Hockey RPF

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Hockey RPF
Scope/Focus: Mostly NHL players
See also: List of Teams
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Hockey RPF is the Real Person Fiction fandom based around the celebrity personas of ice hockey players, mainly those in the National Hockey League (NHL).

The fandom has a strong emphasis on M/M shipping.[note 1]


Says paxpinnae of her introduction to Hockey RPF:

It's been an interesting trip, because this is the first time I've read a LOT in a fandom where I knew absolutely nothing. I have cousins who play hockey and a sort of vague hereditary obligation to cheer for the Flyers when prompted, but going into this I didn't even know how many periods were in a game. However! Hockey fandom has stepped in to fill the gap and taught me many things:
1. Sidney Crosby is a hockey-playing robot.
2. Patrick Kane is a horrible human being.
3. Jonathan Toews is a hockey-playing robot and a horrible human being.
4. No one pines like Geno Malkin.
5. Alexander Ovechkin is a puckish matchmaking spirit of whimsy.
6. Duncan Keith has no teeth whatsoever, because he gave them all to Brent Seabrook as a declaration of love.
7. Carey Price is a stoner cowboy.
8. PK Subban is a big dumb puppy.
9. Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere are married and have three adorable French-Canadian children. They just haven't realized they're married yet.
10. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews kinda know that they're married, but they keep fighting because the make-up sex is awesome.
11. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook know that they're married, and spend a lot of time worrying about other people's marriages.
12. Everyone in the NHL is funny-looking except for Patrick Sharp.
13. NHL players are the worst at pranks.
14. Somewhere in the NHL is an entire team composed of players named Staal.
15. No one in the NHL in the entire history of ever can ever talk about their feelings. Ever. [1]

Fandom Growth

See also: Hockey Fandom Influxes

Although hockey fanfiction is not a new phenomenon, in 2012, hockey fandom saw a large influx of new fans. BNFs such as Thefourthvine, a popular reccer, helped spread interest in the fandom. Hockey RPF also attracted fans from Bandom, which was between major albums at the time. Reportedly, some Bandom BNFs also happened to live in Chicago, home of the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013.[note 2][note 3] On the AO3, 326 hockey fics were posted in 2011; this increased to 1237 fics in 2012, and 2805 in 2013. (Conversely, in 2010 there had been only 43 fics posted; those dated 2009 or earlier are only 127 in total).

While new fans were filled with squee, some older fans were amused or annoyed by the n00bs joining their fandom, as discussed in this Fail Fandom Anon thread. Thefourthvine was criticized for contributing to the popularity of extremely inaccurate fanon characterizations, thus inspiring others to produce a lot of fic oldtimers didn't want to read. Meanwhile, many fans who love hockey as a game, even fans in fanfic fandom, disapprove of fans they see as only being interested in the slash potential. The FFA thread had defenders and detractors on both sides

It's easy to get invested in narratives, which are as common in sports journalism as they are in fandom.
I do think there's a fannish double standard going on here. It's super, super common for people to leap into fandoms wholeheartedly, feet first, and fall instantly in love. Why is this fandom such a special case that people doing this is hilarious?

In response, another poster wrote:

Because it's a bunch of stereotypical fangirls, usually of the nerdy "ew sports" kind, getting into a sports fandom.
Not a hockey fan, but it's sort of irritating to see a lot of the people who dropped me from their flist when I got into a sports fandom a few years ago (because sports, so antifeminist, so homophobic, etc.) getting into sports and sports RPF with both feet.

This discussion points to a potential separation within hockey fandom, between those who are invested in the game itself versus those who are interested in it primarily as a fanfiction-based experience. However, there are fans who love it both for the game and for the fic.


Since 2012, the fandom was mostly active on Livejournal, Tumblr, and Twitter, with fics posted to Livejournal communities and AO3 and are frequently member-locked on there.

During the lockout, a NHL labour dispute which lasted between mid-September 2012 and mid-January 2013 and during which no NHL games were played, puckling @dreamwidth; @tumblr ran a squee thread which helped keep the fandom going.[1]

The fandom has since moved primarily to Ao3, with a strong presence on Tumblr as well.


Popular fanfiction tropes include Pining, genderswap, AUs in which one or more players don't play hockey, and Animal Transformation.

Regarding some of the more fantastical scenarios, puckling wrote,

I love how we all handwave magical realism in hockey RPF by having a player go, “Oh, yeah, I knew this guy in Juniors…”

I always like to think that it’s the same guy.

