Ask the hockey guy

One of my favorite things about the SD is the Ask The… threads. In that vain I’m here to offer you all my knowledge and experience about the world of hockey. A brief background on myself:

I’m 23 years old and have been skating since I was 3, playing hockey since I was 7, and reffing for the past year. I made it up through Junior Hockey before finally calling it a career.

Questions about the rules? Always wondered what icing is or why the players fight so much? Curious about the lockout? Want to know if I still have all my teeth? Now’s your chance to find about anything about hockey, but were afraid to ask. Fire away!

How can you pee? :confused:

Yeah, icing. What the hell is this? I’ve seen it on numerous occasions and still have no idea. Best I’ve been able to manage is hitting the puck too far without getting it on goal, but that wouldn’t explain the use of dumpoffs.

Also, what’s the purpose of only allowing passes across one line? I find the whole concept of offsides to be pretty lame as it is, but this business with the lines just strikes me as needlessly complicated. No matter how I’ve looked at it, I just cannot see mandated selfish play as a good thing.

Finally, “checking”. How did that become the most overused word in the entire sport? There’s all kinds of variations, some of them illegal. Besides, it’s not checking, it’s hitting. Any defender who tried to stop a hard-charging shooter by slowing him down a bit would become a laughingstock.

BTW, too bad about the lockout. Really, really hope both sides reach a long-term agreement.

Why isn’t it more mainstream in the US? I have my own theory, but I’d be interested in yours.

Great idea for a thread.

  1. What do you think of the proposed shootout rule for the NHL? I think it is an abomination unto the Lord.

  2. Have you ever purposely aimed a puck at an official just to make him jump?

  3. What is the origin of whacking the goalie on the pads before the game?

  4. Do the refs let you talk at them as long as you don’t show them up? Like saying “you blew that one big time” through your mask without being animated.

  5. How do you like your ice? Freshly surfaced when the period starts, or nicely worn when the period ends?

More kudos for the thread. I hope we’re not overwhelming you with our questions!

  1. What did you think of the movies: a) Slap Shot and b) Miracle? In what ways did they get it right, or not?

  2. Why are offensive players variously called “forwards” and “wingmen”? As I understand it, an offensive line consists of a center and two wings, but sometimes they’re all just referred to as forwards… What’s the prevailing practice, and what’s more accurate?

  3. How fine is the line between the typical “defenseman” and an “enforcer,” “policeman,” or “goon”? Is the typical goon usually a sub-par defenseman, or one who’s gotten older and lost some speed (esp. due to injury)? Can a d-man who was encouraged to take on a goon role for a season or two rehabilitate his image and status and play as regular a regular defenseman again – or are they victims of a kind of typecasting?

  4. Even though I’ve paid relatively little attention to hockey so far (I’m basically a football fan), even I can see there’s a HUGE difference in the style and feel of a game played on a regular-sized rink, vs. on the big ice in the Olympics. I’ve always loved watching Olympic hockey – it’s fast, fluid, “finesse” game, and I feel like I can even follow the puck better. (Plus there’s the nationalism element, always a plus.) But when I’ve tried pro hockey, it just seems like a slower, cruder, more constipated game overall, with lots more interruptions, checking, and fighting… What are your impressions along these lines? And why is hockey played on the smaller rink commercially? (Because it’s cheaper to maintain and puts the fans closer to the action?) Do you think hockey could become more popular with the general public if it transitioned to the expanded rinks, and is that a totally impossible pipe dream for fans of the Olympic-sized game?

  5. What position did you play?

  6. Is it true that hockey players are the nicest guys off the ice? :wink:

Generally before a game. If its a dire emergency you can unzip everything enough to relieve yourself. We’re not like race car drivers who just wet themselves mid race. At least I’m not.

For an official definition of icing you can look here

The simplified version is a team shoots the puck from their half of the rink (behind the center red line) past to opposing goal line without it touching anyone. There are exceptions for things like penalty killing, if the opposing team didn’t make an effort to play it, and automatic vs. touch icing, but thats the jist of it. Please ask me to clarify if need be.

The justification behind it is that you don’t want have a player sitting at the other end of the rink just waiting for a pass (Known as cherry picking). My guess is the league thought that seeing the team skate it down the ice as a group rather than just passing it the length of the ice was more exciting.

That’s a good question that I don’t have an answer for. I’ve never really thought of why there aren’t different words for forechecking, backchecking, stick checking, poke checking etc… The common denominator among all of them is a desire to get the puck, but beyond that I don’t know. Hockey folk aren’t known for their linguisitc skills though.

