Two of Hearts

My name is Pants, and I support two hockey teams.


A while back, @eyetotelescope suggested we address the idea of liking more than one team. Many of you are in the same boat (er, on the same door) at this treacherous time of year, when four-point games rain down, winning streaks become glorious victory marches and slumps are loose bars on a shark cage discovered after you’re already underwater.

Today is the perfect day for this post. I don’t just support two teams, I picked the Penguins and Capitals. Rather, they picked me. Divisional rivals who actively dislike each other, currently a single point apart in the standings – Pens in the playoffs, Caps in a wild card spot. The Caps have beaten the Pens the last I-have-blocked-out how many times. It’s pretty much the worst pair of favorites available.

They play tonight in DC and I will be there, wearing a Pens jersey.


So, for your cheating heart and mine, here is my guide to supporting two (or more) hockey teams.

Rule One: Know your favorite

I like the Capitals. I love the Penguins. Between the two, there is no contest.


More simply: The Capitals are my Horcrux. A piece of my soul is in there – and while it hurts, sometimes they must be destroyed. Tonight, I don’t care if Slapshot hugs me on the concourse or free ice tea and nachos are hand-delivered at intermission by a sweaty, Under Armor-ed Mike Green. None shall pass. Not this night.


Maybe your favorite team was determined by geography, or you inherited a family allegiance. Perhaps you’re riveted by the excitement of trap defense! (Psych – no one is. Explain yourselves, New Jersey.)  When I say I am a Penguins fan:

  • Unsuspecting stranger: “Are you from Pittsburgh?”
  • Me: “No, I’m from upstate New York.”
  • Person, now approaching edge of cliff: “Shouldn’t you like the Rangers?”
  • Me: PUSH


Kidding. If a person wants my hockey life story from ’91 to present, they can have it. But it ends like this: Penguins first. Capitals second. Blackhawks third, but I couldn’t maintain this even in a Cup-winning season, so it doesn’t count. Then everyone else, and Flyers/Rangers last. Everybody knows their place.

Rule Two: Own your infidelity

As a Pens fan first, living in the DC area, I must often betray a lovely Caps fan who has unwittingly befriended me.

  • Me: “Actually, the Penguins are my favorite team.”
  • New friend: “Prepare to die.”

Nowhere does it say you must like only one team. Second (or third, fourth) favorite teams come about in more interesting ways! You move away from home. A player gets traded.  Hell, RNH’s eyebrows are the only things selling tickets in Edmonton these days. I’d love to know how your second-favorite teams snuck into your hearts and set up camp.


My story centers around the 2011 Winter Classic. Not the game – David Steckel should walk into my office right now so I can put my stapler through his face. Rather, the lead up to the game ruined me, in three easy steps:

  1. NHL: “Crosby vs. Ovechkin is a thing. See all these TV commercials? We are making fetch happen.”
  2. Mr. Pants: “How would you feel about moving to the DC-area?”
  3. HBO 24/7: Penguins vs. Capitals.

I never liked the Caps growing up, but since they’d switched out of the Pens conference in ’93, I hadn’t cared. The League’s insistence on this rivalry brought the Caps into my home and my Center Ice feed. I tried to resist. This blog, born September 6, 2010, was originally full of me making fun of Mike Green – and meaning it. Then something happened.


Mike Green’s belt. Four years later, still hilarious.


Here’s my original post about my descent into madness. The more I got to know the Caps, the more I liked them. Then I moved to the DC area. I went to my first Caps game two days later and watching my new “home” team, I couldn’t help hoping they did well. Not that well, but you know. Just a little well. Is that so bad?


I KNOW, OKAY?! But it was too late. This is why you should vaccinate your children.


Fine print: We won’t even knock Taylor Swift for performing in nearly every hockey jersey in the league. If the girl likes hockey, she is cool with us. But support too many teams and it’ll look as if you don’t really like any. [Google images gallery] Now, if Taylor turns up with an encyclopedic hockey mind, we retract this statement and offer her a guest blogger password.

Rule Three: Hold your ground

Firmly establish the hierarchy between your teams. It will be the most important component of your fandom. Favorites first, always. Even if it means Caps fans, who were your friends ten minutes ago, are taking this picture of you when the Pens go down 4-1:

sad face

Perhaps your teams are in different divisions or conferences (the relief!). But they will eventually play each other. If you’re the two conference type, your greatest dream and worst nightmare could come true at the same time: your teams play each other in the Final. Arrive unprepared and you’ll be like Bella, trapped in the freezing cold and of course you have to cuddle with the shirtless werewolf or die, while the vampire is right outside listening to a pervy inner monologue. It’s your fault for not having a jacket.


