Like all sports, hockey has its own rules, traditions, superstitions and language. If I were to walk up to a non-hockey fan and say “Man, did you see OV with the Gordie Howe hat trick last night? Too bad those blind zebras couldn’t call an elbow if it hit them in the face”…..the non-hockey fan may think I’ve just suffered some kind of breakdown in need of immediate mental assessment.
So, to help out our less veteran fans, here is a short compendium of some common and some odd terms used by hockey players, commentators and fans alike…a hock-tionary if you will (or if you won’t, I don’t judge):
Hat Trick – When one player scores three goals in one game. When this happens, all fans in attendance who are wearing hats celebrate by throwing their hats onto the ice. If you are wearing a hat and do not throw it…other fans are allowed to throw the rest of you into a toilet. Didn’t want to lose your hat? Shouldn’t have worn it!
Gordie Howe Hat Trick – when one player has a goal, an assist and a fight all in one game. This is named after the late, great Gordie Howe who could score and also turn your face into minced meat. This has become a rare feat these days as most scorers don’t want to risk injury in a fight and most fighters couldn’t score with a fist-full of cash in a brothel.
Wingers – these are the forwards who play predominantly on one side of the ice or the other. There are 3 forwards, one is a centreman, one plays on his left wing, the other on his right wing. This assures full ice coverage and benefits those players who are left and right-handed shots. The fact that it’s referred to as ‘wings’ makes you think it would have made for a better signature move in the Mighty Ducks movies than that stupid Flying V….the Iceland team crushed that! Dammit Coach Bombay, you’ll always be a failure in my eyes!
The Can Opener – My fondest memories of this was in the McCabe days with the Leafs, it made up for his redneck mo-hawk. This is when a player puts his stick between the legs of an opponent and twists it so as to trip him up. This is not allowed, it’s a tripping penalty, but it’s funny as hell to watch. The term can opener comes from the twist and flip motion, not, like a friend of mine once believed, because the player hides a metal instrument in their pants with which to hit the other team.
Sin Bin – an alternate term for the penalty box. This is where penalized players sit for their grown man’s time out when they have been naughty or when the ref is a moron who calls stupid trips that were not trips (i.e. Holtby tripped over his own stick morons!!) There are many nicknames for the penalty box, my personal favourite being ‘Wendel’s House’
Hockey Hair – really, just google it, it’s magnificent. Popularized in the 80’s and 90’s, hockey players were notorious for having some of the best mullets of all-time. Jaromir Jagr was, and will always be, the reigning champ of best hockey hair of all-time, although the Gretzky and Lemieux heydays were quite glorious. While no longer really worn, sometimes you get some throwbacks in the playoffs to match the perennial playoff beards (an entirely different topic, see Joe Thornton 2016)
Goal Crease – This is the area around the goal, painted and the home of the weirdest and least understood creature in all of hockey, the goalie. This area is not allowed to be occupied by other players when attempting to score, only the goalie…and if you should cross into it, you should be prepared to receive a crosscheck to the spine with a goalie stick, or an opposing defenseman’s fist in your jugular. Goalies are very territorial creatures, and if you mess with them, they may get very angry and scream at the ref…but then trip..and fall down…and take the ref down too…oh Cujo, you crazy bastard.
Offside – I’m not even going to try….seriously…
China Wall – nickname of Hall of Fame goalie Johnny Bower, so named as he was nearly impenetrable and a very resilient goalie. He played in the days when goalies did not wear masks, which you would think would explain his weathered face, however Johnny has looked 85 since he was 25 years old. Amongst the nicest human beings you will ever meet, some believe that a smile from Johnny Bower can bring puppies back to life.
Original Six – the first era of the NHL in which only 6 teams existed from 1942 until1967. While the NHL existed prior to 1942, teams were quite transitive and inconsistent, there were many moves and name changes of teams (i,e Toronto St.Pats became the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators played and collapsed….as they should again). The teams were located in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, New York, Boston and Detroit. As a Leafs fan, you tend to be able to respect these teams more than most as they come from an era in which hockey existed in its purest form…which is all we have ever won. Upon expansion in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers (and others) entered the league and hockey was tainted forever….lookin at you Bobby Clark.
Puck Bunny – a less than favourable nickname for the female hockey fans who only like hockey for the players’ looks. Also called ‘puck f**ks’, they only watch hockey from their backs and cannot spell Nordiques or Gretzky. If their jersey is longer than their skirt, their layer of makeup is thicker than the ice surface and they can only name you Lupul…she’s a puck bunny. Like most bunnies, they’re cute to look at but will hump anything and are fun to hit with a car.
Holding – hockey players look and act tough, but really they are all just big teddy bears and sometimes, in the middle of games, they just need to hug it out. This is only allowed on the benches and in the locker rooms where hug huddles or ‘huggles’ are often held just to assuage the sensitive emotions of the players. The fear is that they will not get any hockey played if they’re allowed to hug too much. Just kidding, it’s when you hold back another player from the puck…pretty simple really.
Miracle on Ice – in the 1980 Olympics, the underdog American team beat the superior USSR team. They didn’t win gold, they won a game but they’re American so they like to think this was the best hockey game ever. Two words: Henderson Scores. Suck it.
Grinder – not only a terrible show with Rob Lowe, also a hockey term. This refers to a player who plays with grit, he drives to the boards, he takes the body and works hard. He’s not always going to be the highest scorer because often he’s busy doing the key bits away from the puck that flashier players don’t bother with…like getting into a fight (didn’t wanna risk that movie star smile eh Modano?)
Icing – when a player shoots the puck across both the centre red line and the opposing team’s goal line without anyone touching it in between. Used to get the puck as far out of the zone as possible in times of panic. My personal least favourite hockey term as whenever it happens, it makes me crave cupcakes and frankly, I’m beginning to look like one.
Maple Leaves – it’s often asked why it’s “Leafs” and not “Leaves” and other fans laugh at Leafs fans claiming we’re stupid and cannot spell. One big theory of the name is that the Toronto Maple Leafs got their name from a regiment during WWI called the “Maple Leaf Regiment”. In this case, the Maple Leaf would be a proper name and not a noun which thereby should not be pluralized as a noun but as a name. SO KISS MY LEAFSSSSSSSSSSS. (not like you get to criticize anyways Ottawa…you’re the Senators but your logo is a centurion?!)
So now you know a few more terms from the wide world of hockey. I cannot guarantee that this will assist you in understanding everything about hockey, I’ve still only ever understood about 23% of anything Don Cherry has ever said.
Administrator’s Note: Andrea does not know this yet, but this is going to be a reoccurring column. Now ya know Nerdy.