The word on the street is that the salary cap portion of the deal has been worked out and now they’re working on the smaller parts like free agency, olympic participation, rule changes etc… I personally expect a deal within a month or so and a full season this fall.

My theory of why hockey isn’t more popular here is threefold.

  1. Its expensive. Up in Canada you have a longer winter season with easy access to free ice. Here, save a few areas up north, the window for free ice is much smaller. My senior year high school team fees alone were $2000. This only covered ice time and a tournanemnt or two. Equipment and transportation were extra. I’m fortunate that my parents could afford it, but for a lot of kids it just isn’t an option.

  2. It’s not TV friendly. As someone who’s grown up watching and playing the game I can easily follow the puck on TV. And I even still don’t see exactly how most goals are scored i.e. actually see the puck go in the net without seeing it on replay. Compare this with baseball/football/basketball where the scoring is easily seen. Also, the fighting turns off a lot of people. There is a (antiquated in my view) notion that hockey is nothing more than boxing on ice. Incidents like Todd Bertuzi slugging Steve Moore and Marty McSorely hitting Donald Braesher with a stick certainly don’t help.

  3. Not Enough Scoring. The average goals per game has been consistently dropping in the past decade and is one of the things the NHL is most concerned about. Most people don’t want to see a 2-1 defensive battle; they want a 6-5 run n’ gun shootout. I personally enjoy both, but understand why many wouldn’t. I also think this is a big reason soccer hasn’t become as big here as elsewhere.

Sigh I’m rather torn about this. From a hockey point of view I agree its an abomination. Deciding a hockey game with a shootout would be like deciding a baseball game with a homerun derby. Entertaining, but totally missing the point of the game. However, if it would bring in substantialy more fans (I don’t know that it would) I’d be open to trying it. Of all the proposed fan-friendly changes I think this would be the least painful to accept. But dammit, what’s wrong with a tie?

In my younger days I certainly would have considered it. Maybe not hitting them, but wringing it around the boards quick enough to make them jump. Now that I’ve grown older and have started reffing, certainly not.

I’m not sure what the exact origin is. My guess would be it’s one final ‘Hey goalie, make sure you’re awake out there’. Some goalies like it, others don’t. Goalies are a weird group, especially about their pregame rituals.

Most of the refs will let you talk to them, especially if you’re genuinely asking about a call/stating your case. Once you start yelling and swearing most will cut you off. Whether they skate away or give you a penalty depends on the ref. Personally I will give a player a lot of leeway in yelling and swearing in frustration, however I will not tolerate it if its directed at me personally. “This fucking sucks” I will let slide. “Go fuck yourself” will get you a 10 min misconduct.

I personally like a nice hard smooth ice surface. One of my favorite things about Juniors was that they would resurface the ice after every period. At the end of mens league games now the ice is torn to shreds.

I hope CMiller doesn’t mind me answering a few questions.

Icing is when a team shoots the puck from its side of the centre red-line across the goal line of the opposing team without putting into the net. In the NHL, the opposing team must have a skater(ie, anybody but the goalie) touch the puck after it crosses the goal line. If the offensive team reaches it first, icing is “waved off”. Icing also is “waved off”(isn’t called) when:
-It touches any player of either team on the opposing team’s half of the ice
-It touches any player of the opposing team along its path
-The linesman feels that a skater from opposing team could have reached the puck before it crossed the goal line had he tried to
-The goaltender of the opposing team leaves his crease
-The puck enters the crease prior to crossing the goal line

It prevents cherry-picking and helps keep the defencemen as part of the play. Without the two-line pass rule, you see defencemen having to play much further back, and then they can’t help the forwards put offensive pressure on the opposition.

Besides, the stretch pass rarely works and tends to lead to a lot of icings.

Neither is really more prevalent or correct. It’s like talking about the O-Line or tackles in American Football. The O-Line is a specific unit, and the tackles are a specific position on the O-Line.

Actually, “enforcers” are more typically forwards, not defencemen. In your game-day lineup teams generally dress 12 forwards and 6 defencemen, so losing a forward for 5 minutes(while serving a fighting major) isn’t as signicant as losing a defencemen. The difference between an enforcer and a goon is a subjective one. Leafs fans would call Tie Domi an enforcer and Vaclav Varada a goon, while Sens fans would call Domi the goon and Varada a grinder(someone who hits but doesn’t fight).

