I don’t know if it’s because X-Files was canceled too many years ago and the nerds have gotten bored—but there seems to be a few too many conspiracy theories this post season. Lately, it’s been Vancouver Canucks fans who have gone FULL Red Wings fan on us with their level of suspicion. It’s like the extra men on the ice in Game 2 were the guys on the grassy knoll and Game 3 was played in Roswell, New Mexico. If a questionable call goes against them, it’s no longer because hockey is a game that is filled with borderline calls. That would be much too rational. Or boring.
No, every gray area call means there’s a grand scheme behind the scenes that is specifically designed to create heartache and pain. We’re at the point where the fans are tirelessly working to pull the curtain back in hopes of seeing the Wizard. Surprise—if you pull the curtain back, all you’ll find is an inept penalty kill. Get over yourselves… YOUR team is no different than any other team. All 16 teams want to win and as much as it pains the tin-foil hat wearers to hear this—maybe they’re losing games because the better team is actually winning.
As this season has seen the rise of another paranoid fan base, I can’t help but feel sorry for them. It’s almost like they’ve had to reinvent the wheel with how they created a world where everyone is conspiring against them. The reality is, in hockey (and any sport for that matter), evil plots usually have the same basic bullet points. In the interest of saving time for the next paranoid clan of fans, here are 5 things that fans should try to include when shaping a conspiracy theory.
Of course, the focal point of any myopic scheme to oppress a team starts with officiating. As most die-hard, objective fans know, your team is going to get good calls and bad calls. No matter HOW much fans would like the officials to be perfect, they won’t be. However, this fact shall be expressly ignored by concocting a grand tale of how your team is getting screwed. Be sure to highlight every single borderline call, throw your hands in the air, and call bullshit. But make sure you do it in a way that makes outsiders think that the call wasn’t a borderline call at all. Make it sound like it was obvious to the casual observer. And if replays show that you’re dead wrong, you can always fall back on the trusty, “The referees shouldn’t have called that at that point in the game.” It really is the answer for anything.
If we were just talking about a bad call here or there, the storytellers would only be able to invent a story on the Stephane Auger/Brian Dennehy level. No, to really, truly get into a conspiracy, the conscious decision to eliminate a team must come from the top. Government conspiracies don’t start with a lowly rental cop. Corporate conspiracies don’t start with the janitor. And NHL conspiracies don’t start with officials. If we’re to have a serious tin-foil hat convention, make sure that everyone knows the referees are merely a tool in the implementation of a plan set in motion by much more important people. In the NHL’s case, the important people are much shorter and arrogant. Here are some standards that have gained traction over the last few years. Feel free to use these—and if you’re feeling REALLY creative, you can come up with one of your own! (Pay no attention to the fact that some of these theories obviously contradict one another. It’s all about YOU and YOUR theory.)
- The league hates Canada and wants them to fail.
- The league will do anything it can to make sure Sidney Crosby wins.
- The NHL will fix games/series for Sunbelt teams in the US to prove that Bettman’s vision will work.
- The NHL wants teams in the Northeast to win because they get the league better ratings on NBC.
- Ken Holland has naked pictures of Bill Daly to ensure they get whatever they want.
Why would there be a scheme solely to screw you? To fully develop a strong conspiracy theory, you must start including reasons why outsiders would want your opponent to win. Capitals, Red Wings, and Flyers fans have found a standing excuse by claiming that Gary Bettman wants his baby boy Sidney Crosby to win everything. There’s been an article that claims that the Kings are getting the calls because Bettman wants his Sunbelt dream to thrive and that is only possible if that small, new market in Los Angeles is given extra advantages. Nevermind the fact that the Kings have been in existence longer than the Canucks and that Los Angeles is the second largest market in North America. If someone calls you on your weak and flimsy argument (because it will be weak and flimsy), just interrupt them and yell louder. It works for politicians, why can’t it work for hockey fans?
Luck happens. Players get good bounces, they get lucky bounces. Coaches will tell you that you make your own luck and if you play hard enough, you’ll get those bounces. But the fact is, sometimes the puck will hit a partition on the glass and redirect straight into your net. It sucks, but it happens. We all deal with it.
When bad luck happens to you and you’re formulating a conspiracy theory, you MUST cultivate all of these examples to your advantage. Use bigger words like “cursed” or “jinxed.” They make the situation sound much direr than simply saying “we were unlucky.”
Disassociate Yourself From ANY Responsibility
- If your team can’t score on the power play, it’s someone else’s fault.
- If your penalty kill was inept, it’s someone else’s fault.
- If you were a sub-par road team during the season and that trend continues during the playoffs, it’s someone else’s fault.
- If one of your players commits 5 penalties in 2 games because he’s a poor defenseman, do not acknowledge the fact that he takes penalties because he sucks. (Sidenote: Thank God it wasn’t Alexander Burrows who took those 5 penalties—can you imagine the uproar then?).
- If a player pulls out a gun and actually SHOOTS an opponent on the ice, point to the rule book and point out that it never expressly prohibits firearms during game play.
- No matter what happens on the ice, never, EVER take any responsibility. Once you do so, people will start seeing chinks in your armor. There is ALWAYS a bigger reason for the shit that happens during the game—but never your fault. Stay strong.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Any time you can add more points to your theory, the more believable it will be to idiots who will believe anything that makes their team seem less sucky. Add things that don’t have any bearing on the situation if you have to. The key is to hold up something shiny so delusional fans forget about the actual play on the ice that is truly costing them victories.
It’s a great idea to make some kind of reference to how the opposing city makes it virtually impossible to win in their building. Things that would fall under this category would be illegal noise makers such as cowbells, smaller rink surfaces, flying octopi/snakes/hats, or bad ice conditions.
Another fine practice is to boil an entire game down into one play. It doesn’t matter what happens for the other 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the game. If one thing goes against you, focus on that and make that the reason why you lost the game. If people ever bring up the fact that you had your opportunities, it’s best to blindly ignore anything they say and just start your argument over again. If you say it enough times and loud enough, chances are they’ll just give up. No one likes talking to a wall. And yes, you’re a wall.
And if you get really, really desperate, you can always blame your goaltender’s knob.