Totally random picture choice, but still, sledge hockey rules.

While hockey eventually becomes your “job,” it’s not really work. Maybe it can be physically at times, but guys spend the majority of their time between games competing at other things, because it’s what they enjoy.

Hockey players play a lot of games you may not be aware of. Without further ado, here are my five favourite games (aside from the actual games):

Last Puck

If you’re one of those people who like to get to games early enough to catch warm-ups (as I am), then you’ve probably seen it. At the end of all the drills (usually after half-moon shooting), the back-up goalie takes to the net, a puck is passed out, and everyone surrounds the net trying to score.

If you’re the guy who actually puts the puck in the net (which ends “official” warm-ups), it’s kind of a good luck thing, a way to get the positive vibes flowing. Because of that, it’s sort of every man for himself. Half the time guys are trying to stop each other from scoring.

People often wonder “Why is it taking so long for them to score on a 20-on-0?” Well, that’s because everyone is pulling in different directions.

Lemon Boy

You’ve heard of Juice Boy, or Mustache Boy, or any of the other variations – you have a shootout, and when you score, you’re out. You keep going through the team until you have one guy left, and that loser has to get everyone juice, or grow a mustache for a month, or whatever the decided-upon stakes are.

At the University of Alaska Anchorage, the loser had to stand at center and consume an entire lemon, rind and all, eating it like an apple. The team couldn’t get off the ice until he got it down. Sometimes a nice linemate or roomate would help out with a bite, but it’s usually some awful suffrage (I saw two vomits in my four years at UAA). Ah, hockey. Fun.

The Bag Game

I’m sure the stakes are different in the NHL (and they bus and charter a lot), but anytime you’re somewhere where the hockey bags come out onto a conveyer belt, everybody chips in a buck (and if they don’t, they can’t win), and if your bag (hockey only, not personal) comes out first, you collect the pot.

5 Slappers

So, hitting the net with a slapshot from the blueline is easy. Hitting the net in the air with a slapshot from the blueline is relatively easy (for pros, anyway). But hitting the net with a slapshot in the air from as close to the boards as possible from the blueline five times in a row is hard.

A grouop of defenseman will often stay out after practice, line up five pucks near the boards on the blue line, and play a little game: you cannot leave the ice until you hit the net in the air with a slapshot five straight times. No game develops your shot as well as this one. I joined in on that game a few times and almost got stuck out there until practice the next day.

Keep-away

It sounds like the most basic of basic things, but when you have unlimited ice time as pros do, and you want to develop dangles, what do you do? Stick-handle through pucks? That’s fine for hand-speed and all, but it totally eliminates the all-important human element.

Often you’ll see anywhere from 2-4 guys in the neutral zone (while other guys play games like rebound and three-puck in the zones) trying to maintain possession for as long as possible, with the stipulation that you can’t skate away from guys, you have to skate at them. It’s exhausting and amazing how much it helps your hands. So many players got their mitts from handling the puck on ponds against buddies, and this is the best way to replicate it.

***

While there’s no denying the body takes some abuse over a hockey season, there’s an absurd amound of downtime on both practice and game days. When you have all that time to kill…hey, you gotta do something with it right?

And that’s why hockey players never grow up. Games and fun become your lifestyle. Not such a bad way to make a living, if you’re into that kinda thing.

Comments (10)

  1. Awesome article. I see the games not only a way to kill down time or work on fine tuning some skills…but to break the routine of wake up, practice/morning skate, game, sleep….repeat. I’m sure it helps keep the mind a bit fresher.

    And yes….I’m extremely jealous of al NHL pro’s and their “job”.

  2. The bag game reminds me of one of my favorite stories about Michael Jordan… I’ll let Bill Simmons tell the tale:

    “Back before NBA teams had grasped the rejuvenating power of chartered airplanes, the Bulls were waiting for their luggage in Portland when Jordan slapped a hunny on the conveyor belt: I bet you my bags come out first. Jumping on the incredibly favorable odds, nine teammates happily accepted the wager. Sure enough, Jordan’s bags led the rollout. He cackled with delight as he collected everyone’s money.

    What none of the suckers knew, and what MJ presumably never told them, was that he had bribed a baggage handler to help him out. He didn’t pocket much (a few hundred bucks), and considering his net worth hovered around nine figures at the time, it’s safe to say he didn’t need the extra cash. But that didn’t matter. There was a chance at an easy score, and he took it.”

    Most competitive person ever.

  3. I remember a clip – in fact, you guys may have run it here yourselves – where Pavel Datsyuk played keepaway with a reporter interviewing him, Trevor Thompson. Now, Thompson actually isn’t a bad skater (though not NHL-level), a rec leaguer (so not a complete naif on a rink), and he kept after Datsyuk for a good while. Besides, it’s far the easier task to strip the puck. All he had to do was accidentally knock the thing away or get lucky if Datsyuk lost an edge or mishandled. Datsyuk never did. And he held possession for about 90 seconds before the reporter gave it up.

    Those are some velvety hands right there.

  4. Jeez, Just reading about Lemon Boy has me clenching my jaw.

  5. When Kevin Kaminski was the coach in Long Beach, he suggested a variant of Juice/Lemon Boy using an onion when we were in Idaho for a few days.

    Despite being the coach, Kaminski often participated and rarely lost at juice boy. But, with onion boy, he lost, and downed the whole thing at centre ice. Hours later, you couldn’t believe the smell coming off of him from having eaten it. The onion fumes were coming right through his skin and clothes.

  6. What is the “rebound” game?
    Sounds like a good one!

  7. Last Puck has to be my favorite ” game “. I make sure I’m at the game early enough to watch this

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