Usually, if a player(especially a defenceman) is good enough to make the NHL without being an enforcer, he wouldn’t be encouraged to play as an enforcer. Finding good talent is difficult, but the minor leagues are full of tough players who can fill the role of enforcer. As to whether goons can ever typecast, I’ve no doubt that it happens, but not always. Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in league history at 6’9", was played as a goon by the New York Islanders. He was a minor part of a big trade with Ottawa – the Senators needed some size, so he was thrown into the deal as a bit of an afterthought. He blossomed with the Sens, though, and in the last NHL season, his third with Ottawa, he was the runner-up in voting for the Norris Trophy as the best defenceman in the NHL.

Well, keep in mind that all of the talent from 30 NHL teams get concentrated onto 8-10 national teams for the Olympics. The best NHL teams couldn’t hold a candle to most of the national teams you see at the Olympics. I would say that this is the biggest difference between NHL hockey and Olympic hockey, not the rule changes or different-sized ice.

The other big difference between NHL hockey and Olympic hockey that makes the NHL game so much worse is the enforcement(or lack thereof) of the rules. Teams have won championships with defensive strategies that essentially consist of grabbing and hooking players whenever possible. The NHL has refused to deal effectively with the problem, and the referees have this ridiculous notion of “letting the players play”, which basically means they ignore most of the infractions and call a few token penalties.

The reason for the different ice sizes is mainly historical, I think. “International” rules were developed in Europe while the NHL rules were developed in North America, and I have no clue why they chose different sized ice-surfaces. The NHL could switch to international ice surfaces, but they’d lose 2-3 rows of the most expensive seats in the arena, and they probably wouldn’t make it back

We had a player several years ago who started with the Cottonmouths at 6’6"and continued to grow. Our coach at the time chose to use him almost exclusively as a goon, which did cause him to get “typecast”. When we (thankfully) got a new coach, he took #29 and helped him develop into a fine hockey player. He scored his first goal for us at an away game and I thought the chat room was going to explode. When he scored a goal at home it took 5 minutes for the cheering to stop. We lost him to the AHL when we went to the SPHL.

As for the popularity of hockey in the US, I still don’t know what got me addicted. I have never been a fan of any type of sports, yet I got addicted to hockey my first game. I now have season tickets and am a Booster Club member.

You are correct, CMiller - I think part of the problem is that it doesn’t play well on TV.

I went to a boxing match a few years ago and a hockey game broke out.

I’ve a few more:

A) Do good hockey scorers tend to be ambidextrous, or are there prolific scorers who are less flexible that way?

B) What does it mean when a score is said to have come off the weak foot or the wrong foot? (Taking a shot from the direction of the foot which doesn’t have your weight on it?)

C) How dangerous is it for the non-goalies, re. flying pucks? In theory, they’re in considerable danger, what with long-ice slap shots on goal, out-of-control passes, and the like… Should hockey players wear more protection, even if it’s just safety goggles?

Again, thanks for the thread.

What do you think are the good and bad things about:

NHL hockey
NCAA hockey
International hockey
For the NCAA game, one thing I like is that it doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference whether a penalty occurs in the first minute or in overtime, it’s going to be called the same way. In the NHL, a penalty must be flagrant to get called in the latter part of a close game.

I hate the NCAA automatic icing. If you can get back there and touch the puck first, you deserve to get icing waved off.

The international game features the dreaded shootout. Ugh! But it’s great to watch different styles of play. The plays seem to be much more finessed than the NHL.

I don’t think that being ambidextrous would really be that much of an advantage. Most of the power behind a shot comes from the body(and in the case of a slapshot, the legs), not the arms. When stickhandling, the hand holding the end of the stick does most of the work, while the bottom hand just helps to guide the stick.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard that said before, at least not in a hockey game. Perhaps if a player was off-balance and leaning backwards while making a quick shot, but I really have no idea.

Some players wear visors on their helmets to protect their eyes, but it’s not mandatory. The major danger to the eyes is actually other players’ sticks, though, not the puck, although some players have definitely been hit in the eye by the puck before. There are those who think that visors should be made mandatory, but that’s opposed by traditionalists who think that visors are a sign of weakness, and that players who wear visors are more likely to high-stick other players,.

What you do see at least once every season is a player who takes a slapshot off of the foot or ankle and breaks a bone. It’s really quite difficult to protect that area while still allowing the player freedom of movement. There have been incidents in recreational leagues where players slid on the ice to block a shot and been hit in the chest, stopping their hearts. There was even one horrific incident in the NHL a few years ago where Trent McCleary, then a player for the Montreal Canadiens, had his larnyx crushed by a slapshot. They ended up having to do a tracheostomy in the hospital to save his life. Injuries that severe are extremely rare, of course, but they do happen.

