Hockey Tradition or Superstition?


It’s down to the NY Rangers and the LA Kings sporting faces with playoff beards. No one really knows for sure who actually began this crazy tradition or superstition but it is believed to be during the NY Islanders winning stint in the 1980’s. Not all players participated in the effort at that time, and it is unclear of any definite reason for this hairiness. It could have been superstition, in which hockey players are notorious, or perhaps because players chose to concentrate solely on their hockey games and not personal grooming. It has also been mentioned that it happened naturally while playing four games in five nights and not having time to shave. Depending on whom you ask, some trimming of the playoff beard is acceptable in the case of a loss, in order to change the series in their favor.

What about the Stanley Cup? It’s simple. Don’t touch it until it is officially yours and then you must hoist it. Don’t think about touching the conference trophies either. Nobody knows how, or who, started this tendency, but it has been going on since the mid to late 1990’s. The NY Rangers skated around and hardly looked at the Prince of Wales Trophy in order to avoid any hindrances in their chance for the Cup. What’s with the team logos on the floors of the locker rooms? Don’t step on them. It is out of respect for the organization and what the logo means. The same goes for the sweater. You do not drop it to the floor in a heap. Hockey is built on tradition.  Call it tradition or a superstition; it is a tap on a sign when entering the stadium, the taping of the stick, a favorite shirt under the jersey or anything else that is done repetitively before a hockey game.

Pittsburgh Penguin, Sidney Crosby has a unique pre game ritual He enters the stadium in a winding path down hallways in order to not pass by the visitors’ locker room. At precisely 5:00 p.m. he eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Next is a soccer kick around with other Penguins and stretching. Yes, the same stretches in the same order. He dresses in his lucky cup that he has had for years. The routine is complete when he enters the ice, which used to be last before Evgeni Malkin’s arrival.  Who would be last was then determined by “rock/ scissors/ paper”. Now a special handshake with Malkin was inserted to the ritual and Crosby enters the ice before him. In addition, he only uses tape for his sticks provided by the home team and he lifts his feet and touches the glass when the team bus goes over railroad tracks.

“The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky had an interesting routine. He would shoot a puck to the right of the net, drink a Diet Coke, a glass of water, a Gatorade and a Diet Coke during practice. He also put his jersey on left side first with the right side tucked in resulting in Nike changing the placement of their logo.

Personally, I must wear Blackhawk apparel during the game.  However, this last series against the King’s my shirts proved to be a jinx and the Blackhawks would win when I didn’t wear feathers. I admit, the last game we tried sitting in the same seats, not wearing our fan fare and drinking the same drinks we did on the previous winning game day. Obviously, I would like to blame the loss on my superstitions rather than my team playing less than excellent.

Will you be performing any rituals or wearing anything to help your favored team in the last series of 2014? Do you know of any others? Let me know!