Archive for the ‘Inside the Dressing Room’ Category

I'm not exactly sure why, but a pic of Craig Conroy playing the Avs seems like a fit for this post.

I’m not exactly sure why, but a pic of Craig Conroy playing the Avs seems like a fit for this post.

My morning post on J.S. Giguere’s comments about his team (something along the lines of “guys have mailed it in and that’s frustrating”) took me to Twitter, where I found myself in a few discussions about the concept of character in a dressing room, if it matters, what affect it has, and so on.

I don’t have a black-and-white answer here, and neither do you, but hopefully I can shed some light on the subject by sharing one of the first things I ever wrote, a post called Chemistry Experiment #39, about a teammate of mine when I was with the Utah Grizzlies, Travis Rycroft (brother or Mark, the ex-Avs player who now does commentary for the team).

The post was written on January 22nd, 2009 about a month after I broke my jaw playing for the Idaho Steelheads, so I was holed up in my apartment in Boise in wires. Read the rest of this entry »

"Preperation" used to be a little different for hockey players.

(Throughout the season, I’ll periodically be re-purposing relevant columns I put together in the past, given that there’s only so many ways I can describe specific events in the life of a hockey player. In 2010 I wrote the below post on how players prepare themselves for games on back-to-back days for The Hockey News. In a shortened season, taking care of yourself is more important than ever. )


Most hockey players are aware of the phenomenon that is the inability to sleep after a game. The only thing different in rec leagues is that there’s usually one or 30 more cans of beer left in the dressing room.

For professionals, back-to-back games are common and getting a decent night’s sleep can be essential to playing well the second night. Since you play in less than 24 hours, things like sleeping pills and alcohol aren’t exactly the greatest idea. You’re forced to just deal with it as best you can, which usually means staring at the ceiling and re-hashing the wide open net you missed in the first period.

A light spin on the bike, a big meal and maybe a single beer are usually a decent start towards being ready to sleep – still, it’s going to take until well after one in the morning for those things to kick in. Because of that reality, you have to be sure to take extra care of the other factors that affect whether you feel fresh or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Since I left hockey as a career and took to writing, I’ve covered plenty of “in the room” stuff that some fans may not know about it, including a seven part series that sums up travel, practice, game days and so on. I wrote them when my audience was smaller, so I occasionally get requests from people who’d like to know a little bit more about the ____ part of hockey. In turn, I’ll be sprinkling them in periodically throughout the season. Seeing all the success from rookies in the early part of the season, and a lot of the tilts right off the opening faceoffs, I felt like today was a good time to run an explanation of how “money on the board” works. This originally ran in The Hockey News in September of 2009, hope you enjoy.


For two decades Pete Rose has been blackballed for gambling on his own baseball team, which seems a little severe, given that professional hockey players literally do it every single game.

It’s an accepted part of dressing-room culture, like heaping verbal abuse on the nearest human in range. The difference between Charlie Hustle and the hockey hustle is that when hockey players put “Money on the Board,” everybody wins.

Before each game, a few players will saunter up to the dry-erase board in silence and put their jersey number down, with a dollar amount beside it. It means “If we win, I’ll donate this number of dollars to the team pot.”

#12 – $50

For most games, there are three or four numbers on the list. For bigger games, the list of participants gets longer. If the game is big enough, even the coaches might put some money on the board. Read the rest of this entry »

(Image: Associated Press)

With hockey finally under way again, I can’t help but remember just how sloppy the first few weeks of practices usually are. I originally wrote the post below “Ode to a Drill-Wrecker” for Hockey, a site you’ll likely enjoy checking out. There’s that one guy on every team…


The Drill-Wrecker will always have a special place in my heart, now that he no longer possesses the ability to ruin my legs and lungs via bag skate.

Looking back, I can’t help but laugh.

He starts the drill in the wrong direction.  He passes to the wrong line.  His head snaps around looking for some information, some advice, some help.  Quite simply: he’s lost.

Yet, the most endearing quality of the Drill-Wrecker is his inability to not recognize he’s about to destroy the drill, like a puppy about to bite a porcupine.  He drifts to the front of the line, while his teammates who are wise enough to recognize that they’re uncertain of the drill slide to the back.

He sees something shiny in the stands, and yet more teammates slide behind him.  They know if they’re not positive about the drill that they shouldn’t do it until they see someone have a go at it first.  They wrongly assume that those who understand will naturally step to the front…right?

But lo, our drill-wrecker still stares on, his mind an ADD-cluttered mess of slide whistles, fireworks and applesauce. Read the rest of this entry »

With the lockout still in full effect, Backhand Shelf will be running a series of posts put together shortly after my playing career. There are plenty of good anecdotes that, at the time, were minimally read. First, from HockeyPrimetime – the joy of team travel.


Travelling is a major part of professional sports, and can be an exhausting and draining experience.

I’ve always loved travelling without a team, because what’s not to love?  You get that mall-style Chinese food, read a book, listen to music, take a nap, and have a few pints.  It’s a near perfect lazy day.  You just need to learn how to cope with the stresses so the day goes smooth – show up early, know your gate, pack light and don’t pay attention to anything beyond that.

With a team, however, you’re in a stuffy suit.  You generally can’t have a beer (especially on the way to a city you play in the next night).  You’re surrounded by your idiot teammates.  And worst of all, coaches are staring at you thinking (and occasionally saying) “What’s he laughing at?  If I turned the puck over four times in the neutral zone yesterday I certainly wouldn’t be so happy”.

And something always seems to go wrong.  A smooth travel day is a gift from above when you have 30 people connecting with more gear than a travelling circus, needs buses, and has to wait for arena’s to be opened at three a.m. to drop off the equipment.

I asked some pro’s, past and present, to relate an example of just how bad team travel can be: Read the rest of this entry »

This morning I woke up and read a column by Chris Chase in USA Today on the fact that football players Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe asked for an autograph and picture from NFL great Peyton Manning, respectively. This was an hour after the game where Manning threw two touchdowns to lead his Denver Broncos past their Kansas City Chiefs.

The column includes the following quote from former Chief Rich Baldinger, who had this to say when asked if he’d have ever done something like that in his playing days:

“No,” he replied. “I don’t understand it at that moment. They were smiling and laughing after the loss like that today. I just think it just goes to show what this team’s about. I don’t know if winning’s really that important.”

Chase notes that Charles ran for over a 100 yards during the game (psst, hockey people, that’s good), and Dwayne Bowe had four grabs that averaged over 10 yards per (that’s fine, not great). They played well, in sum.

I had a coach in junior hockey whom I’ve mentioned on this site a number of times who was in Baldinger’s corner: when you lose, you have to mope and pout and not talk because if you’re able to smile you obviously don’t give a shit, regardless of how you played. Read the rest of this entry »

There are a number of things to be excited about when HBO drops its 2nd NHL edition of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic tonight. Because of that, expectations are unthinkably high, and this post won’t likely do anything to lessen them.

As a guy who’s spent a lifetime in dressing rooms at a variety of levels, there are certain things I’ll be watching for. I’ve shared them below so you can too.

Read the rest of this entry »