"Hey Coach, Belc can’t come to practice today, he’s a kitten."

"Hey Coach, Belc is changing in the supply closet, he’s a girl right now."

"Hey Coach, Belc is seven again. His billet mom says he’ll be okay for tomorrow’s game though."[2]

See also That One Guy In Juniors Tumblr tag. There is now nothing under this Tumblr tag.

A thread on the role fighting plays in hockey RPF can be found here.

Deadspin is a sports website owned by Gawker that is often referenced in fanfic and is presented as "a terrible site that only follows hockey and is constantly prowling for the next big gay hockey scandal (or drunk Patrick Kane scandal)."[3] Deadspin is no longer relevant as of circa 2020.

On November 1st of 2018, Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews reached the same number of fics on AO3. A photo can be found here. In the later months following Sid/Geno fic surpassed Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews.

Major pairings following the Sid/Geno and Kane/Toews era include Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin, Trevor Konecny/Nolan Patrick, Mitch Marner/Auston Matthews, and Nicklas Backstrom/Alexander Ovechkin.

Key Teams, Players, & Pairings

Not all teams get the same amount of attention from fic writers. Popular teams with major or multiple pairings are the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks with more being added in the future. As is common with RPF of all-male groups (see also Lotrips, One Direction), an improbable number of players are gay or bi in fanfiction; fic also often features players with their real-life female partners, who are generally ignored or glossed over for the sake of slash storytelling. In July 2021, Luke Prokop, a prospect in the Nashville Predators organization, came out as gay, the first player under contract to do so.

Hockey RPF also includes non-NHL teams. As well as fic set during the Olympics, there is also fic about players in college hockey teams, and fic about players in women's hockey. Popular female hockey players to write fic about are Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, and Julie Chu.

There is a big overlap with the small fandom of the hockey movie "Goon," as well as the All for the Game and Check Please fandoms.

See Hockey RPF/Teams for an expanded list of teams and their popular players and pairings.

Team Pairings

People Involved Primary Pairing Name Team Most Associated With Ship
Jamie Drysdale/Trevor Zegras Anaheim Ducks
Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand Marcheron Boston Bruins
Tyler Seguin/Brad Marchand Boston Bruins
Tyler Seguin/Tyler Brown Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara/Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Johnny Gaudreau/Matthew Tkachuk Calgary Flames
Jeff Skinner/Eric Staal Jeric Carolina Hurricanes
Jeff Skinner/Jordan Staal Carolina Hurricanes
Sebastian Aho (b. 1997)/Teuvo Teravainen Caroline Hurricanes
Dougie Hamilton/Andrei Svechnikov Carolina Hurricanes
Nathan MacKinnon/Tyson Barrie MacBarrie Colorado Avalanche
Tyson Barrie/Gabriel Landeskog Landesbarrie Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog/Tyson Barrie/Nathan MacKinnon MacLandesbarrie Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon/Cale Makar 829 Colorado Avalanche
Andre Burakovsky/Nathan MacKinnon BurkaKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews Kazer,1988 Chicago Blackhawks
Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook Keithbrook Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon Bollig/Andrew Shaw Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrincat/Dylan Strome Stromecat Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn Bennguin Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin/Jordie Benn Dallas Stars
Jordie Benn/Jason Demers Dallas Stars
Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl McDraisaitl, 297 Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall/Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall/Jordan Eberle/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins The Kid Line Edmonton Oilers
Tanner Pearson/Tyler Toffoli/Jeff Carter That 70s Line Los Angeles Kings
Anže Kopitar/Jonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings
PK Subban/Carey Price Montréal Canadians
Alexander Galchenyuk/Brendan Gallagher Les Gallys Montréal Canadians
Cole Caufield/Shea Weber Montréal Canadians
Pekka Rinne/Juuse Saros Nashville Predators
Nico Hischier/Jack Hughes (b. 2001) Hugheschier, 1386 New Jersey Devils
Mathew Barzal/Anthony Beauvillier New York Islanders
Casey Cizikas/Matt Martin New York Islanders
Chris Kreider/Mika Zibanejad Kreidbanejad New York Rangers
Chris Kreider/Mats Zuccarello New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist/Marc Staal New York Rangers
Claude Giroux/Danny Briére Brioux, Brio Philadelphia Flyers
Travis Konecny/Nolan Patrick konectrick Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart/Kevin Hayes Philadelphia Flyers
Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin SidGeno, 871, two-headed monster Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby/Kris Letang sidtanger Pittsburgh Penguins
Conor Sheary/Matt Murray Pittsburgh Penguins
Jake Guentzel/Jamie Oleksiak Pittsburgh Penguins
Justin Schultz/Olli Maatta Pittsburgh Penguins
Paul Martin/James Neal Pittsburgh Penguins
Beau Bennett/Olli Maatta Pittsburgh Penguins
Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr Pittsburgh Penguins
Phil Kessel/Tyler Bozak Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner/Auston Matthews Marnthews, 1634 Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner/John Tavares 1691 Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen/Auston Matthews 3134 Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews/William Nylander 3488 Toronto Maple Leafs
Kasperi Kaparen/William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
Roberto Luongo/Eddie Lack Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser/Elias Pettersson (b. 1998) Boesersson, Peteybrock Vancouver Canucks
Max Pacioretty/Mark Stone Vegas Golden Knights
Nicklas Backstrom/Alexander Ovechkin Ovechstrom, Nickeovi, Nickyovi, 819 Washington Capitals
Tom Wilson/Michael Latta Brobeans Washington Capitals
Andre Burakovsky/Tom Wilson/Michael Latta Washington Capitals
Mark Scheifele/Blake Wheeler Winnipeg Jets

