A superstition is an unjustified belief that the causation of a certain event is directly correlated with a very specific action. The bad luck that comes with opening an umbrella indoors, walking under a ladder, or walking by a black cat on Friday the 13th, are all real life examples of superstitions as old as time. They say that Hockey Players are the most superstitious athletes, and there is good truth to that. Looking back through history, and talking with some fellow Howies employees. Here are The Best Hockey Superstitions.
The Same Lunch Every Game Day
Josh VanderWel, the Director of Marketing here at Howies Hockey Tape not only does a great job when it comes to branding, merchandising, and social media. He is also the backbone of the Howies Men’s League Hockey team in-between the pipes on Thursday nights. VanderWel is very superstitious when it comes to lunchtime on game days. He has the exact same lunch - Every. Single. Week. As a result, he is a “Signature Member” on the Chick Fil A mobile app. If you drive past the Chick Fil A on 37 in Kentwood, MI on a Thursday afternoon, there is a very good chance you will see Josh’s car sitting in a “Mobile Pickup” spot.
The Playoff Beard
It’s the middle of May. Over half of the NHL teams are enjoying their off season out on the Golf Course. The remaining 8 teams are battling every other night, playing through injuries, and laying it all on the line. The more they win, the bigger the goals are, the better the cellys are, and the sweeter the wins feel. With each win, they are one step closer to the cup. And with each Win, the beards grow a little longer. The playoff beard dates all the way back to the 1980’s when the New York Islanders won 4 straight Stanley Cups. It was the staple of their team during that dynasty. The playoff beard is still around today, as teams refuse to shave their face until they are eliminated from playoff contention. It is one of the best traditions in sports!
Not Stepping On The Logo
If you have played hockey at any level where you have your own locker room, then you already know where this one is going. As a player, coach, medical staff, or anyone. You should never step on the logo in the center of your locker room. That logo represents your team, your teammates, your fans, and your pride. It should never be disrespected by being stepped on.
Putting Your Gear On The Same Way
I have never thought of myself as a superstitious player until I began writing this blog post. I was thinking about my pre game rituals from the time I was a mite until now. I couldn't think of many regimens that I have followed to a tee on gameday. Until I realized the way I get dressed. Whenever I am putting on equipment that comes in pairs (socks, skates, elbows, gloves etc) I always go left before right. It is something I have always done, and I have no explanation as to why. I can even recall a few times putting my right skate on first, and then taking it off to throw my left one on because it just didn't feel right.
Octopus Thrown on The Ice at Red Wings Games
This is not only one of the oldest superstitions in the NHL, but one of the strangest as well. If you are a Detroit Red Wings Fan (like most of the poor folks in this office) then you are very familiar with this superstition. Back in 1952, the Red Wings were 8 wins away from the Cup. The Cusimano brothers, Pete & Jerry, owned a fish market at the time. They thought it would be a good idea to take octopi (I think that's the plural to octopus) into Olympia stadium, and throw them on the ice. The 8 tentacles on the octopus symbolized the number of wins the Wings needed to take home the cup. They won 8 straight. This has since grown into the one of the most unique superstitions in sports, and can be seen if the Red Wings are still playing come mid to late April. With the Wings four spots behind the Penguins for the last Wild Card spot halfway through the season, I think the Octopi might be safe again this year!
Baby Powder on the Twig
You can thank Wayne Gretzky for this great NHL Superstition. The Great One was known to put baby powder on the ends of his sticks before a game. Clearly this worked out very well for him. When asked about why he does it, Gretzky responded “I think it’s essentially a matter of taking care of what takes care of you.”
Listening To The Same Song Just Before Stepping On The Ice
The speaker in the locker room is a staple of Hockey Culture. From Mites, to the Pros you can find players listening to music to hype them up before the big game. It is very common to find teams that play one last song before leaving the locker room. It is often a song that brings the squad together, and gets them ready to go to war with their teammates. Surprisingly, it is not always a hype song. Growing up, I have been a part of teams who had everything from AC/DC & Dropkick Murphys to Katy Perry & Taylor Swift. One of my most memorable “last songs” was Drops of Jupiter by Train. Having a “last song” with your team is one of the best experiences in hockey, as it will tie together all the great memories of an entire season into 3 minutes.
These are just a few of the great superstitions in hockey. There are several more I failed to mention, and even more that I probably have not heard of. It is one of the many things that make the sport of hockey so amazing!