his wife tweeted the sweetest picture of him napping with his puppy. 

They looked so cuddly, and now all I can think about how precious him and his family are. Basically, this is a Cat Belanger Toffoli appreciation tweet. I love that for them. 

Alexander Romanov

Surprisingly enough, the woman who knows less about sports than I do, my mother, mentioned him to me—she called him “our comrade,” and that’s how I learned of Romanov’s Russian heritage. Also, when I was watching Hockey Night In Canada, colour analyst Garry Galley said something along the lines of how Romanov asked him to pronounce his name correctly and so that was why he was saying it differently. I just found it very condescending? Like, that’s his name… Redemption for Romanov, pronounced Ro-man-ov. My mom would have gotten it right.

Victor Mete

I actually discovered Mete when I was watching the game and thought to myself, “#53 is so hot.” Naturally, I googled him to find out who this mystery hottie was—then I quickly noticed that there were talks of trading him. This was so upsetting to me because I didn’t wanna lose him, like what if we had a shot (hockey pun). Then, I learned he was ENGAGED. Yes, that’s why we could never be together, because he’s with someone else and definitely not because he’s a professional hockey player. I’m happy for him and his soon-to-be wife, I guess. Now I kinda want him to get traded—I don’t need that reminder of what could’ve been.

So hockey gatekeepers, there you have it. I’m still not sure what ‘offside’ is, but I have a feeling I could find someone to mansplain it to me. As for the final scores, well, I know a few days ago we lost 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators because I tweeted about how their jerseys were the best part of the game. Luckily, the boys redeemed themselves today, though they did not look as good doing it.

And that’s when it hit me, this is how I relate to the world, and this is how I’ll relate to hockey—through humour.