But let's be clear about this. Yes, I have hockey blogs on my reader now. Yes, I now have actual opinions about rule modifications. Yes, I watch hockey clips on YouTube and argue with the referees, even though a) they cannot hear me and b) obviously if they could they wouldn't care, since they are clearly watching a whole different game, what the fuck was that call even about, were you FACING THE FUCKING ICE AT THE TIME?
And, of course, I care about the players. Basically all of them. Way more than I should. Put it this way: When Sidney Crosby was cleared for contact, my inbox erupted with joy. It was seriously a great day for me. (He looked genuinely happy. That's - weird for him.) I know two people who cried.
Still, I don't actually know very much about hockey. (Although I know way, way more than I knew on January 1, 2012. I sometimes think we - at least those of us who are allergic to real resolutions - should go back and make retroactive resolutions. Like, so you happened to buy a lot of shoes in 2011? Your 2011 retroactive resolution was clearly "mix up my shoe wardrobe more." My point is, if 2012 keeps on the way it has been, my resolution will turn out to have been "learn more about sports, ideally ones that involve a lot of hugging.") So when I say fandom I have loved, I really am talking about the fandom. My approach to RPF appears to amount to "ignore reality if that makes it more fun," so this is not the place to go for actual hockey facts.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for fandom facts, I am here for you. And let's start with reasons to read the rest of this FIHL.
(Note: I am indebted to basically everyone who already knew things about hockey. Everything I'm saying here, someone taught me in the past, like, three months. Thank you, hockey persons!)
Hockey: Five Reasons to Love It (Even If You Don't Like Sports)
- Numbers. If you generally have a hard time telling people apart, even if one of them has, like, a giant facial scar, and also the other one has three noses, fear not! In hockey, they wear helmets (and mouthguards and sometimes visors and also so much padding you could make fourteen quilts out of one of them, and yet they still get hurt all the time, which tells you something about the basic insanity of skating up to mach 2 and then slamming into a guy wearing knives strapped to his feet and carrying a big stick), so no one can tell anyone apart. Which is why during games they have their names on their backs and numbers everywhere. You just need to memorize the numbers you are specifically interested in and you're golden. Since I can't ever tell anyone from anyone else, I love this so much I sometimes wish everyone would adopt it, and then I realize that that is a key plot element of like 87 dystopian YA novels, and I get over myself.
- You Can Play. This is an anti-homophobia campaign run by hockey people and featuring big-name hockey players. (Including Duncan Keith, who you'll be hearing about later! And Henrik Lundqvist, known in my household for provoking the latest round of, "No, trust me, everyone but you thinks he's attractive." Best Beloved has no patience with me sometimes. I'm sorry! He has very nice hair, okay? It's - glossy?) Yes, "You can play sports even if you're gay!" is not something that should have to be said, but it definitely needs saying anyway, and these guys are saying it. It's worth watching a game or two just to support them.
- Hockey Hugs. (I've linked to one of my favorites - the mid-game proposal! - because I can't find a way to link to all the Hockey Hugs entries. The Puck Daddies need to work on their fucking tags system, or else maybe I need to work on my brain system. Whichever.) Even the professional journalists slash the fuck out of hockey dudes, is my point, and also they are pretty amusing while doing it. Plus. I mean. Any sport that features a lot of enthusiastic hugging is better than any sport that doesn't, and that is just fact. ETA: Since Puck Daddy would apparently prefer for us to use third-party systems, here is a link to all the Hockey Hugs I could find, tagged on my Pinboard.
- The Horror. By which I mean the terrible, terrible things players do to their hair, their faces, and their clothes in the name of either charity or - you know, I actually don't know why they look how they look most of the time. This is a sport where people wear suits to talk to the media directly after games, sometimes even nice suits, and yet for reasons that still aren't clear to me no one has ever held Patrick Kane down and forced him to get a decent haircut. And this is also a sport where the guys grow deeply horrible mustaches for Movember, and there is a tradition that the team whose players do the best Grizzly Adams cosplay in the postseason get to hug a big silver cup. (Seriously. This is a thing. Playoff beards. Look it up, but don't look at images if you're of a sensitive disposition. Or eating.) I love that it's possible to spend like half the season recoiling from the appearance of your team, even if you are lucky enough to have a relatively attractive bunch of guys on there.
