Five Things to Know Before Starting a Men’s League Team

You’ve just finished playing college or high school and now it’s time to graduate to the hockey league you’ll be playing in for the rest of your life – or for as long as your knees and shoulders will allow. That’s right, it’s time for men’s league. Some call it beer league. You can call it whatever you want – this is very likely the hockey league that you will be playing in longer than any other era of your life. So settle in and get comfortable.

There’s a lot of young guys out there full of piss and vinegar whose idea of men’s league is absolute nirvana. You still get to play, um, competitive hockey and there’s no coach to yell or run you ragged because there’s no practice! You get to drink beer in the dressing room AND your parents aren’t there anymore to watch you. NOBODY is there to watch you, in fact. It’s total freedom from some of the things you didn’t like about hockey and an enhanced version of what you DO love about it.

With that said, many new players of men’s leagues fall into the trap of running a team. Oh, the young people….how naive! As you navigate through all the nuances of running a men’s league team, let us older guys here at Pure Hockey provide you with some wisdom that comes with age. Listen up, ok? I know you don’t believe that you’re going to get slow and old, but trust us, you will. And we know you think you’ll run a team forever, but trust us, you won’t. Here’s five things to know before starting a men’s league team. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

1. Everyone Will Tell You They’re In, But They Are Not

"I'm IN!"   "Me too!"    "It's gonna be SO rad!"
“I’m IN!” “Me too!” “It’s gonna be SO rad!”

This is very much like the new girlfriend phase. You and 18 of your buddies are totally stoked to play men’s league. The idea is usually hatched after 11pm somewhere in a local watering hole and you will ALL lift your mugs and Natty Light cans and toast your new team. You will come up with genius and hilarious secret team names that nobody else will know the story behind except for your own team. This is the exact time in the process where one person lays claim to #69 on their jersey. Everybody, even your buddies who DON’T play hockey, will verbally commit. Trust us, many verbal commitments will happen. Everyone is in! They are not.

2. You Will Never Have Enough People. Never.

Get Used to Seeing This During Your Games
Get Used to Seeing This During Your Games

OK, your 18 buddies who verbally committed to playing actually ends up being eight people. One of those is a person who has never skated before, but is really funny. He’ll be great in the locker room. That person will always play defense. Just expect this. But screw it, you say, you know you can play with eight and you also know that it will be SO easy to pick up a couple of more players. It won’t be. So you make your first grave mistake – you enter the team into the league. Your first game you have six players. The rest bagged on you three hours before game time. So two hours before game time you frantically call all the friends, relatives, roommates and even older uncles and fathers of everyone you have ever known who played hockey. You post to any and all local message boards that you can find. This is not a one-time thing. This will happen EVERY WEEK.

3. Nobody Will Pay You

You need to believe us. This is not happening.

This is a given. You will be very clear a few weeks before the season starts that you need $250 from each player – upfront – before you put the team into the league. You get exactly zero dollars, but you still put the team into the league. In the first six weeks of the season, you get exactly zero dollars. This is the main reason why you have 8 players and you started with 18. Credit where credit is due, though – most of the guys who bagged out before committing were just the honest ones who knew they couldn’t afford it. The other guys don’t even remember committing because……well…..Natty Light. Now, when you ask your 8 teammates for money, you begin to hear some of the most creative and amazing stories of your entire life. One guy’s workplace has simply run out of checks. Another has suddenly turned into the most forgetful person on the face of the planet each week, even though you texted him an hour before each game to bring money and every time he said “no problem.” Another guy always gets paid “next Friday.” This is not a one-time thing. This will happen EVERY WEEK.

4. The IDEA of Your Uniforms is Amazing. The Actual Uniforms Will Totally Suck.

It will ALWAYS be the reality version. Trust us.
It will ALWAYS be the reality version. Trust us.

Another one of those topics that is hatched over beers.  You and your buds have visions of killer on-ice threads…..and it’s 100% unrealistic grandeur. Initially, the idea for the uniforms involve the old-school L.A. Kings purple and yellow jerseys with matching Reebok Pro Edge socks and a team set of matching Bauer 4-Roll gloves. You are completely stoked to be the best looking team in the league. That dream dies when the price quote you receive is $9,023.45. See #3 above. There is no in between. If you can’t look AMAZING, then you’re going 100% in the other direction. NO uniforms. It’s a miracle enough when someone pays you $45 for the actual league. Everyone ends up just wearing a light or dark color depending on what the other team is wearing. This ends up being a cat and mouse game in the dressing room as guys are borrowing other people’s jerseys, often without their knowledge. Your team looks horrendous. This is not a one-time thing. This will happen EVERY WEEK.