Don’t look so comfortable.

This gets tough in tight playoff races, like the Pens and Caps have now, when you kind of have to root for Team #2 to lose against everyone. They’re too close to Team #1, or in front of them, and basically ruining everything. Horcruxes, people. We never said it would be easy.


Rule Four: Have a sense of humor

I have been chirped for my Crosby jersey at games in LA, San Jose, Anaheim, Atlanta (remember that experiment?), New York (Rangers) and, of course, DC.  I just laugh.  Luckily, most hockey fans are awesome and even if they hate Sid and the Pens, they’re nice to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I prefer to think it’s because I’ve obeyed rules 1-3 and I know my stuff. And I’m just waiting for this moment:

  • Announcer: “Penguins goal by Sidney Crosby. His 20th of the season.”
  • Caps crowd: “Who cares?”
  • Me: “I do. I care.”

But I won’t lie – I hope Mike Green scores one. After the Pens score ten.


Rule Five: It’s your party

How can you like two teams?! Teams that hate each other? How can you be at odds with the fundamental tenet of sports? Obviously you are an idiot/bandwagoner/in it for the hot guys/not a real fan.  That argument can (and will) be used against you for a litany of imagined offenses no matter who you root for. We say do what you want. Love who you love. Stay weird.


Finally, if you’re a one-team kind of person, know this: I envy you. I have a lot of love to give, which leaves a lot of open wounds when my teams don’t love me back.  I trade slightly better odds of winning for twice the angst come spring and playoffs. Told you I was bad at math.

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  1. 2013 was SO AWKWARD when the Bruins faced the Blackhawks in the Final. Of course I wanted Boston to win, but Chicago had been my #1 Western Conference team since the days of the Campbell Conference. And then I moved to L.A. 6 years ago and started going to Kings games with a friend about 2 years ago. And Ben Bishop was really amazing last year and I had him in my fantasy league, and the Bolts can play some really exciting hockey, so believe me, I feel ya!

    • Pants Reply

      Fantasy hockey definitely impacts this! I love it because it’s a good reason to pay attention to more teams. Then by November, I have no time for other teams and give up entirely. But I learn about other teams via fantasy hockey in a way I never could just reading headlines.

  2. One of my favourite WUYS posts ever, and it’s got literally nothing to do with me having suggested this topic. The life of a fan of multiple teams is ROUGH, y’all, and I’m so glad there are others out there in the same boat – err, on the same door. I envy the people who have one team and one team only, and even better yet, whose one and only team is the team of the city they live in, because that just isn’t me.

    Boring hockey life story ahead: I’m a Hawks/Pens fan (I used to say Hawks #1 and Pens #2 but lately I’ve realized it’s more of a #1A/1B kind of thing so I’m already breaking Rule No. 1 – sorry Pants), but because I was raised in – and still live in – Toronto, I also support the Leafs as my #3. The Olympics were what hooked me on hockey (I’m apparently the only Canadian who didn’t watch the NHL as a kid and I used to only watch Olympic hockey), and Crosby & Toews (who were my favourites during the 2010 and 2014 Olympics) were what initially led me to check out the Hawks and Pens. After watching a lot of different teams’ games (I like to do my research), I affirmed my love for the Hawks and Pens, but with a (slight? moderate? I’m still not sure) preference for the Hawks, hence this whole #1A/1B thing. But I can’t NOT support the Leafs due to city loyalty (also because I refuse to be the kind of hockey hipster who cheers against their hometown team), so I cheer for them on the side too (and I will probably cry if they ever win the Cup again). So I’m stuck with three teams, and I get a lot of digs about it.

    As Pants much more eloquently puts it, I love who I love, and that’s that. I own jerseys for all 3 teams, I’ve seen them all play live, and I try to watch each and every single one of their games. It can be all a bit ridiculous at times, but no pain, no gain, or something like that!

    • Pants Reply

      I think “#1A/1B” is a solid enough distinction. Though after Pens/Caps last night, I can definitely say that 1B does not apply to my list.