- Goalie Masks. These things are twisted, and you know how I respect that. Goalies get to customize their masks, which I suspect is one of those bones they threw them because otherwise no one would be willing to take that fuck-awful job (if you're the goalie, you can make 30 saves and still get booed for the one you miss, and also you wear so much protective equipment that if you want to hug a teammate you risk suffocating him; goalie fights are like two men attempting to dance with beach balls glued all over their bodies). But the thing is, well. If you weren't a very odd person before you became an NHL goalie, you would be after a few seasons of it, and it shows. Some of those goalie masks look like creations serial killers would make out of their victims (looking at you, Carey Price). Some look like the ultimate nerdgasm (Kari Lehtonen! Peter Budaj!). I love that every goalie's psyche is right out there on display. (And, in the case of the one that looks like brains: way to take that literally.) Gives you something to analyze during breaks in the action.
Hockey: The Game
If you actually want to know about - you know, stuff - then you should definitely go read someone else's primer. Useful! Interesting! Funny! Will permit you to explain icing and offsides to people who don't know about hockey!
But here is what I want you to know about hockey. So, this is a thing that dudes (and also ladies, but the ladies cannot play professionally, sadly), largely dudes from colder places (Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the colder parts of the US, Hoth, etc.), get very into. So into, in fact, that they often leave home at 14 and enter a kind of hothouse (...icehouse?) world of dudeship and hugging and intense manly warrior bonds. They spend eight months a year away from their families, bonding with other dudes. Then they do it professionally. Then they go through a four-day-long dick-measuring competition, and after that they get drafted by a team, and then they're really doing it professionally. They play more than eighty games in a standard season, and obviously many of those are on the road, and this does not include playoffs.
This schedule leaves them no time to develop social skills or normal relationships with human beings or, in certain cases, personalities. (It also leaves them with no time to develop an adult sense of style. They generally seem to keep dressing exactly the way they did when they were 14, and if you look around your average middle school or high school, you will get a sense of why that is a bad idea. If I got to enact a rule in hockey tomorrow - okay, I'd make every single head contact illegal. For real. But if I got to make a second one, it would involve gel rationing.) Basically, everything you did after you turned 14, these guys missed because they had a game.
And that game involves forming close bonds with teammates, and caring intensely and emotionally about them, and also hugging a lot. And sharing rooms. And showers. (And also going into the bathroom together for no good reason, and staying in there long enough for their teammates to steal their stuff.) And living together. And crying or just moping forever when they get moved away from their favorite players. And wrestling each other partly naked.
There is nothing homoerotic about any of this. Nothing at all, and anyone who tells you otherwise is - um, probably facing the ice.
Hockey: The Canon
Now, here's the thing. The games themselves are a very small part of the canon that RPF writers draw on. Apparently part of the NHL's strategy to Keep Hockey Relevant (or make it relevant, depending on where you live) is to ensure that the players all spend a lot of time in front of cameras looking uncomfortable, unnatural, or just weird. (Look. Remember how I said most of these dudes have no social skills to speak of? I get that! I don't have any, either. But no one is ever going to put me in front of a camera and tell me to look approachable, for very good reasons, and no one should be doing it to most of these guys, either. Realistically, each team should have, in addition to a captain and alternate captains, a media captain - the guy on each team who actually manages to be convincingly human even when a camera is pointed at him. Or, you know, the guy who comes closest.) Then this material is edited, generally by people who appear to make it their priority to keep the players open to mockery from all sides, and posted to the internet.
Also available on the internet: interviews, commercials, clips of players hitting each other, pictures of players hugging each other, statistics, all kinds of good stuff. And that is the canon. If Brent Seabrook gets trapped in front of the camera long enough to mention that Duncan Keith occasionally refers to him as the Burrito, that's going to show up in stories. (For the record: To the best of my knowledge, Keith does not actually call Seabrook "the Burrito." He calls him "honey," and also "snugglekins.")
So, as I introduce you to the pairings, I will be offering you links that enhance the experience. It's a multimedia FIHL! Sort of.