Varying Team Pairings

People Involved Primary Pairing Name
Tyler Seguin/Patrick Kane
Sidney Crosby/Claude Giroux Grilled Cheesby
Sidney Crosby/Nathan MacKinnon
Alexander Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby Crochkin
Leon Draisaitl/Matthew Tkachuk
Connor McDavid/Matthew Tkachuk
Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel McEichel
Connor McDavid/Dylan Strome McStrome
Dylan Strome/Mitch Marner StroMarner
Nolan Patrick/Nico Hischier
Jeff Carter/Mike Richards
Tanner Pearson/Tyler Toffoli

Fandom and the Fourth Wall

The fandom has a very fraught relationship with the fourth wall. See Hockey RPF and the Fourth Wall for an in-depth history.

Sharing Deleted Fanworks

These many negative interactions with the Fourth Wall has led to the community adopting a strict stance against sharing of deleted fanworks and using copyright law to argue against sharing fanworks.

verity has already explained that the onus is legally not on authors to contact people distributing fic and tell them to stop before they stop. it’s not legally there and it’s not morally there. not sharing deleted fic publicly should be the default.[4]

This extends to private sharing, public requests for deleted fanworks, and in one case, even the creation of a database of Hockey RPF that included both current and deleted fanworks.[5] In spite of these prohibitions, at least one Hockey RPF Fic Search blog remains active in 2019.[6] See Sharing Deleted Fanworks for how other communities approach the practice.

Issues & Criticism in Hockey RPF Fandom

International Players

There is some tension in the fandom around international players, xenophobia and racism. The NHL gets a lot more attention in the English-speaking fandom than the KHL or other European leagues, and US- or Canadian-born players generally get a lot more attention in fandom than other players (exceptions include Evgeni Malkin, Jaromír Jágr and Nail Yakupov). This is particularly noticeable with Russian players, who suffer xenophobia from US and Canadian fanbases in their careers, and are sometimes also under-represented or mis-represented in fic. Marina (herself a controversial figure in fandom) has commented on the shallowness and lack of Russian cultural grounding of characterization of Alex Ovechkin in fic.[2] And as slexenskee notes, according to fanfic, Russian players are generally subject to a series of clichés:

All Russian hockey players are secretly in a communist KGB society and totally up in each others business all the goddamn time, and when they go back to Russia they all knit together and get even more up in each others business.[3]

Russian players have also traditionally not been well-served by the mainstream media, to the point that the “enigmatic Russian narrative” is established as a tired cliché.[3] At Grantland, Sean McIndoe writes:

At this point, most hockey fans realize that the phrase “enigmatic Russian” has become redundant. Every Russian NHLer is enigmatic. And every NHL enigma is, by definition, Russian. It’s been one of the league’s treasured clichés since the first wave of Russian players arrived in the late 1980s.[4]

As Russian politics have grown more insular and antidemocratic, arguments about the appropriate behavior of Russian players on the international stage have gotten more intense. In particular, the Russian war on Ukraine that began in 2022 led to a great deal of discussion around players like Alexander Ovechkin openly supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in contrast to players who do not discuss politics. (There are no players who openly condemn Putin following an incident where New York Rangers player Artemi Panerin offered mild criticism and then left the NHL to return to Russia to address 'family matters' for a period of time, which many fans took to mean he was receiving pressure from the Russian government.) In 2022 several Russian prospects were prevented from returning to North America to play due to the war, and there was concern that active players would also be prevented, particularly Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild.

