Print and Go Back espnW.com: Commentary

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
'Girl's Guide' to the hockey galaxy? My prayers are answered!

By Sarah Spain

This past Friday, "Blueshirts United," the official blog for the New York Rangers' website, featured a piece entitled, "A Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers." The article (well, actually, a super-cool, easy-to-read slideshow) was introduced as the first in a series of pieces written by outside authors from a "Contributors Network."

I feel like I see female hockey fans everywhere -- at games, watching at bars, writing on hockey message boards -- but I trust the Rangers. They wouldn't post a piece like this on their official website and Twitter account if we women didn't need help understanding and liking the sport.

So, in case you didn't get to read it for yourself, I'll walk you through the finer points of this insightful lesson on the NHL and one of its Original Six teams. The author of "The Girl's Guide," Mirna Mandil, leads off with an amusing anecdote from her personal life.

"I was recently one of four females in a house packed with about 20 guys watching the game -- football, I think."

Great start. Mirna wants to point out right off the bat that she's not overly concerned with details when it comes to sports; like, say, which sport it is she's watching. She also assures her readers that she's "not going to fake an alpha-male level obsession with a sport because, frankly, that just seems exhausting." Knowing this puts her readers at ease because they don't feel like they're being addressed by a real fan, hockey expert or someone otherwise qualified to write an article for the official website of an NHL team. Phew. How intimidating would that be?

Mirna also included a neat photo on the first page with a bunch of Rangers players in cool, casual clothes, hanging out with their dogs. The guys look super-friendly and hot when they're not wearing those bulky uniforms and carrying those intimidating sticks. Plus, PUPPIES!

Next, Mirna reminds her readers of an important fact: Men really like sports. All men. Everywhere. "When having either guy friends, brothers, boyfriends or husbands in your life," she wrote, "watching games in any sport becomes unavoidable." It's a chore and a hassle having those sports games on the TV all the time, but it's inevitable, gals, so you better learn about 'em if you wanna keep those boys happy!

Don't worry, the guide is gonna teach women who don't know anything about hockey exactly how they can learn to watch it. It starts by explaining the reaction to the end of the NHL lockout by speaking in a language all women know and love: Shop Speak!

"News of the NHL lockout's end caused as much excitement in the male world as a 70-percent off sale does in a woman's," Mirna wrote. Most women, in their woman world, had no idea guys were rejoicing about the return of hockey over in male world. Yeah, I guess men were seriously excited about the NHL and the NHL Players' Association agreeing on a new collective-bargaining agreement. (We're talkin' Carrie Bradshaw getting to take a tour of the Vogue accessories closet kind of excited, here.)

The guide also provided three simple steps to watching Rangers hockey. So easy! (I wonder if the team's female employees had to go through all three steps before they started to really understand and enjoy their jobs. Probably, yes.)

Step 1: Know when to ask the hockey-loving men in your life questions about the game.

"You need to sense the tension at certain points in the game and let [the men] do their jumping, screaming and cheering thing," Mirna explained. "You can tell if something huge has happened by their reaction ..."

Sage advice, Mirn. It can be really tough to tell if the puck goes in the net or if the ref messed up a big call or something, so why try to figure it out? If the guys are going crazy, something big happened. It's as easy as that. So don't bother them while they're doing their jumping, screaming and cheering stuff. Guys know women are gonna be confused and have lots of questions; just be sure you're not too annoying about asking them.

Step 2: Get to know the Rangers players.

"The Rangers' roster is easily available online," the guide explained. "And even though knowing a last name won't do much in terms of understanding the game, it will build up your connection when watching future games. You'll be more attuned to a game when you hear a name you recognize."

Just imagine: You're staring at the screen, watching players skate around and stuff, trying to figure out when the right time might be to ask your boyfriend which color the Rangers are wearing. All of a sudden, the play-by-play announcer calls out a play by Brad Richards. "Hey! I remember reading that name in the roster!" you'll exclaim. That's the thrill of hockey, right there. What a game!

The third and final step: Fawn all over super-dreamy Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. You're doing all this boring hockey-watching for the sole purpose of impressing the men in your life; you deserve a little something just for you.

"He's broken NHL records," Mirna wrote about Lundqvist "His nickname is 'The King.' He played 'Sweet Child O' Mine' on guitar during a recent episode of 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.' Don't you want him to do well? Don't you want to watch when he's on the ice? My point exactly."

Duh! Now that I know this goalie keeper guy is hot, I immediately want to watch him play hockey and invest myself in his personal successes and failures. Never mind there's a big, bulky mask that covers up his face and thick pads covering every square inch of his body. Google will provide endless photos I can look at while watching the game to see what he looks like under there.

According to the guide, if you complete those three simple steps, you're totes qualified to watch a Rangers game with the guys. Congratulations! And don't worry, Mirna already got permission for womenfolk everywhere to butt in and try to enjoy this man's sport.

"Before I wrote this article," Mirna explained, "I gave all the guys I spoke with the option of saying, 'I don't want her watching the game with me. It's my sport, leave it alone.' Not a single one of them took it."

Phew! Permission granted, ladies! Head on over to male world and get watchin'!

Oh, and if you want to see all of the guide's great advice word-for-word (and slide-by-slide), you'll have to try to find someone's screen grabs of it on the Internet. If you can believe it, the Rangers took the piece off their website after less than two hours! I guess a lot of people got real mad about it in the comments. Apparently, folks thought the piece was insulting to female hockey fans, full of gender stereotyping (women only watch sports to appease men) and tired clichés (girls are unable to watch hockey the same way that men do), poorly written and lacking any actual advice for those seriously interested in learning about hockey.

The Rangers apologized, saying, "The article was posted from a fan contributor to our website. We determined that the article was inappropriate and immediately pulled it down. We apologize to anyone who was offended."

I guess hockey fans can just post articles to official team websites without anyone approving them. Just another cool thing I learned about the sport from the Rangers! Of course, I missed all that drama 'cause I went straight to my Googler and started searching "Henrik Lundqvist Shirtless."

A couple images in, and I already feel like an expert! Thanks, Rangers ... Mirna can't be the only one with advice. "Blueshirts United" is gonna be my No. 1 stop for hockey talk from now on.