But there are some things that don't neatly slot into any given pairing that you should still see. Things that will prepare you for the complete hockey experience. I want to give you just a taste of the glory that is out there.
the Blackhawks 2011 Christmas Video. Let's start with a video that you should definitely watch first, both because it has everything you look for in hockey videos and because after you've seen this, there's nowhere to go but up. This video has: Hockey players looking like absolute idiots. A serious failure to take into account their actual abilities. Unfortunate clothing. A dance that will haunt your dreams. Terrible in-jokes. Terrible jokes, period. Plus, this video is probably the only time you'll ever see Jonathan Toews smile when not in the presence of the Stanley Cup. (I figure they started out with "So you'll sing and dance!" and he negotiated them down to "Smile like the creepiest creepster ever.") (And this is just the worst Christmas-related hockey video, mind you. There are photos of a hockey dude wearing a sweater depicting Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer getting Eiffel towered. Hockey's motto is "Pure class all the way.") Here, you can meet most of the team, and also rest comfortably assured that no matter how ridiculous things get in the future, you've already witnessed the absolute nadir of sense and reason. Also, you will discover that either there's a secret musical aptitude test in the Combine, or the Blackhawks just got lucky in terms of scoring a completely tone-deaf roster.
NHL Players as Kids Tumblr. I admit I like this one largely because it's much easier for me to parse facial expressions - or, you know, faces - on extremely tiny people, but, also, this gives you a picture of what these guys' lives were like when they were little. (Note, for example, that Jonathan Toews appears to have done normal kid things. Swimming! Horseback riding! Trick-or-treating! Now compare him to Sidney Crosby, and in particular the photo of Crosby with a bottle and hockey gear. Sidney Crosby was practicing his slapshots in the WOMB.)
Hockey Players with Pets Tumblr. Is there a thing that is better than a picture of someone - anyone - with a dog? No. And to prove it, let me point you to this photo of Jonathan Toews petting a puppy like the serious business it truly is. (While Patrick Kane stares obliviously at the camera, visibly thinking he is way better than a puppy. Sorry, Kaner.) (And can someone find me the Hockey Players with Babies Tumblr? It has to be there!)
Hockey: The Pairings
And here's where we get down to it. There are, like, about 18,000 pairings in hockey, way more than there are actual stories. I'm just going to focus on a) the more popular ones and b) my favorites. (Again, if you want unbiased material, or actual reliable facts, go elsewhere. I am not to be trusted.)
The Young Angsters: Patrick (Kaner) Kane/Jonathan (Tazer) Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
These are the guys who should totally fuck each other because a) clearly they belong together, given that even their mothers refer to them as married and b) it would spare the rest of Chicago so much pain.
Patrick Kane is the Dorkiest Dudebro (with a fondness for the Twilight series that many bros would not admit to, although in fairness it was his mother who outed him as a Twihard). Jonathan Toews stores his feelings in a box under his bed and last smiled in a previous incarnation. (For real. Like I said, I have seen baby pictures. You know how babies are typically happy little people? Jonathan Toews, even as an infant, generally fixed the camera with a stare indicating that he was sincerely disappointed in the whole entire universe for failing to live up to his entirely reasonable standards.) Also, Toews is so competitive that - okay. I am pretty sure every single time Charlie Sheen tweeted about winning, Toews knew he was really just crazy, but he still couldn't stop himself from snapping, "You fucking AREN'T, you motherfucker, I AM" at his phone.
Tazer and Kaner are good at hockey and not much else, but they love each other and spend a lot of time together and are actually ador(k)able when they're together. When they're apart, Kaner tends to drink a lot and take his pants off in front of people with the desire to take photos and share them with the internet. (I love me some Kaner, but a lot of times it seems like no one is driving the bus with him, if you get my drift.) God only knows what Tazer does. Probably he posts to hockey forums under pseudonyms that get banned for being too argumentative. Or maybe he just sits in his living room in the dark, staring judgmentally at the wall. (I do hear he used to have fun, but these days that appears to happen mostly in proximity to Kaner.) You see why these people should stay together at all times? Kaner got all the fun, Tazer got however much sense you can have and still be a professional hockey player. Only together can they keep the universe from spiraling out of balance! And also only together can they even remotely approximate normal humans.
But, since they are so bad at life, there's always the sort of lurking fear that they haven't realized any of this. This is where the angst comes in. This is a pairing it's really easy to believe hasn't figured out the love thing, largely because Kaner is easily distracted and Tazer generally tries to avoid opening that box under his bed.
The Puck Daddy NHL Valentines. Scroll down to the Tazer/Kaner one. It sums up the entire relationship in, you know, candy hearts.
Toews Checks Kid. Remember how I said he was the most competitive person in the world? He can't stop himself from checking a little kid. Face first onto the ice for you, child, and Toews wins again! This is the best thing ever, and it's super-short, and you should watch it.
