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The Stanley Cup Marathon: A Fan’s Survival Guide

Stanley Cup hockey requires grit, determination and endurance.

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You think the players have it tough? Imagine what the devoted fan goes through. The wee hours, the overtime games, the retreat from reality, the inevitable hockey fatigue. Compared to fans, the players have it easy at Stanley Cup time.

As the TV talking heads always remind us, it takes grit and determination to survive four rounds of playoff hockey. Here are a few tips to help you persevere, so when the Stanley Cup is finally handed out in June, you can turn to your spouse, surrender the remote and proudly announce: “Remember honey, it’s all about who wants it more!”

Plan ahead

Fill the weeks before the Stanley Cup Playoffs with parties, movies, shopping excursions, bowling nights, or whatever else usually comprises your “normal” life. This helps free up the crucial months of April and May. When among friends who don’t like hockey, be boring and unpleasant. They'll be less likely to invite you to some stupid cocktail party in the middle of the first round.

Pace yourself

Once in a while it's okay to down a six-pack by the end of the first period and spend the commercial breaks searching under the couch for old pizza. But if that's how it goes every night, how long are you going to last? Eat a real dinner, get some fresh air every day, get to bed in reasonable shape and be in top form for the big games.

Mark your territory

Why do you think houses have basements and rec rooms? Claim a corner of your dwelling that includes cable television and access to a fridge. At around 6:00 every night, start prowling this area, casting hostile looks at everyone and making strange feral noises. They’ll catch on soon enough and give you a wide berth.

Be honest

Why bother inventing excuses? Simply tell everyone that you are incommunicado until the big mug is handed out in June. The Unenlightened (those who don’t watch hockey) will appreciate the honesty: An alien spaceship, you say? Landed in the middle of downtown? And they come bearing the secrets to eternal youth and happiness? Well, yes, I’d love to go have a look, but the Stars and Red Wings are on tonight. Another time, perhaps.

Also, if anyone starts sneering at your devotion to the game, don’t even bother defending yourself: You’re right. I’m pathetic and have no life. So it's just as well that I'm not available for your boring, pretentious dinner parties until the playoffs are over.

Take a break

It’s Sunday afternoon, the Devils or Sabres are about to wrap up a four-game sweep. The last game was so one-sided you nodded off in the second period. Sounds like a perfect occasion for a walk in the park. You’ll be back in plenty of time if there's overtime.

Delay all major decisions

Hockey fans might be physically present at the office or dinner table at playoff time. But our minds are far away, already looking forward to another evening of puck-chasing.

In a hockey fan’s household, a springtime conversation can easily go something like this:

Spouse: I’m selling the children, cleaning out the bank account and flying to Albania for a sex change.

Fan: Okay dear. Have a nice time.

The lesson: Don’t agree to anything when the TV is on, and don’t engage in substantial conversation with non-fans until June.

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