Race & Racism

In the NHL

Compared to athletes in other sports, most hockey players are not known for large personalities, and indeed are encouraged not to cultivate colourful public personas. Related to the “enigmatic Russian” stereotype, this unwritten rule at times intersects with race and ethnicity in problematic ways, especially in the context of a sport where the vast majority of athletes are white.

PK Subban has attracted much attention (and negative press) for his outgoing personality, with many commentators detecting a racialized element in media coverage of him, especially after a former hockey player-turned-pundit suggested that Subban should do things the “white way” off the ice, i.e., adopt a more muted attitude. An article at the National Post called “Subban benching a shame as NHL conformity wins out” described the opposition between Subban’s flamboyance and the NHL’s conservative stance, alluding to how race tied into the matter:

He was quotable. He was fun-loving. He was cocky. He chirped at opposing players more famous than himself. He refused to bow and kiss the hems of their robes just because he was a rookie. […] When he returns, hopefully it will be with no personality at all. Never will he speak another interesting thought, if he knows what’s good for him. […] He will remain black on the outside, but as colourless, for all that, as everyone else in a game that has pretty much hammered all individuality out of its players, and values vanilla above all other flavours.[5]

In her PK/Carey Price primer, LJ user just-katarin discusses the matter more directly:

[G]iven the specific way people talk about PK, as not having respect for others, about being overly flashy and a showboat, it does come across as sort of code. And for anyone who's had to sit uncomfortably while a bunch of hockey fans talk about why hockey is better than basketball, all of the talk of "respect" and "showboating" begins to sound incredibly familiar. Because it's the exact same code everyone was using to discuss why the sport played by mostly black people and enjoyed by many black fans is inferior to a sport played by white people and enjoyed by overwhelmingly white fans.[6]

Tatar/Russian player Nail Yakupov is another who has run up against these conventions to his detriment, attracting criticism for what some felt to be an over-exuberant goal celebration.[7][8]

In another racial matter, impertinence brought up Patrick Kane dressing up in blackface,[9], a post which generated several direct responses (for example, here), and was discussed [10] on Fail Fandom Anon.

In Fandom

The issue of a possible racial dimension to hockey fandom's popularity has been raised; compared to basketball, baseball and football, hockey features far fewer non-white players and is generally agreed to have a whiter fanbase. None of these other sports have anything resembling the RPF/fangirl fandom of hockey, despite the fact that hockey is the least popular of the "big four" sports in the United States (although not, of course, in Canada). In the context of fanon characterization, an anonymous commenter wrote,

No [writers won’t move beyond one-dimensional fanon projections] because they're madly in love with their one dimensional projections and are hellbent on turning the rest of the fandom into that until they find another whitecock fandom to roll around in.[11]

Responses included “The fact that all this is happening in the whiteyest white sports fandom that will ever be pale, salt-white for the foreseeable forever is so not a surprise”[12] and “Yeah, the fact that the two sports I see the most fannish activity for are tennis and hockey says a lot.”[13]

Similar thoughts were expressed in this Metafilter thread. In response to the question of why Hockey RPF is so popular, one commenter wrote: "well, what is the major difference between Hockey and {Baseball, Football, Basketball}... let's see... could it be that the players are almost exclusively white?", with another person writing, "the racial makeup of professional hockey players vs. pro football, baseball, and basketball is pretty hard to ignore here". On the flipside, another poster pointed out that even white stars of other major American sports don't receive the same kind of attention:

I mean, it is and it isn't. Certainly hockey is the whitest professional sport. But the bulk of the stories seem to be centred around a small number of specific players (usually the stars, obvs.) and it's not like baseball and football don't have loads of white star athletes people could choose.

RPF, Slash, & Queer Subcultures

A post by LJ user mardia examined fan assumptions, privilege, and homophobia in relation to hockey RPF fandom and fic. Among other things, Mardia talked about her discomfort with fandom’s speculation with Sidney Crosby’s real-life sexuality. One of the main issues she touched on (which is also applicable to a larger conversation about slash fandoms), is the difference between slash fic conventions and RL queer existence, particularly in reference to real people. As she writes,

I know that coming out fics are and will always be big tropes in sports rpf fandom, and that's not going to change. And yet I keep seeing things that...well. Suffice it to say that if you're writing what purports to be a serious, or even semi-serious look at what it would be like for a gay athlete to be discovering their sexuality/coming out in a both violent and aggressively heterosexual sport, it's probably not a good idea to graft what are essentially slash tropes onto a deeply personal and complicated RL issue. And yet I see this happening a lot in fic, and just--yeah.[14]