5.  The Same Team Will Win the League Every Year


No matter how good your team may be, it’s 108% likely that there’s one team out there who wins the title every season and wins every playoff game by 8 goals. You will know this team because they are sponsored by either a roofing company or a construction company. This is the same team that you played twice and crushed both times during the regular season that actually had less players than your squad. By some miracle, though, they show up for playoffs with four lines, two goalies and a coach for the playoffs. Two of their lines have never played a single game and somehow believe it’s a full contact league with NHL scouts in the stands. This is not a one-time thing. This will happen EVERY SEASON.

So there you have it. Still interested in starting a men’s league team? Go for it! Despite all these hurdles, it’s great fun. Because eventually you’ll get married, have kids, settle down…..and then you will totally be psyched to go play a game with one extra player on the bench. Trust us.

Need some men’s league gear? No problem. We have a TON of recently marked-down stuff that will last you for YEARS. You will need the extra money. Trust us.

gear up

17 Comments on Five Things to Know Before Starting a Men’s League Team

  1. Yeah this is spot on. As a men’s team captain getting money from players is like taking Golem’s “precious” or listening to every excuse in the book or eventually they stop showing up.

    Money issues have ruined many a good group of lads. That’s why the sponsored teams kill it. The sugar daddy player, usually the owner of the sponsoring business, looks the other way when an ex-NCAA Div 1 player can’t pay for his ice fees and spots him with his own cash.
    The things we do, as men to get some time away from the wife and kids, eh?

  2. And here’s a former referee’s perspective: 10 skaters out there. Eight know they have to be at work in the morning, two think it’s the 7th game of the cup finals. The ref’s most important job? Figuring out those 2 as early as possible

  3. Saturday nights in El Segundo!! LOL!! all of these things are true. I’m one of the older guys at 46. I now understand it’s not all about winning or losing. It’s all about having fun, playing a good solid game, and having some beer with the boys in the locker room at the end, and hoping no one gets hurt (we all have to go to work the next day to you idiots that seriously think it’s game 7 of the cup).

  4. One other thing…NEVER start a team with your friends. Start a rag-tag team of free agents? Everybody pays by the first game and understands that the team will suck for a while. Get a group of friends together? You end up shelling out $1000 just to be allowed to step on the ice for the second half of the season, because that’s what wasn’t paid. Everyone who joins has never skated on ice, but somehow thinks we will win the championship the first year, even though they didn’t pay. Eventually friendships are lost, no championship is ever won, and you quit playing hockey because of it. Yeah, my life story.

    • I ref adult hockey too and I get to see what teams are doing well in the league, playing together decent(passing the puck more than once) and when they have an open spot, I’ll ask the captain during the game if I can come play as a sub.
      It’s great for scouting what team I’d fit in on.

  5. Holy crap! How did you guys find our Beer League Photo under #5?!?!

    P.S. Yes that’s me the goalie attempting the David Hasselhoff

  6. add: refs are just there for the money and could care less if calls are correct, they just want to drop the puck and go home

  7. I started a whole f’ing LEAGUE that grew to 75 teams, and was stupid enough to be President (VAHA). I got so many calls for goalies each evening that my wife eventually left- s’truth. Of course, those were the best years, until the kids came.

  8. Don’t forget the penalty min leader of the league . Tapes his knuckles before the game. He is on parole for rape or robbery , anyways , u let him skate with lots of room , and stand in front of the net with no problems.

  9. a lot of this applies the same exact way to friday night pickup games. always the NCAA Div1 looking for extra ice time thinking it’s the Frozen Four, while half the line out there can barely keep their skates on the ice

  10. I guess I’ve just been lucky then. Started a team 3 seasons ago with a group of friends, everyone paid by the 4th game, paid $100 each for jerseys, won the championship 2 seasons in a row, and are undefeated so far this season (9-0). I do see how most of the stuff listed here can be true. Accurately represents most of the other teams in the league.

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