BACK-END BATTLESHIP: A hulking
player who seems to get in opponents' way. Goons (or, to be more
polite,"enforcers") are usually back-end battleships,
but not all back-end battleships are goons.
BALL BEARINGS: Ball bearings
are peas that were served with the standard, much-disliked team-meal
fare of a sirloin steak and a baked potato.
BAG SKATE: Hockey's version of
windsprints. Done in laps, and the number of laps usually depends
on how mad the coach is _ or how out of shape the team is. Usually
done more early in the season than late.
BISCUIT: The puck. You hear it
all the time on ESPN: "He put the biscuit in the basket."
John Halligan, an NHL executive who does a hockey trivia column
for the league's website, says that the term probably was invented
by a sportswriter in the 1940s. "Certain newspapers were
reluctant to overuse the word puck ," he said. Biscuits
were often called "wafers" in the old days, too.
BARN: What Canadian players call
an arena. Arenas in Western Canada often were barns. "They'd
use the rinks in the summer as places for fairs," said Ed
Belfour of the Dalls Stars, a native of Carman, Manitoba, "and
they'd put livestock in there and everything. They'd only be
there for the fair time, but everybody would call them barns."
BLACK ACES: The guys who cheer
the team on. The Black Aces are usually players who do a lot
of bag skates.
BUILDING: See barn. Coaches and
players won't refer to the building they are playing in as an
arena. "They came into our building and stole one from us,"
they will say.
CHICLETS: Teeth. A player who
takes a slapshot in the mouth could soon be "spittin' Chiclets."
Because of the advent of mouthguards, though, most players nowadays
have almost all their Chiclets.
FIVE HOLE: The hole between the
goalie's legs. A goalie who lets a shot trickle between his legs
lets one slip through the five hole. There are two stories of
origin. One is that each of the four corners of the goal are
numbered, with the spot between the goalie's legs the No. 5 spot.
Explanation No. 2: The number five in roman numerals is a "V'.
If you take the "V' and turn it upside down, it looks like
the spot between the goalie's legs.
GRINDER: A tough, unspectacular
player who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job
done. This is usually meant to be a compliment; a "grinder"
is usually an overachiever.
HAT TRICK: Three goals in a game.
When a player scores his third goal, fans usually throw hats
on the ice, but that is not the origin. Halligan says a Toronto
haberdasher gave players in the 1940s free hats if they would
score three goals in a game. "I believe the guy is still
alive," Halligan said. The term, says Halligan, probably
evolved from cricket. Footnote: There is no hockey lingo for
scoring four (or more) goals in a game. "The only thing
you get when scoring four goals in a game," Halligan said,
"is more hats."
HOCKEY CLUB: Hockey players never
refer to their teams. They are almost always "hockey clubs."
The Montreal Canadiens, the most famous NHL team (or club), is
formally the Club de Hockey Canadien. Players rarely refer to
a game as just a game. It is almost always "the hockey game."
IRON LUNG: What hockey players
used to get to games, usually an old bus.
MELON: Head. As in, "Use
MUCKER: See grinder. Someone
willing to plunge into the muck _ do the dirty work.
ODD-MAN RUSH: Like a fastbreak
in basketball. Odd-man rushes are usually either three-on-two,
or two-on-one, which is where the term came from. Clubs that
usually have more odd-man rushes than their opponents usually
PIPE-FITTER: See mucker.
PINCH: Defensemen usually hang
out at their team's blue line. A "pinching" team sends
its defensemen past the red, or center, line, to put pressure
on the opponent's defense. A team thwarting a scoring chance
can put the pinch on its opponent by "pinching" its
forwards into the boards.
PLUMBER: See pipe-fitter. Detroit
Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman often refers to these hard-working
players as having a lot of "sandpaper," because they
display a lot of grit.
PUCK BUNNIES: Groupies. This
term has been around for a long time.
STANDING ON HIS HEAD: An acrobatic
goalie who makes several saves in a row, or has a spectacular
night, is "standing on his head." "It's a goalie
who's unconscious. He's making saves when he's not expected to
SWEATERS: Jerseys. Until the
advent of nylon mesh in the mid-'70s, hockey players actually
wore wool sweaters. You can see them at the Hockey Hall of Fame
TAPE-TO-TAPE: Adjective describing
a perfect pass. The centers of the blades of hockey sticks are
usually wrapped in black tape.
TIC-TAC-TOE: Three tape-to-tape
passes that lead to a goal. Tic-tac-toe goals are usually scored
on odd-man rushes or power plays, because opponents don't have
enough defenders to break up passes.
TOP END: Just the upper echelon
of players. The players in maybe the top 10 percent. Each team
has one or two "top end' players. Top end also can refer
to the best players in a particular skill. .
YOUR BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE
WIDE WORLD: What hockey players call goons. Usually, goons are
referred to as enforcers. Or dummies, as in, "He's a big
dummy: Let him sleep."
THE ROOM: The room is just about
as sacred as a a church, and just about as holy. The room is
vital. The room is a hockey team's dressing room (never locker
room or clubhouse). The room also loosely refers to a team's
chemistry, or aura that surrounds the team, or a team's camaraderie.
There is a saying among hockey
players: Nothing leaves the room. Everything that is said in
a team's dressing room among the team stays within the team.
Reporters and even coaches are invited into the physical room
after games and practices, but never into the emotional inner
sanctum of the room.
The room is not just a place
to exchange ideas, but to mold those ideas into some kind of
a framework. A coach is looking for, in his words, "a room
that is not afraid to express emotions on whatever side of the