And with the NHL emergence of our Seattle Kraken comes a universe of hockey rules, terms, teams, traditions and more — much of it brand-new to many Seattleites, whether fair-weather fans or faithful sports nuts.
And there’s a lot to cover.
Only Major League Baseball has a longer history of professional sports in North America. The NHL’s top prize, the Stanley Cup, outdates all other American trophies, not to mention the invention of plastic, air conditioning and the airplane.
On the ice, hockey players and fans are quite superstitious. Player rituals take many forms; some NHLers get dressed in the exact same order before every game (i.e., left skate then right skate, left glove then right glove), while other skaters refuse to leave the rink after warm-ups until every other skater has left the ice.
That’s not to mention the charms and curses that are commonplace come playoff time — in Detroit, fans throw a dead octopus onto the ice, while in Nashville, they chuck catfish. Bushy, unkempt playoff beards bring postseason success, while touching the Clarence Campbell or Prince of Wales trophies after winning a conference championship spells doom. As early as peewee hockey, preteen players are warned not to touch the Cup, lest they be cursed not to lift it themselves.
Did we mention that hand-to-hand combat is a semiregular part of the sport?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this exciting, fast-paced game. Maybe you caught a preseason game and could hardly follow the puck, so you’re looking for the basics on how hockey is played, or what those blue and red lines on the ice signify. Or maybe you’re a lifelong Seattle sports fan looking for a crash course on all things hockey and the NHL so you can hit the ice skating now that the Kraken are in town.
No matter your reasons, we wrote this to serve as the average person’s guide to hockey culture.
Keep reading for do’s and don’ts before your first hockey game at Climate Pledge Arena, a little dictionary of hockey terms you might hear around the rink, and blurbs on basic things to know about the other 31 NHL franchises.
Click below or scroll down to navigate through.
Do’s and Don’ts
You snagged the hottest ticket in town and are headed to Climate Pledge Arena to see our Seattle Kraken face off with an NHL rival. Here’s what to expect at the rink.
Don’t wear shorts unless you like the cold. Layers are your friend.
Do wear a jersey (known as a “sweater”). Hats are acceptable, as are actual sweaters.
Don’t be surprised if our Kraken players and their opponents push each other in front of the net, regularly, after the whistle calls play dead. But it’s a fine line between shoving and trash talk and taking a minor penalty.
Do throw your hat on the ice if a Kraken player scores three goals, called a “hat trick.”
Don’t expect to get your hat back.
Do take bathroom breaks and/or get snacks during intermission. It’ll be a little while.
Don’t be surprised if players drop their gloves and engage in a quick fistfight. (Though fighting happens less than it used to.)
Do feel free to express your anger at the referees/linesmen after a bad call. Proper form? In a 1-2-3 rhythm, shout: “Ref! You! Suck! Ref! You! Suck!”
Don’t be shocked if fans jaw at each other and even get into an altercation, verbal or physical, in the stands or around the arena.
Don’t be that fan.
Do taunt the opposing goalie if he lets in a bad goal or goals. The classic goalie taunt, using Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko as a template: “Demmmmmmm-ko … Demmmmmm-ko … Demmmmm-ko … YOU SUCK!”
Don’t freak out if a goalie leaves the net while play continues — when a goalie gets to the bench, their team can send out an extra skater. This happens after delayed penalties and late in the third period, when teams “pull the goalie” in an attempt to even the score with an extra attacker. If the referee has his arm raised, a delayed penalty has been called; when the penalized team touches the puck, play is called dead and the goalie returns.
Do wait to leave your seats until the 14-, 10- and 6-minute mark of every period for TV timeouts.
Don’t worry if you lose track of the puck. It’s small and hockey players can skate faster than 20 mph. If you lose sight of the biscuit, look where the hockey players are looking.
Hockey players, coaches, fans and commentators have a colorful vocabulary. Here are some outside-the-box terms to beef up your Krak-nacular, from apples to the Zamboni.
Apple, n. | Definition: Another name for an assist, the pass that leads to a goal.
Barn, n. | Definition: A hockey rink.
