Although hockey is fun to watch on TV, it’s one of the most enjoyable sports to see live — or play yourself.

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 In February, the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group (led by billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer) filed to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle. If all goes according to plan, the new team will kick off the 2020-21 season at a newly renovated KeyArena.

Whether you’re a hockey fanatic or have never attended a live game before, there’s good reason to get excited. Although hockey is fun to watch on TV, it’s one of the most enjoyable sports to see live. The game offers nearly nonstop action with only a few breaks, and being there in person allows you to fully appreciate the speed and skill of the players — and really keep track of that rapidly moving puck!

Before the new team arrives in the Emerald City, here are five fun facts to know about the sport.

  1. NHL players can take on the job of referee

Full disclosure: This has only happened once in NHL history, but there’s a second time for everything! On Jan. 15, 1983, there was major snowstorm in Connecticut — but the Hartford Whalers decided the show must go on and they played the New Jersey Devils as planned.

Two refs couldn’t make it to the game because of the blizzard. When this happens, there’s an NHL rule that the two teams are left to to agree on a neutral party. If they can’t reach an agreement, the job falls to one player from each team. In the 1983 incident, an injured player from each team took on the job of ref until the regular refs showed up for the second period.

  1. Women and girls are a fast-growing segment of hockey players

At the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, the American women’s hockey team brought home a gold medal for the first time since 1998. Based on the increasing participation of girls in hockey, it won’t be a surprise if we strike gold again sooner rather than later.

In the 2016-2017 season, 75,832 American girls and women were registered with the NHL — a 32 percent increase compared to the 2006-2007 season. Meanwhile, the participation of boys and men increased 19 percent over the same 10-year period.

Is it too soon to ask if the National Women’s Hockey League will also bring a team to Seattle?

  1. You can learn to play hockey right here in Seattle 

The more you know about a sport, the more enjoyable it is to watch it live. And what better way to educate yourself than by playing in a hockey league yourself? Luckily, Seattle has an adult league, The Greater Seattle Hockey League, with a diverse array of participants that includes men and women of all ages — some of whom play well into their 70s.

GSHL has 16 different levels of play. For beginners there are Learn to Play classes. If you are a highly skilled player you’ll be in good company. Several former NHL players (or NHL draft picks) and former Thunderbirds and Silvertips players have played and reffed in the GSHL, including Jeremy Reich, Mitch Love, Al Kinisky, Jamie Butt, Danny Lorenz and Steve Tuttle. Local sports bigwigs like former Seahawks CEO and current NFL COO Tod Leiweke and Sounders COO Bart Wiley have also played. Major League Baseball player Dan Wilson, a star high school goalie in Minnesota, also has participated in a GSHL tournament.

The GSHL has approximately 1,300 players on 86 teams, and it’s one of the top 20 largest leagues in America. Given the high participation and the success of this league, the new NHL team has a ready-made audience when it arrives in the Emerald City.

  1. Washington already has a history with hockey

A century ago, the Seattle Metropolitans played at the Seattle Ice Arena as part of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Despite the fact that they only played between 1915 and 1924, the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. They were the first American team to prevail at the Stanley Cup, and it was eleven years before another American team (the NHL’s New York Rangers) brought home the cup.

Current NHL players who hail from Washington state include T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals, Derek Ryan of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Kailer Yamamoto, a prospect of the Edmonton Oilers.

  1. People are already debating what Seattle’s team should be called

What’s in a name? A whole lot when you’re deciding what a sports team should be called!

According to the most recent Bovada odds, the most likely names for the team are “The Seattle Emeralds” and “The Seattle Totems.” Other possibilities include the Rainiers, the Evergreens, the Sea Lions, and the Renegades. We’re partial to “Metropolitans,” but what’s your top choice?

Established in 2001, the Greater Seattle Hockey League has grown into the largest adult recreational ice hockey league in the Northwest and one of the largest in the country.