Kane/Toews Primer. For allllll the details I couldn't include here because you wouldn't have believed me anyway.
The Established Relationship: Duncan (Duncs) Keith/Brent (Seabs) Seabrook (Chicago Blackhawks)
These guys play defense like they're reading each other's minds. They used to live together. Then they bought houses near each other. Then they bought vacation houses near each other. They room together on the road and spend basically every single minute of the trip welded to each other. (Their coach has actually said that whether or not they live together, they live together.) It's like they wilt if they spend too much time apart, and also, their definition of "too much time" appears to be measured in hours.
Keith is the hockey player version of a quiet guy. He doesn't say much; he just sits there with a general demeanor that suggests he is maybe thinking about exactly what he could get for your bones on the black market. He also doesn't usually fight on the ice. Unless of course Seabrook gets hit, in which case he turns into a one-man Rage Machine. (No, seriously, Seabrook got hurt in a playoff game, and Keith hung his jersey in his locker and went on a scoring tear. And one time Seabrook got hit - it was an awful hit, and you really don't want to see it - and Keith, who doesn't fight, was on that guy because no one fucks with his Seabsie boy. And, yes, he really does call him "my Seabsie boy" in an interview I have for real actually seen.)
Seabrook is chattier and friendlier and generally more cheerful-looking. Also taller. And fightier. And, for reasons that probably make perfect sense if you play hockey, he has the teeth that Keith lost in a game (all the front ones; Keith took a puck to the mouth). Because of course he does.
Basically, with these guys, first times are kind of a tough sell in most cases, since they appear to have soulbonded during their rookie year, and are well on their way to being that couple that always says the same thing at the same time in the same intonation with the same hand gestures, until even though you know they don't look the same, you find yourself sometimes calling one by the other's name.
"They get on each other sometimes, like a husband and wife do." Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook Primer. There's so much more to these guys, and all of it basically screams married married married and also MARRIED.
The Pairing That Is Figuring It Out With Diagrams And A Lot of Video Review: Sidney Crosby/Evgeni (Geno) Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
These guys are awesome forwards - seriously, I could link you to goals they've scored that make you want to weep for joy. Geno is from Russia. Sidney is from Mars.
Keep in mind that I say all this with sincere love; Sidney is my favorite player by a landslide, in terms of personality and so on. Sidney Crosby is - you know how I said most hockey guys stop developing at the age 14 in everything but hockey? The same can be said of him, except his development stopped way earlier. When he's playing hockey (or, in certain circumstances, anticipating or thinking about playing hockey), he looks happy and normal, if sort of dorky; the rest of the time he looks like he's being remotely controlled. From outer space. By a robot with some clearly-defined parameters. He's an intelligent, hugely competitive guy, and a fantastic player who clearly wishes he could fastforward through all the non-hockey parts of life. (Which is heartbreaking, because he spent basically all of 2011 out of play. Oh god SID.) Sid is also incapable of doing things the normal way. (Like - he's a multimillionaire. And he's 24. And he lives with Mario Lemieux, who owns the Penguins. I mean, they keep saying he's moved out, but he keeps finding reasons to go back, so, yes, he basically lives there. Generally players live in their own homes at his age.)
Geno (my second favorite player!), on the other hand, actually seems to be - like, a functional human. It's weird. He's really good at hockey and yet doesn't spend huge chunks of time failing at life or looking like his internal memory just got wiped. Yeah, he looks like a total dork most of the time, but this is hockey, and it's not like being Russian gets you extra time away from the ice or anything. (And he's a really adorable dork, which is a total bonus.) And Sid looks happy around him. And Geno looks happy around Sid. Geno genuinely seems to like Sid, even, defends him in interviews and gets him talking like a normal human in front of cameras. They act like friends, and Sid does not seem to have many actual friends. And they spend a lot of time together. (And go to Lady Gaga concerts together, which. Um.) And - there you go.
As far as I can tell, this is a pairing born, on Sid's side, from people desperately wanting him to have a nice thing, and Geno being, you know: nice. On Geno's side, I think it comes from him actually really liking Sid, and also from a sort of vague belief that if you're going to be good friends with a guy who probably has to be rehearsed for three days to go to a movie, you deserve a blowjob out of it. No, seriously, it's an awesome pairing and I love it.