Beaut(y), n. | Definition: Term of endearment among hockey players for either a great player or play (e.g., “He’s/she’s/they’re a beauty”; “What a beauty” after a pretty goal).
Biscuit, n. | Definition: Alternate name for a hockey puck. (See Fig. 1)
Breakaway, n. | Definition: When an attacking player is in all alone against the opposing goalie.
Bucket, n. | Definition: Alternate name for a helmet. (See Fig. 1)
Celly, n. | Definition: A goal celebration.
Chiclets, n., pl. | Definition: Teeth, especially when extricated from the mouth.
Chirp, v. | Definition: To talk trash to an opposing player.
Dangle, n. or v. | Definition: 1 A stick move to make a goalie or opposing player miss. 2 To complete a stick move with the same intent.
Deke, n. or v. | Definition: 1 Hockey-specific word for a stick move to evade an opposing defender or goalie. 2 To execute said stick move.
Dirty, adj. | Definition: A well-made move (e.g., a “dirty” dangle).
Five hole, n. | Definition: The space between a goaltender’s legs. (The other four holes are the corners of the nets; the six and seven holes are under a goalie’s arms and are less commonly referenced.)
Flow, n. | Definition: Hair, often left long. Also known as “lettuce.”
Gino, n. | Definition: Alternate name for a goal.
Gordie Howe hat trick, n. | Definition: A single player picking up a goal, an assist and a fight in a single game.
Hat trick, n. | Definition: Three goals scored by a single player in a game.
Hoser, n. | Definition: A loser. Allegedly stems from the practice of the losing team hosing the pond after a game of pickup hockey (see “shinny”).
Mitts, n., pl. | Definition: Hockey gloves. (See Fig. 1)
Odd-man rush, n. | Definition: An attacking play in which offensive players rushing toward the opposing goalie outnumber the defenders in their way.
Original Six, n. | Definition: The six founding franchises of the National Hockey League: the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Period, n. | Definition: One-third of a hockey game, 20 minutes of game time. Not to be confused with a “quarter” or “half.”
Plug, n. | Definition: A bad player.
Sauce/saucer pass, n. | Definition: A pass that travels through the air to a teammate.
Shinny, n. | Definition: Informal hockey where you don’t elevate the puck, traditionally played on the pond or lake.
Sieve, n. | Definition: A bad goalie.
Sin bin, n. | Definition: Another name for the penalty box, where players are sent for rule infractions.
Soft, adj. | Definition: A bad goal or play (e.g., “the goalie, a sieve, let in a soft goal”).
Stanley Cup, n. | Definition: The grandest prize in hockey (and, arguably, all of sports), a silver cup presented to the NHL champions. It was first presented in 1893 and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, once the governor general of Canada.
Sweater, n. | Definition: A hockey jersey. (See Fig. 1)
Top shelf, n. | Definition: The area directly underneath the crossbar, the iron bar that forms the top of the net.
Twig, n. | Definition: A hockey stick. (See Fig. 1)
Zamboni, n. | Definition: The vehicle used to resurface, or “clean,” the ice. AP Style probably prefers “ice resurfacer.” Do not call it that.
Around the NHL
Which teams are good? Which are bad? Which hate each other? Get familiar with the other 31 NHL franchises and their claims to fame before the regular season. Then you can spout these fun facts at the arena and pretend you know what you’re talking about.
