As the Canucks wake up in Texas, getting ready for Game 3, I'm sure there's a few itchy chins in the Dallas area. Nobody's really sure how the playoff beard tradition got started, although Wikipedia suggests it may have began with the New York Islanders.
Hockey players and fans are a superstitious lot. Personally, I'm fascinated by hockey ritual and have a few of my own. I play right defense for a women's rec league team and for the past three years have had an Ed Jovanovski collector coin in the right skate compartment of my hockey bag. I wear a bandana under my helmet, and have a collection, all of which either have skulls or Canadian flag patterns. I have a silver pendant that I never take off which is two crossed hockey sticks surrounding my jersey number. I wear the same tattered shirt under my gear every game, it's black and has my team logo embroidered over the heart. However, I just can't get into the never washing it thing. I use white tape on my stick blade, under the probably false belief that it allows me to see the puck better. On the top I use tape I found printed with the Hockey Canada logo.
From what I've heard, any rituals or superstitions the NHL players have become amplified during the playoffs. Here are some notable odd behaviours I have read about over the years:
Never cut his hair on the road.
During the warm-up, always shot his first puck way off to the right of the goal, then went back to the dressing room drank a Diet Coke, a glass of iced water, a Gatorade, and another Diet Coke.
Always is the last one dressed before a game.
"Between periods, I juggle with a puck and bounce it on the ground. Then I put it in a special place where no one will find it and make off with it, otherwise... so the legend goes, bad luck could befall the culprit and he would suddenly turn into an alligator."
Waits until exactly thirty eight minutes before game time to pull on his elbow pads and tapping the ice on either side of his crease four times each.
Then, of course, there's the overall superstition that one must not touch the Stanley Cup before winning it, and the words "shut out" should never be spoken when the score is 0 against your team.
I'd like to add to my collection of hockey superstitions. If you have a minute, post yours (either as a player or a fan) in the comments section of my blog.
April 15, 2007