I have already made my feelings about Crosby's Reebok commercial perfectly clear, but if for some reason you prefer kink to bleakness, may I suggest Crosby's recent Gatorade commercial? Seriously, there's like about eight kinds of kink in thirty seconds on the top half of the screen. It's the fastest Kink Bingo ever! Anyway, the point is: This is how you make a good commercial featuring Sidney Crosby. You emphasize his amazing hockey-playing intensity and ignore everything else, largely because he does not have an everything else.
Boys Who Like Boys (Who Are Probably Robots). A Sid/Geno primer that is basically responsible for me finishing this post this year.
The Hatesex Pairing: Ryan Kesler/Andrew Ladd (Vancouver Canucks/Winnipeg Jets)
I admit it, I mostly love this pairing because Ryan Kesler is the prime hockey photobomber, wandering into other people's interviews partly naked or eating pizza or whatever. (It's called Keslurking. There is a vid for it. It is really damn funny.)
Anyway, so a while back Andrew Ladd and Ryan Kesler couldn't be in the same arena without attempting to beat the snot out of each other. So hatesex the end.
The Ballad of Andrew Ladd and Ryan Kesler. This primer doesn't include the naked Kesler photo, which I cannot see without cracking up (and, I admit, sometimes yelling, "I AM MIGHTY ZEUS, GOD OF NOT HAVING ANY PANTS ON"). It never fails to cheer me up. So you should look at the primer (and watch all the videos!), but then also make sure to check out Ryan Kesler's birthmarks.
The Age Difference Pairing: Jeff Skinner/Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes)
Jeff Skinner is a nineteen-year-old professional hockey player (those of you (like me!) who are old and would like to take a moment to remember that fact: he was born in 1992) with a big, beaming smile. His smile is basically like 30% of his total body size anytime he's happy. (And anytime he's really pissed off, he is like throwing a tantrum on the ice, because he is definitely a teenager.)
Eric Staal is the oldest of the Staal Clone Army (in addition to Eric, there's Marc, who plays for the NY Rangers, Jordan, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Jared, who plays for the Hurricanes' minor league farm team) and the captain of the Hurricanes. He's really obsessed with Jeff Skinner's smile. He seems, like, just a triiiiifle overinvested in Skinner, and also drafted him in an All-Star Game because it'd be weird not having him right there. I am sure you can see where this is heading. And, yep, that's where it goes. SLASH TIMES, baby.
Eric Staal/Jeff Skinner. This comment, plus subsequent comments, provide the most thorough grounding possible in the Skinner/Staal love. It's all there!
ETA: Jeff Skinner picspam. Some people call him the Hockey Bieber. Find out why.
The Separated by Cruel Fate Pairing: Jeff Carter/Mike Richards (LA Kings)
Once upon a time, there were these two total bros who were kind of also dicks. And they were living in up in Philadelphia, playing for the Flyers, getting drunk and horsing around and fucking ladies in the same bed while staring into each other's eyes (not proven but I seriously would not believe you if you told me it was untrue). They were great together. They loved each other. And they decided to commit. To their team. They signed no-movement-clause contracts and prepared to live happily ever after.
And then they got traded. Richards went to the Kings. Carter went to the Columbus Blue Jackets, except he didn't actually go; he went to the shore and sulked until the Blue Jackets sent their captain, their coach, and their GM to his house to drag him back to Columbus. And when they got him there, he spent a season sulking and miserable and wretchedly alone. He didn't really do anything except talk on the phone to Richards and watch his games and, I am guessing, cry. The Blue Jackets probably counted themselves lucky on days when he could bring himself to shower. Basically, he pined so hard he lost the ability to play hockey.
And then, just before the trade deadline this year, the Blue Jackets traded him to Los Angeles Kings. I guess he was bringing the entire locker room down with his moping and they figured it was either send him off to be with Richards or shoot him, and shooting players is kind of a last-ditch solution in the NHL. In response, Richards posted the most awesome tweet in the history of tweets, which you can see in a screencap in the primer I'm going to link you to, but I still have to quote it, because it is so great that if Twitter had produced only this, it would still be worthwhile. (Slightly edited because hockey guys are not exactly sticklers with their grammar and punctuation and it gives me pain.)
"Reunited and it feels so good... Excited to be back playing with Carts. #needaroommate"
And they lived happily ever after the end. Best story or BEST STORY EVER?
The Not-So-Tragic Tale of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, by riadsala. The primer! All you need to know! Go read it. Let me repeat: BEST STORY EVER.
