Hockey Superstitions

Welcome again to my continued celebration for the release of my new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, that will go live on 02/15/20. In celebration of this release, I’m doing a series of bonus posts all this month on topics that in any way relates to Ice Gladiators.

Triskaidekaphobia. Never heard of it? Well, how about paraskevidekatriaphobia. Never heard of it, either? Well, neither had I, at least, not by those names. So, let’s dissect these. Phobias are extreme fears. Triskaidekaphobia (TRIS·kye·DEK·ə·FOH·bee·ə) is the fear of the number thirteen. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of “completion.” Since thirteen follows twelve, it is considered as being insignificant. Thirteen also is considered evil.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia (PARAS·kye·DeK·ə·tric·ə·FOH·bee·ə) is more than a tongue twister. It is the name for the irrational fear of Friday the 13th. No, not the slasher movies, the date. Many people have a true fear of this date believing it is unlucky or some unfortunate/negative event will occur. It is estimated that approximately 8% of people have this phobia. Fears/phobias and superstitions are not the same thing. While fears, phobias, and superstitions may coexist and be related, fears and phobias do not necessarily lead to superstitions. In short, having a fear or a phobia does not cause one to engage in superstitious behavior. A person holds a superstition because he/she makes an assumption that if a particular behavior is not performed, it will result in a negative (or sometimes positive) consequence.

So, why am I discussing this? From the title of this article, you probably have a good idea as to why. Superstition is nothing new to sports, and it surely is nothing new to hockey. Many players have them.

What is superstition? According to the dictionary definition, a superstition is an unjustified or excessively credulous belief, reverence, or practice resulting from the trust in luck or magic, fear of the unknown, or ignorance. It is a belief in mystical causation leading to specific consequences of an event or action and/or an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, perception retained despite indication or evidence to the contrary, and/or a false conception of causation, nature, or God resulting from superstition. Now, isn’t that a mouthful.

Now that the superstition is defined, what are some of the superstitions found in hockey? There are many, that’s for sure. Some are quite bizarre while others are so subtle, they may go unnoticed. Listed below are some of the more common superstitions seen in hockey. They are listed in no particular order or significance.

  1. No matter what sport, all athletes must get from the dressing room to the playing field. In hockey, the playing field is, of course, the ice. Now, one may think this is a no brainer and wonder why it’s mentioned here. It’s because, for many hockey teams, the march to the ice is a big deal. Many teams have a lineup order. Others may not have a line order but have a superstition about who should lead the team to the rink. For some teams, it is the goalie, and for others, it is the captain. Yet, others may be led by the player who scored their last winning goal.
  2. But getting onto the ice isn’t the only journey superstition. Getting off of the ice has its superstitions, too. Some players feel they must be the last player to leave the ice after the conclusion of a game or the end of each period. This can be problematic if two players in the same game hold this superstition. One example of this is Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets. These two players have settled who is the last to go off the ice in some interesting ways including flipping coins and playing rock, paper, scissors. Yes, they really did that.
  3. In the 1980s, the New York Rangers had a series of playoff and championship wins. During that time, none of the players shaved. It is said this is where this next superstition originated. It’s commonly referred to as the playoff beards. During playoffs, hockey players do not shave and allow their beards to grow.
  4. Players tapping their sticks on the ice is not an unfamiliar sight to most fans. However, for many players, tapping their sticks is an important ritual they must complete. Some players may need to tap their stick a designated number of times. Others may need to engage in the behavior in a particular spot on the ice. Then, for some players, they may need to do this before or after a specific drill or task.
  5. Another superstition fans may witness players engaging in, especially during pre-game warmup is, flipping the puck or stickhandling. It may seem like harmless horseplay (puck play) or showing off, but many times this is serious business for players. Some players engage in the superstition by flipping the puck in his hands. Others do so by flipping the puck and catching the puck on their stick. Again, they may have a designated number of times that they must flip the puck. They believe engaging in this behavior will affect their performance in some way.
  6. Probably the most common hockey superstition is the ritual of taping the stick. Just about every player has a preferred and unique way of taping his sticks. These may include the type of tape used, the direction in wrapping, the number of times the tape must wound around the stick, and too many others to mention them all here. If the tape isn’t wrapped precisely, the player takes all the tape off and begins again. Some players are noted to not allow anyone else to touch their sticks once they have taped them. If this happens, the player may untape them and begin the ritual again.
  7. And speaking of not touching, the is a superstition that players cannot touch the championship trophy until their team has won it. Touching the trophy that hasn’t been won will bring bad luck to the entire team. So, even for players who aren’t superstitious, their superstitious teammates keep them in check.
  8. One superstition that fans may not see is players getting into the zone by listening to music. This may not seem superstitious since many people use music to unwind, relax, or focus. I use it while writing. What makes this a superstition for many players is that they never alter their playlist. They must listen to the same songs in the same order before each game.
  9. Music isn’t the only thing that has to be in order. Some players must dress in a certain order. For example, a player may put on his left sock first and then the right followed the left skate and then the right, left shin pad followed by the right, etc. This behavior is often referred to as left-right-left or right-left-right, depending on the direction the player begins dressing.
  10. Along the same lines, some players are superstitious regarding changing anything about their routine on game day. They may start by eating the same breakfast, drinking the same number of beverages, wearing the same clothes (sometimes without washing—imagine how that must smell…foul!). Instead of replacing worn clothes, they have them mended or patched. It may also include driving the same route to the arena, parking in the same spot, using the same exercise machines in the same order, using the same soaps or deodorants, or playing the same pre-warmup games.
  11. Now, let’s talk goaltenders. There are two superstitions specifically involving goalies that I want to mention. First, some goalies hit the post or the crossbar before the start of each game or each period while others talk to the goals. Personally, I’ve always wondered about that conversation. I’d image it’s pretty one-sided.
  12. Second, and I’m unsure if this stems from the goalie as personal superstition or from the team as a whole, but players tap the goalie’s pads before face-offs and after blocking goals. To fans, this may seem a congratulatory or well-wishing behavior, but for a lot of players, this is a full-blown superstition that they must do.
  13. Finally, I’ll end with a thirteenth superstition (cause I’m special that way). This last superstition is called the hat trick. After a player scores three goals in the same game, fans toss their hats/caps onto the ice. Originally, the goals scores had to be consecutive with no other player scoring in between. However, now the term-hat trick is used more generally, and natural hat-trick is sometimes used to refer to consecutive goals. There are many legends about how this tradition started. Some hypothesize because hats were given to any player who scored three goals in a game. According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the term came to be due to Alex Kaleta making a deal with a store owner. Reported, Kaleta entered a store to purchase a hat. He didn’t have enough money, and the store owner agreed to give him a hat if he scored three goals in the game later that night. Kaleta ended up scoring four goals, and the store owner made good on the deal. By definition, this may not be a superstition, but some fans may feel that breaking this tradition will bring a team bad luck. Thus, it’s included in this article.

What are your thoughts on superstitions? Do you have any superstitions of your own? What hockey superstitions did I overlook that should have been listed here? What is the wildest superstition you have ever heard of? Sound off in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you enjoyed this type of post, please click the like button and give me a follow. Also, if you know someone else who would enjoy this post, please share it with them.

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DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with any of the people, brands, or franchises mentioned herein. Links to their websites are listed for the convenience of readers who desire more information about those people, brands, or franchises.

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