*Hint: it’s not hard.
Hockey is a game of finesse, speed, toughness—but also of respect and honor. It is also the only sport where fighting plays an important role in keeping players in line. There’s no hurling beanballs from 60 feet away or throwing a stray punch on the basketball court before being immediately pulled apart and thrown out of the game.
If you’re disrespectful on the ice, you will have to stand by your actions by getting either pummeled in the face or defending your honor while the referee pockets his whistle until the gladiators are punched out. And then you get to rest for five minutes on your own in the box to reflect on the success or failure of your bout.
Fisticuffs play an important part of the game where a fight can completely tilt the action on a guy with a C-sweater connecting with a good haymaker. There are certain things that one can do that will immediately get you punched in the face by the opposing team’s enforcer. Some teams keep a fourth line roster spot for a goon who mostly rides the lumber, only to see the ice when someone is needed to drop the gloves and prove a point.
If you ever find yourself on the ice, these parameters will help guide you in case you want to throw down.
MESS WITH THE GOALIE
Goalies are quirky superstitious weirdos who many people have to pretend to like. But your goalie is your backbone and a competitor’s stick tap to the pads of your netminder will get them cross-checked in the jaw. Defending a man who can do splits may feel awkward at first, but all hesitancy goes out the door when you see a short stop snow shower spray in that flexible highlight reel’s mug. A shot just a beat too late after a whistle is another big no-no that is sure to get you chased down.
SHOWBOAT IN A VISITING BARN
This one is a slow brewing method, but it’s sure to get your number called out on the home team’s bench. Showboat after a goal on the road and you’re going to have to celebrate a scrap in addition to your goal. Nothing shows versatility like a Gordie Howe hat trick—goal, assist, and fight.
MESS WITH A STAR
If you go too low, too high, too late, or too close to the bench on another teams’ sniper, you will have to keep your head on a swivel the rest of the game. A team’s star player is never expected to scrape the knuckles, so know that if you throw a hit above your pay grade, an enforcer will be there to put you back in your place. Not many Gretzky’s have their own McSorley in the modern game, but people still expect you to respect the games’ best.
THE STINK PALM
I don’t believe the deepest bowels of Dante’s Inferno smell as foul as hockey equipment. The pungent odor sometimes is also accompanied by a taste that can ruin your next meal. This smell seems to concentrate itself in one place—the palm of a hockey glove. If you ever are in the mood to instigate something, putting that stink palm in another player’s face is as bad as it gets. And that smell doesn’t come off either. Sticks on your nose for the rest of the game, if not longer. The stink palm is the equivalent of a war crime in some countries, so it is an immediate request to get punched in the face.
Now that you have this valuable information in case you ever find yourself in a professional hockey game, I hope you use it well.