Hockey: The Fanworks
This is a small fandom, but the good news is that you can read basically every story in it at the AO3. I mean, yes, some of the stories suck. But the hit to miss ratio is better here than in a lot of small fandoms (and also these writers are dedicated to running down the entire Popular Fandom Trope playlist, which I salute so damn hard I risk concussion), and there are some gems out there. I'm going to list a few of them right here. As, like, the free sample. Don't say I didn't warn you when you're up at three in the morning, desperately refreshing the Penguins roster to find out who is playing that day. You think it can't happen to you, but it can.
And I'm going to focus mostly on (somewhat) shorter stories (plus a vid, which is super-exciting, both because it is awesome and because there just aren't that many hockey vids), since these days longer stories tend to win out in my regular recs posts.
Bright Lights and Bruises, by opheliarising. Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, gen.
I love OpheliaRising's hockey RPF because it has a certain cold, clear feel to it that works astonishingly well. (If you like this, check out her Winter Closing In, which is about Eric Lindros, the Sidney Crosby of the last generation.) This story is about Sidney Crosby, growing up as the Chosen One, and it's lovely. It also serves as a nice introduction to Alexander Ovechkin, who is basically the anti-Crosby. He has so much personality it keeps leaking all over the place, causing him to wear horrible clothes and act like a rock star and so on. But Ovechkin is close to Crosby's age, and he's the captain of the Washington Capitols, and he has similar cachet in terms of skill and such. (And, yes, he's having an awful season, but at least he's playing.)
Never Hard to Find, by missmollyetc. Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin.
This one is the funny version of Sid and Geno's semi-functional love affair, and it also features tragic damage to a ficus. I have a long-standing hatred of ficuses, so there you go. No, really, this is one of the first stories I read in hockey RPF, and it totally cemented my love for Sid. (What cemented my love for Geno was seeing him play. Holy fuck.) Giggles! Sid! Geno! I don't know what else you could want from a story, and the proof is that I have read this 11,000 times.
Club Can't Handle Kaner, by way2busymom. Vid. Patrick Kane, Your Personal Dudebro. Gen.
I watched this one back when I was lucky I knew Patrick Kane's first and last names. I blame way2busymom for much of what followed, including the lost weekend I spent with my tongue down CapGeek.com's throat. The really sad part is - when I first watched this, whenever hockey came on, I was all, "Oh hey he's - skating!" And now I can name most of the games she took clips from. And I don't even follow the Blackhawks. Something is wrong with me, is my point, and I can't promise it won't be wrong with you, too, if you watch this. But watch it anyway. It is the essence of Patrick Kane, from his horrible hair to his dorky grin to that mouthpiece that is so clearly sublimation of his total fixation on Jonathan Toews's cock.
Three Things Patrick Kane Is No Longer Allowed To Do On A Road Trip (Even If It Helps The Team Win), by antumbral. Gen.
This is kind of the companion to Club Can't Handle Kaner. I firmly believe that with this, that vid, and a primer or two, you can learn everything you need to know about Patrick Kane, including the fact that he's sort of insane but hockey would be a hell of a lot more fun if everyone approached it like he did. (Part of the reason Kane is so fun, I suspect, is that he's not Canadian. The Canadian hockey system does a special operation on the best prospects when they're fourteen. I haven't been able to discover exactly what it is that they do, but after that, the guys remain perfectly, blandly in character when they are in the presence of the media, hockey fans, hockey officials, or cameras. And the character is Nobel but Boring Canadian Hockey Player.)
Play Along, by shihadchick. Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook.
So, remember how I said first times don't entirely work with these guys? Well, sometimes they do, and this is one of those times. This is a classic trope. A bet! Fake dating! One guy takes it more seriously than the other guy! Awesomeness ensues. I can't think what else you'd need to know to read this story.
And, as a bonus, there is Patrick Sharp, who is Too Married to Slash, but whose reputation as the team prankster makes him the obvious choice for inclusion in these stories. (I have to wonder about the team prankster rep, since the footage I've seen included him taking Tazer's bag, putting some extra stuff in it, and giving it back, and ordering Tazer and Kaner a lot of food for breakfast. Ha ha! You are surely the merriest of pranksters, hockey lads! But I hear he totally almost made Tazer faint once, and that has to count for something. Also, his was the camera that documented that hockey dudes don't like wearing shirts much on the road, and that really does count for something.)
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.