  3. This is RIGHT on. It told my students I am a Pens fan first and a Predators fan second (because that’s where James Neal is). They didn’t understand. But i think I might print out your blog and make them read it.

    • Pants Reply

      My parents would be really proud if this were read in a school!

  4. Alicia Reply

    Thankfully my number one & number two teams are not in the same division. That must be difficult for you Pants. My favorite team is the Washington Capitals, because I got back into hockey when I lived near Washington D.C. for a short time. It seemed that there was always a game on, I loved the players personalities and their style of play. Who could resist Matt Bradley as the Professor?
    My second favorite team is the Ducks. I was made fun of for cheering them on during the season of their Stanley Cup win. I mostly live on the West coast, so I figured it was only fair that I get two teams, otherwise I would never get to see hockey games. I was sad when Bruce left the Capitals, but was happy in the same week because he went to the Ducks. Also, Matt P. was a nice addition for a short while.
    When I see the Capitals play against the Ducks in California, I proudly Rock the Red even when I go to the game by myself. I must admit that I do tell those around me that I also like the Ducks. I provide proof by showing them pictures I took while watching the Ducks practice preseason.
    I appreciate hockey and love to see the game played, no matter who is playing. I have a hard time hating on players or teams because I am in awe of their talent and skill. I can even say that Crosby is an amazing hockey player even though I am an Ovechkin fan.

    • Pants Reply

      You got lucky with so much Caps traffic coming to the Ducks! I lived in LA for 5 years and always preferred the Ducks to the Kings, even if getting to Anaheim was the bane of my existence. To arrive in time for warm ups, I basically had to leave the night before.

  5. Kate Reply

    I fall for the underdog, and I also love a good narrative. The Pens are my #1 love you forever hopelessly devoted to you team, because I moved in 2008 and found myself watching the Stanley Cup Finals while packing boxes (as the series went on, it was mostly just watching the finals while being surrounded by clutter.) And darn it if I didn’t fall in love with those little babies from Pittsburgh, taking on the old guard Red Wings. When they lost, I cried my eyes out and that’s when I knew I was a goner. And then the 2009 finals were just gravy. And then the 24/7 series cemented everything. Whenever I hear the song “Hospital Beds” by the Cold War Kids, I am hit with the biggest wave of nostalgic Sidney Crosby love.

    Second place fave: The Stars. The Tyler Seguin trade story made me care about the Stars, the redemption story, the “let’s prove them wrong” bromance and they tried so hard against the Ducks in the playoffs. (And yes, fine, Jamie Benn is a beautiful wide eyed adorable man.)

    I do consider myself a Blackhawks fan, but I think that might just be because they’re the closest team geographically to me? Honestly, I think the Blackhawks PR department is just too damn good at their job. I am powerless.

    • The Blackhawks PR department could sell me anything. Every political party in the world should try to hire them.

    • Pants Reply

      The Stars hardly need a PR team. Tyler & Jamie are doing all the work for them! The Blackhawks will take over the world someday and we’ll all think it was our idea.

      • Kate Reply

        The Stars all seem like they’re all just really great friends who have fun and chirp each other but also care about each other, and that’s kind of irresistible to watch. I mean, Jason Demers joins the team and is immediately welcomed into this little family of players. I don’t know if that’s their PR department or if it just naturally happened, but it’s so fun to watch.

        Also, I love Julie Dobbs, the Stars Insider reporter, and I’m so happy to see her recovering and back doing such good work.

        I just have a lot of Stars feels.

      • I actually had to talk myself out of picking up the Stars as a 4th team after that Dude Perfect video because I’m having a hard enough time juggling 3 teams! Those boys don’t need a PR team!

  6. Abbey Reply

    I like multiple teams, but they are all in a hierarchy. my one and two teams are (Boston and Chicago, respectively) which was fine until 2013. My friend who got me into the Hawks is literally not allowed to talk about that season. at all. i like the Islanders (3) for reasons which this blog is totally at fault.I have also started liking the Rangers (4) thanks to my stepdad, who grew up in Jersey when the Devils did not exist. I never really realized how intense that rivalry is until I got more into the teams. And then I started to like the Stars (5) when they acquired Segs.

    • Pants Reply

      Blame accepted for #3! As John Tavares’ publicist, I will do anything to make the world realize he is perfect.