Which came first: the Ducks or “The Mighty Ducks”? Disney founded the team in 1993 and named it after the 1992 movie. The team was sold in 2005 and dropped the “Mighty” before winning the 2007 Stanley Cup. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Teemu Selanne (1995-2001; 2006-2014)
The Coyotes were actually kicked out of their arena for next season; no, really, this is the often-struggling franchise’s last year in Glendale. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Shane Doan (1996-2017)
This Original Six franchise has been a perennial Eastern Conference contender for more than a decade. The Bruins have just one Stanley Cup to show for their 2000s dominance, losing the Cup Final to Chicago and St. Louis in 2013 and 2019, respectively. Stanley Cups: 6; Notable player: Bobby Orr (1966-1976)
The Sabres lost the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals in agonizing fashion and have been trying to get back since. The Sabres have missed the playoffs every season since 2011 and have finished no better than sixth in their division since 2013. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Dominik Hasek (1992-2001)
Known more for the stampede than its sports, Calgary hasn’t had a strong Flames team in some years. Last year it looked like they’d be a contender in the Canadian division, but it wasn’t to be — the squad missed the playoffs. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Lanny McDonald (1981-89)
The Canes, nicknamed the “Bunch of Jerks” for the team’s on-ice “Storm Surge” celebrations after home wins, have embraced their role as agitators. Following 10 seasons outside the playoffs, the team has made three consecutive postseason appearances under coach (and Cup-winning former captain) Rod Brind’Amour. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Ron Francis (1998-2004)
The Blackhawks are another Original Six team trying to extend its championship window. Built around the core of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Hawks hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Stanley Cups: 6; Notable player: Patrick Kane (current)
The Avs have been a regular pick to win the Western Conference in recent years (including this one), but the team has been mired in second-round playoff exits. Colorado last won the Cup with Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and pals in 2001, less than 10 years after moving to Denver from Quebec City. Stanley Cups: 2; Notable player: Nathan MacKinnon (current)
Columbus Blue Jackets
After joining the NHL in 2000, the Blue Jackets won the franchise’s first playoff series in 2019, sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning, which had the league’s best record in the regular season. The Jackets have had trouble keeping star players in Columbus despite firing a replica 1857 Napoleon cannon at every game. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Rick Nash (2002-2012)
Formerly the Minnesota North Stars, the Stars have claimed their own identity in Dallas. Winners of the 1999 Cup Final, they faced Tampa Bay in the COVID-era bubble Cup Final in 2020. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Mike Modano (1988-2010)
Detroit Red Wings
The Wings were an Original Six power, a dynasty with Gordie Howe in the 1950s and ’60s, the “Dead Things” until a 1980s renaissance — then an NHL power for 30 years. The Wings have since missed five postseasons straight; when they return to the playoffs, fans will lob an octopus onto the ice, a tradition that dates back to the 1952 playoffs. Stanley Cups: 11; Notable player: Steve Yzerman (1983-2006)
Calgary’s opposite in the Battle of Alberta, the Oilers are known for having Wayne Gretzky in their 1980s Stanley Cup heyday, when they won four titles in a row. The team subsequently traded “the Great One.” Now, they’re known for wasting generational talent Connor McDavid’s best years. Stanley Cups: 5; Notable player: Wayne Gretzky (1979-1988)
First hitting the ice in 1993, the Panthers went on a surprise run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals but have failed to return. The team has now made the playoffs two seasons in a row, losing last season in a thrilling first-round series to the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the Lightning. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Aleksander Barkov (current)
Los Angeles Kings
Don’t call them purple, it’s forum blue. The Kings might not have flashy jerseys anymore, but they were a notable team of the 2010s with a pair of Stanley Cup wins. Stanley Cups: 2; Notable player: Anze Kopitar (current)
What is a Wild, exactly? Good question, and the team has struggled to have an on-ice identity as well. Kirill Kaprizov won last season’s Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year, so perhaps they have better years ahead. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Kirill Kaprizov (current)
This Original Six franchise is fresh off a surprise run to the Cup Final earlier this year, and has more hockey history and Stanley Cups than any other team. Les Habitants, or “the Habs,” last won the Cup in 1993; no Canadian team has hoisted hockey’s Holy Grail since. Stanley Cups: 24; Notable player: Maurice Richard (1942-1960)
“Smashville,” which claims the rowdiest crowd in the league, throws catfish onto the ice before big games, but is still seeking its first Stanley Cup win. They lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Pekka Rinne (2001-2021)
