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 (like a crowd around a blackjack table at new online casinos). 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 your melon!"
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 win.
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 make saves."
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 in Toronto.
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 fence."