  7. Lauren Reply

    This is perfect! I’ve been a 2 team fan for YEARS!!! People always say I’m crazy for supporting divisional rivals (they weren’t always in the same division.) The Blackhawks are my Sketchers, The Avs are my Prada backpack. I’ve always been an Avalanche (Nordiques) fan. I moved to the midwest about 10 years ago and started watching the ‘hawks since they were the local team. I was very conflicted in 2013 when the Avs broke the Blackhawks’ 24 game winning streak. My love for the Avs won out in the end.
    Thanks for this, Pants. You get it. You really do.

    • Pants Reply

      I had an Avs phase, hence my #LOBSTER love for Alex Tanguay. When I first moved to the West Coast. I needed a Western team for the first time ever, and the AMP line was just so exciting. Plus, they won a Cup that year. I followed them pretty closely until the lockout, then moved back east and got away from it. But I have a soft spot (about as big as Tanguay’s bald spot) for the Avs.

  8. Tracey Reply

    Really interesting post, Pants–I am a one-team fan, Pittsburgh, and although I don’t have the angst you’ll have when your teams play tonight, I do often get the “why not support the team that is geographically closest to you” question. Then I remind those people that in that case, it would have to be the Maple Leafs, and the discussion typically ends with an understanding nod.

    My one-team approach may be due to the fact that my husband and kids each have their own fave, so we are a four-team household. The alliances, rivalries, and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type-stuff that takes place as a result ends up not unlike a Game of Thrones-type thing, except without the creepy-weird relationships, and killings, and such.

    Nearly game time-I’ll be hiding under a piece of furniture, clutching a wine bottle, and reading your tweets. The Pens have to win tonight. They just HAVE to.

    • Pants Reply

      We have all suffered through a time when our team got the “understanding nod.” I feel you. As for multiple teams living together in not-so-much harmony, you’ve seen Pants vs. Chuck around here, and I’m sure we’ll see it again soon!

  9. Fatema Reply

    Favourite teams: 1. Montreal. Always #GoHabsGo
    2.Chicago (favourite American team)
    Loathed teams (not in order)
    2.Isles (but I LOVE JT)
    3.Caps (but I like Ovi)
    4.Toronto (don’t care)
    I’m pretty sure I’m the only Habs fan residing in Toronto and there has been chirps and arguments but I’m adamant for my loyalty. I always think of ranking my favourite teams as a draft.

    • Pants Reply

      JT for the win! I don’t like Ovi, which I didn’t even mention in my Caps missive above, but there is definitely a school of thought for supporting a team without loving (or liking) every player – even superstars. I like when he scores goals, of course, and helps them win (when I want them to win, that is). But overall? Nope.

  10. Lori Steinbach Reply

    I am in the same boat. When we lost the North Stars in Minnesota, I needed a new team. Having watched Detroit because of their Russian Five in the 90’s and being Intrigued by that (I was studying Russian History at the time) I easily picked the Red Wings. Michigan is close to Minnesota too, so that is a plus. When Minnesota got our new team, all my friends and family gave me grief, telling me I had to like and root only for the Wild. I told them no. I am Detroit #1, Minnesota #2 and that is how it will stay. I rock my Wings gear when they come to town and rock my Wild gear at all other games. I still get the occasional band wagon fan comment or Detroit sucks (that is a favorite one of other hockey fans) I just let it go.

    • Pants Reply

      Oh the North Stars! What a glorious time that was. Losing a team is so hard, then getting a new team is just crazy good fortune, but you can’t be changing your loyalties every time a new boy walks by or none of us would get married.

  11. I have this problem where I always have to have three teams that I follow kind of regularly. It happened in baseball (which is where I’ve spent most of my sports fan life, 2nd is AHL hockey because my hometown has a team, NHL has only taken up about three years of my life) and sadly it has followed me to the NHL.

    I’m kind of the opposite of you on rule three though. While I root for the Blackhawks to beat basically anyone on any given day, when they play the Stars or the Oilers I sometimes want the other team to win if they need it more. Now, my feelings on this are shifting right now because of the devastation that is Patrick Kane out for three months, but last season when the Stars were scratching and clawing and the Blackhawks were sitting pretty, I wore a Stars shirt under a Blackhawks hoodie to a game at the UC and silently rooted for the Stars the whole time. SOMETIMES THE UNDERDOGS NEED POINTS MORE OKAY

    Anyway. I’m glad that there are so many people that love multiple teams, because if one more person questions my love for any of my three teams I might have to get feisty like Tom Wilson all over them. And not in a sexy way, though he’s totally capable of that.