The value of being ambidextrous in hockey is not so much in ease of stickhandling but in unpredictability. Gordie Howe was famously ambidextrous and played with a flat-bladed stick. For him, there was no off-hand and he could shoot as well from either side.

No-touch icing is something that needs to be brought into the NHL, if only for safety. It’s resulted in many needless and horrific career-ending injuries (paging Mike Tinordi) for a play that isn’t really that exciting.

Sorry for the delay, I spent more time traveling yesterday than I would have liked. Back to the questions.

Thank you! Not at all, please ask away. And any other hockey players out there please feel free to answer as well. The more, the better.

A. Slap Shot is a timeless hockey classic and actually does manage to get a few things right. The minor leagues of hockey are not glamorous and are often played in little blue collar towns where the owners are incredibly cheap. This has been changing in recent years with the higher levels of minor league hockey (The AHL) gaining more attention. The hockey itself in the movie isn’t terrible, but of course isn’t representitive of the actual game. Anyone behaving that maliciously would be suspended indefinitely from their league. I will add that the strategy of ‘gooning it up’ to win games over a more skilled opponent can be an effective one.

B. I love Miracle. I went and saw it the first day it came out and bought the DVD the day it was released. They did an excellent job with the hockey by finding hockey players and teaching them to act rather than vice versa. Obviously some of the drama was added/embelished and the language was cleaned up for Disney, but overall it was pretty close. I would recommend renting Do You Believe In Miracles? by HBO for a more in depth look at the actual team.

I can’t find any rhyme or reason for using either team. All wingmen are forwards, but not all forwards are wingmen. They can pretty much be used interchangeably. No real prevailing practice, much like Soda vs. Pop etc…

There is a big difference between the two in my opinion. A good defenseman will not only be able to drop the gloves, but to be effective on defense as well as help the offense accomplish their goal. Traditionally you have two types of defenseman.
The first is the offensive minded defenseman such as Paul Coffey and the defensive minded defenseman like Chris Pronger

Going back and forth between the roles isn’t too tough provided you can do the job for both. Obviously the more multi-faceted a player, the more likely he is to be kept around.

You’re correct, there is a large difference between the two games. The international rink is considerably wider than North American rinks which leads to a more wide open fluid type of game. The North American rinks are smaller which leads to a tighter checking, less fluid (more constipated) type game. I would love to see the international style brought here, but I don’t think it will happen. The Olympics are often used as an example for getting rid of fighting, but I think is unfair. At the Olympics you’re seeing the best of the best skating at top speed. Your average NHL game played on an international rink may be a bit faster, but the skill level overall just isn’t there to make it comprable to the Olympics day in and day out. Also I think revenue plays a part. For every few feet you expand the rink you lose a row of seats that can be bringing in cash. As everyone knows the NHL isn’t exactly awash in money at the moment.

I have played every position including goalie over the years. Currently I stick to center and right wing, but will fill in where needed.

Of course :wink:

As Rysto mentioned being ambidextrous isn’t a huge advantage. Most people pick a side to shoot from and stick with it. Personally I’m a righty, but shooting lefty just felt more natural when I was younger. Ask me to shoot righty today and I will embarass myself.

I think you’re referring to shooting from your ‘off foot’. Shooting lefty I would generally have my right foot forward and would place the majority of my weight on it when shooting. If I were to come down and shoot while leaning to the left (On my left foot) this would be shooting from the off foot.

I’ve seen very few traumatic injuries from a puck (beyond a few stiches), but I know the danger exists. I believe it was Jeremy Roenick who took a slap shot to the jaw that required extensive repair. Personally I would like to see half shields mandated at all leves, even the pros. The damage to teeth can be repaired (I’ve lost two) but what always worries me is my eyes. Those are less easy to fix. And generally it happens when you least expect it i.e. sitting on the bench chatting vs. in the middle of the play.

What do you think of fighting in hockey? Integral part of the game that is irreversibly woven into the heritage of the sport, as well as providing a valuable safety valve for players’ aggression OR outright embarrassment to the sport that should be rooted out and extinguished?

I’d be interested to hear what you think yourself as a hockey guy, and what you think the prevailing opinion amongst the more casual fan is.

(BTW, ever spend time on hockey fight sites? An amazing subculture)