As we approach the new NHL season, it’s always best to brush up on one’s knowledge and vernacular. With the excitement surrounding the Leafs this season, you want to be able to understand and join in with the water cooler conversation that’s bound to take place over the coming months.
So gentlemen (and some ladies), here are a few more terms you may come across while discussing Canada’s truest love (other than a Timmy run on a winter morning):
Moose – nickname of Mark Messier (active player from 1978-2004). Regarded as one of the greats, he played on many championship teams with the Oilers and Rangers before a slightly boring years near the end in Vancouver. Best known for being an imposing physical force as well as being the guy who once took the Stanley Cup to a strip club…ew. It’s often said that Messier’s stats are more of a reflection of having great teammates than talent…but those Lays commercials didn’t film themselves.
Duster – a less than favourable term to describe a low-skill player. This player would not see a lot of ice time, instead his butt is usually cleaning the dust off of the bench. Basically what Matthew Barnaby would have been if fighting was banned from the NHL. Similar to referring to someone as a pylon, you’d get more use out of an actual Swiffer duster.
Red Army – The nickname for the Soviet hockey team before the fall of the USSR. While the US had tense political situations such as the Bay of Pigs and en entire cold war with the soviets, Canada chose to take their anti-communist tensions to where things are settled- the ice. The summit series of 1972 being the most famous tournament against the Red Army, the soviets were as well trained as the military and sometimes just as ruthless. Many players who were in the Red Army near the fall of the USSR in the early 90’s would later come to the NHL. For a good laugh, listen to old tapes of games against Russia prior to Russians being a regular presence in the NHL- the commentators struggling to pronounce names like Mogilny, Fetisov and Tretiak is a little bit of hilarious.
Back Check – To have to write a cheque backdated for all the penalties you took that season. Players have to pay for every penalty to the naughty jar and if they take too many penalties, they get a spanking from the team mascot. Actually, it’s just body checking someone while skating back towards your net….but my explanation is more interesting.
Free Agent – when a player has no existing contract to play with a team. This means that the player is free to negotiate salary and where he wants to play with any team he likes. There are multiple levels of free agency, restricted, unrestricted, wizard, Hufflepuff….dungeon master…I dunno. This is where the legal and stat nerds have a field day being able to break down the technicalities and numbers of a player’s paid-for value.
Bill Barilko – disappeared, that summer, he was on a fishing trip. The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the Cup. They didn’t win another until 1962, the year he was discovered. Ok…it’s not a definition…it’s a Tragically Hip song but….*sniff* it’s true and *sniff sniff* oh man…Gord *sobs like a newborn child*
Rebuild – the act of clearing out the current players and staff and building anew. Some teams have been very successful at this process through careful management, drafting, hiring, scouting and development. Other teams…are the Edmonton Oilers.
Las Vegas – home of the newest expansion team of the NHL. It was chosen over more traditional hockey markets such as Quebec City and Hamilton because it exemplifies everything that Gary Bettman is- overpriced, lacking substance and clueless about hockey.
Ok team, now that you’ve gotten your education, let’s dive into this season with our newfound knowledge and you’ll be getting invited out to watch games and drink beer in no time. As for me…I’ll be watching alone with my cat…here kitty kitty….here kitty….