  12. Allison Reply

    THANK YOU! I hate being questioned about liking multiple teams.
    People never understand why I like Chicago because I’m not even from there, but it started off as an appreciation of individual player talent and then grew into a love for the team as a unit and let’s be real… the BHTV videos would win anyone over. I was born and raised a Buffalo fan, but I’ve gotten into Dallas in the last couple years as well since I have a friend that lives in the area and we go to games when I visit. I’ll root for pretty much any team as long as it isn’t Philly (sorry not sorry Flyers fans).
    Thankfully my poor split emotions don’t really have to worry about loyalties during play off season since only Chicago usually ever makes it.

  13. Two days late to this party (Thank GOD the Pens pulled that one out!!), but it’s timely because my mom had a discussion on Facebook yesterday with one particular jagoff who didn’t understand the #TwoOfHearts phenomenon. Obviously, I sent her the link to this post & told her to post it & tag him so he can see for himself that LOTS of people have love for multiple teams!

    As for me & my house, we are Pens fans first, last, & ALWAYS. I was an Undergrad at Pitt when they won back-to-back Lord Stanleys & I even got to see Mario & Jagr play at the Igloo (Civic Arena) once. The first time I visited the Burgh, I lost my heart and have never gotten it back. To be clear, I don’t even WANT it back – Pittsburgh is amazing! “Whatever it takes, We walk Together,” is one of the team’s unofficial mottoes and that’s how I look at my fandom of all things Penguins.

    The clear Number 2 in our house is the Blackhawks. Because of WUYS & BHTV. And Captain Serious/Not-So-Serious/Perfect. Nuff said.

    Beyond that, since we have Center Ice, we watch A LOT of hockey & catch a lot more Western Conference games since they don’t often conflict with Pens games. One of my favorite non-Pens is Kopitar. We root for Ben Lovejoy because he used to be a Penguin & are glad to see him playing regularly & doing well. I am ALWAYS begging Chris Higgins to pull up his jersey & show me those glorious abs (Thanks, WUYS!), although I’m not a fan of the Nucks.

    One thing that is 100% clear, though, is that the Hockey FAMILY is one of the greatest things on earth!!!

  14. Lynn Reply

    Yes, I have two favourite teams – the Leafs and the Pens. The Leafs because I have been a life long fan and it’s kinda like a marriage even though it sucks at times and it’s a struggle with all ups and downs, especially with this team, but you still believe, you still stick with the Leafs. Although they are having a dismal year (or years) they will always be my team but since 2008 the Pens have been closing the gap. When the Leafs and Pens face each other I hope for a tie so at least each team gets a point. However, when they do play each other I find myself cheering more so for the Pens than Leafs. So does that make me more of a Pens fan? But I get more angry when the Leafs lose. Weird. When it comes to the playoffs I tend to cheer for the Canadian teams (except Ottawa). I never really hated the Habs like some Leaf fans do, I respected them and loved the rivalry. Will always hate the Flyers and Senators. haha

  15. Heather Reply

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, but have never responded before. So I hope it is ok to add my take.
    I actually have five teams, which can get kind of awkward. My number one team is the Sharks, they are my closest team geographically (and yet still 5 hours away) and also really good at breaking my heart. Number two is the Rangers – I can’t help but rooting for Marc Staal, Number three Hurricanes – can’t leave the other Staals out. Number four – Blackhawks – how can you not root for Kane and Toews, and number five – Brooks Laich’s blue eyes (er I mean Capitals). Sorry, what can I say, I’m kind of shallow. 🙂

  16. wildpenguinsgirl Reply

    I know this is an older post, but I just found it and I love it.
    As you can see from my username, I’m a 2-team girl. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    The Wild are my #1 team, the ones I cry about when they get eliminated from the playoffs. When I watch games (online), they’re generally who I pick. Plus, the roster doesn’t drastically change very often (sometimes I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing), so I feel like I really “know” the Wild players who come back year after year.

    But at the same time, I really like the Pens as my #2. They’re fun to follow even though I don’t get as emotionally invested in how they’re doing.

    My excuse is that they’re in different conferences and never play each other more than a few times a year. Plus, having two teams just makes things more fun. 🙂