New Jersey Devils
After losing the 2012 Stanley Cup to the Kings, the Devils have made the playoffs just once. The team added coveted free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the roster this offseason, hoping to add some scoring to a young core headlined by 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick Jack Hughes. Stanley Cups: 3; Notable player: Martin Brodeur (1991-2014)
New York Islanders
The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983, making them the last team in any major professional North American sport to win four consecutive titles. The Isles have not returned to the Cup Finals since the year after that run, but under coach Barry Trotz, the stingy team has become a contender once more. Stanley Cups: 4; Notable player: Mike Bossy (1977-87)
New York Rangers
After Cups in 1928, 1933 and 1940, the Stanley Cup returned to New York in 1994, when captain Mark Messier guaranteed the Rangers would come from behind to defeat the Devils before beating the Vancouver Canucks to hoist the Cup. Henrik Lundqvist, one of the best goalies of this century, recently retired from this Original Six team. Stanley Cups: 4; Notable player: Brian Leetch (1987-2004)
The Senators have been in the headlines more frequently in recent years for off-ice scandals — cyberbullying among players’ wives and girlfriends, a leaked Uber video of Senators players bashing their coaches — than on-ice success. This team is rebuilding and hoping to return to relevance. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Daniel Alfredsson (1994-2013)
Known as the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s, the Flyers have been a just-OK, on-again, off-again playoff team since losing the 2010 Stanley Cup to the Blackhawks in heart-wrenching fashion. Maybe best known currently for their fuzzy, orange, allegedly harmless mascot, Gritty. Stanley Cups: 2; Notable player: Bobby Clarke (1969-84)
The Penguins are among the most storied franchises in the NHL, a team that hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2006 — the rookie season of Sidney Crosby, arguably the greatest player of the 21st century. The Pens won three Cups between 2008 and 2017 but have not won a playoff series since 2018. Stanley Cups: 5; Notable player: Mario Lemieux (1984-1994; 1995-97; 2000-06)
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks literally enter through a shark mouth when skating onto the ice, and they also had the most iconic intro video in the league in the 1990s. Once a Western power, they’ve never quite gotten over that hump. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Patrick Marleau (1997-2017; 2019-20; 2020-21)
St. Louis Blues
One of the first expansion teams in league history, the Blues were, for some time, best known for being the team that lost to Bobby Orr in one of hockey’s most iconic photos. They got revenge 40 years later with a dramatic, worst-to-first Stanley Cup run to beat the Bruins in 2019. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Brett Hull (1988-1998)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Coming off back-to-back Cups, the Lightning could complete the first Stanley Cup threepeat since 1980-83. They’ve made few friends along the way. Tampa celebrated its titles with a boat parade, so UW sailgaters looking for an Eastern Conference team: This is the bandwagon to join. They also have a Tesla coil INSIDE their arena! Stanley Cups: 3; Notable player: Martin St. Louis (2000-2014)
Toronto Maple Leafs
This Original Six franchise was a dominant force in the early days of the NHL, winning 13 Stanley Cups between 1917 and 1967. The team has not returned to the Stanley Cup Finals since that 1967 win, and has not won a playoff series since 2004. Stanley Cups: 13; Notable player: Dave Keon (1960-75)
The Canucks are ready-made to be the Kraken’s archrival. Our neighbors to the north have bright young stars in Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and are hoping to make deep playoff runs in the years to come, a feat that’s eluded them since a loss in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals that resulted in an infamous riot. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Roberto Luongo (2006-2014)
Vegas Golden Knights
The Knights, the NHL’s latest expansion team before the Kraken showed up, created unfair expectations for the Kraken with a Cup Finals appearance in their first season; in the Western Conference, this other recent expansion team stands to be a rival. The most dramatic pregame presentation in the league includes a knight fighting the opposing team’s namesake and also ice-fire. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Marc-Andre Fleury (2017-2021)
The Capitals have missed the playoffs just once since 2007 and are captained by Alexander Ovechkin, currently the sixth-most prolific goal scorer in NHL history. The Caps had a reputation for regular season dominance and postseason shortcomings but exorcised their playoff demons with the team’s first Cup in 2018. Stanley Cups: 1; Notable player: Alexander Ovechkin (current)
The whiteout during the playoffs makes the Jets stand out as one of the more noisy, intimate crowds in the entire league. The second edition of the Jets, after the original moved to Arizona in the 1990s, these ones come from the Atlanta Thrashers relocation in 2011. Stanley Cups: 0; Notable player: Connor Hellebuyck (current)