A discussion meme on Fail Fandom Anon followed, where some commenters were bothered by how mardia (a straight woman) was talking about writing gay characters. One commenter made the point that a lot of these stories fulfil a fantasy function for queer readers:

Also, I'm really bothered by the comments about the ~naivety~ of the coming-out stories in sports RPF, and how these straight people know how trivializing it all is. Ugh. First of all, way to assume everyone writing non-angsty coming out stories is straight. Also, a huge part of them is wish-fulfillment for queer people![15]

The thread also discusses how coming out stories are often coupled with ‘One True Love’ narratives in fanfic/fandom, and the different ways in which fandom engages with Sidney Crosby’s public persona.

On Fail Fandom Anon, a commenter posted the following lighthearted précis of hockey RPF tropes:

/brought to you by meme's frequent discussions of hockey rps and subsequently creeping on the fandom. I feel like an anthropologist in the wild! "Subverting the Hegemonic Masculinity of Professional Hockey through the Creation of Transformative Homoerotic BDSM Narratives: A Fangirl Anthropologist Observes Her Peers As They Reinforce And Subvert The Prevalent Stereotypes of Female Sports Audiences Via Stories of Men Bonking"[16]

Rape Culture

In the wake of the Patrick Kane rape allegations there were many discussions about rape culture. Fans accused each other of being rape apologists, victim blaming, etc. etc.

In the years since that incident, the fandom has developed a social norm where players accused of sexual assault are banned from depiction in many fandom-specific exchanges and challenges. The fandom kink meme (largely inactive since ~2018) specifically disallows prompts including Patrick Kane, for example.

In the 2020s rape culture and abuse culture in hockey had a larger spotlight turned on them as investigative reporting and victims coming forward uncovered major cases both within NHL organizations (involving a member of the Chicago Blackhawks coaching staff abusing players) and involving members of the community outside of hockey (among others, a case where members of the Canadian World Juniors hockey team were accused of gang rape after a celebration for the team). The latter case led to hearings held in Canadian Parliament, as well as sponsors pulling their support from Hockey Canada. Hopes that the case would lead to major changes were dampened by Hockey Canada declining to change its leadership from the executives at the time of the original investigations.


Fic tends to contain a lot of mentions of players going to practice, going to the gym and eating healthily, as well as the games themselves. However, many writers think of "healthy" as being salads and other light foods suitable for an office worker, rather than the typical diet of an athlete. Lightgetsin had a notable post explaining what team nutritionists would actually recommend or disapprove of;[17] Snowdarkred also posted about this on tumblr.[18]

Example Fanworks

Links & Resources




Fanworks Challenges and Exchanges



  1. ^ Archive of Our Own hosts 33,000 Hockey RPF fanworks, of which 29,000 are m/m slash, 2,400 are not romance-focused, 2,000 are het, and only 500 are femslash. One Quarter of the fanworks with het ships (590) also contained m/m slash ships. Numbers taken from the tag filters on the Hockey RPF page on 30 November 2023.
  2. ^ "Because a bunch of old Bandom BNFs got into it after the collapse of Panic at the Disco and while Fall Out Boy was on hiatus. This happened, in part, because a ton of Bandom BNFs lived in Chicago, and right about then was when the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Cup in forever. Which was also the year of the Vancouver Olympics." Re: Why did hockey rpf make it big in fandom?, anon comment at fail_fandomanon, 2018-02-03.
  3. ^ "Because Bandom BNFs genuinely were concentrated in Chicago. About half the musicians in the Bandom bands were from Chicago, so a lot of people moved there. That is a thing that actually happened." Re: Why did hockey rpf make it big in fandom?, archived, anon comment at fail_fandomanon, 2018-02-03.


  1. ^ Things Hockey Fandom Has Taught Me (Accessed Feb. 18, 2012)
  2. ^ puckling. December 2, 2013 Tumblr post. Accessed 8 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b slexenskee. 20 Things Hockey RPF has taught me that are irrelevant to the sport of hockey, posted to Tumblr on February 14, 2013. Accessed 8 January 2014.
  4. ^ Tumblr, Archived version
  5. ^ Ibid. One fan added tumblr notes: #really private sharing will always happen #but don't oranize a fucking database#. See also Tumblr, Archived version
  6. ^ Tumblr, Archived version