Superstitions in sports. We all know they exist. In fact, many of us fans have our own superstitions we follow. Some people wear the same jersey on game day. Some make sure to have the same type of meal before an important game. Or some might be like me and stare at the wall trying to infuse all of our hatred at the hockey gods into one solitary point so that we can somehow use it to gain control over them and pay them back for all the crap they’ve pulled on us Canucks fans so for one moment, one measly moment, they can feel the anguish we’ve felt, year after year after…..
Sorry. I lost control there for a moment. The point is, we all have our odd ways of dealing with something that is out of our control. Superstitions allow us to feel like we have an extra edge on the competition, and in a game of inches, every little bit helps, whether we’re playing or not. And sports players are the same way. Many of them have their own little routines that they do that make them feel more comfortable about their chances of performing well on that night.
Some of these superstitions are well known. Pelle Lindbergh, a goalie for the Flyers in the mid 80’s, would notoriously only take a sip from his drink between periods if there were exactly two ice ice cubes in the cup. (http://www.cbc.ca/sports/columns/top10/superstition.html) . Patrick Roy famously would talk to his posts, and amongst other things, would never step on the blue line or red line. (http://www.cbc.ca/sports/columns/top10/superstition.html) . Wayne Gretzky would make sure he put on his equipment the same way every time. (http://media.fans.nhl.com/_NHLs-Weirdest-Superstitions/blog/393840/111820.html). And Brendan Shanahan, Mr. Shanaban himself, well he had a soft spot for Madonna songs on game day. (http://media.fans.nhl.com/_NHLs-Weirdest-Superstitions/blog/393840/111820.html) .
But there are so many more superstitions that are not as well known. Superstitions from a lot of former and current Canucks. Superstitions of current enemies of the Canucks. And because I love you guys so much, I broke journalistic protocol and went undercover and I am willing to share these superstitions with you. The players asked me if it was off the record and I said “Yes” but I was shaking my head “No”. Shaking the head supersedes verbal agreement according to my buddy Dinos (circa recess, grade 2, 1989.) So with that being said, I present to you, some of the quirkier superstitions present in hockey today.
Steve has an odd superstition. He doesn’t put on his gear in a certain order. He doesn’t wear the same pair of gloves all season. No, what Steve Bernier does is he refuses to score on empty nets. I bet you’re feeling PRETTY silly now about screaming at him missing all those tap ins for the Canucks. “It’s something I pick up in da jun’yore” explains Steve. “I missed an open net one day, and den after dat, I get deux goals off of my skaters, and then I think to myself, ‘Steve, you need to miss da net all da time to get der goals’. So now anytime I see da empty net for da tap in, I shoot the puck, I shoot it wide, no, and I make sure dat my skaters are in da crease so my team mate can bank in da puck off of me.”
When asked if it wouldn’t make more sense to get the easy goals instead of waiting for future potential goals, Steve reflected for a few moments, than began to gently cry. Then he asked for any spare change I might have on me.
Kyle Wellwood was always an enigma when he played for the Canucks, both on and off the ice. So it stands to reason that his superstition is a bit on the eccentric side. Was it a food related superstition? Did he have to ensure that he ate 12 pounds of spaghetti and 13 hotdogs on game day? No, that was just a personal choice he made. No, Kyle’s odd superstition was found out by @ncfcanuck , who once found himself in the Canucks locker room while trying to track down Dan Murphy to revoke Dan’s journalism degree. What @ncfcanuck saw was Wellwood applying a butterfly to his left shoulder pad. Something he does before every game apparently.
Knowing Kyle, surely this must be symbolic of something greater. Is it a sign for world peace? Is it a sign of mankind’s eternal struggle to know its own purpose? Or maybe it’s a sign of a desire of seeing world peace in his time? We decided to track him down, so we could ask him what it meant.
“Oh. It doesn’t mean anything. I just use it to cover up a mustard stain on my shoulder pads.” explained Kyle. Sometimes it’s the obvious answer folks.
Dion Phaneuf is a an animal on the ice. Assuming you’re not talking about him playing defence. Or scoring much. But as for hitting people, he can certainly do that. Made famous by Pierre McGuire’s schoolgirl scream of “THAT’S A DOUBLE DION!!!” during the World Juniors tournament, Dion Phaneuf has a reputation for being a player that can dish out the pain. Well, it turns out his superstition is a bit odd in that he likes to take the pain before a game instead of handing it out. Apparently on game day, Dion gathers up his team mates, and asks them to beat the hell out of him. With no mercy. He basically asks them to beat him to within an inch of his life. Why does he do this you ask? Let’s ask the man himself.
“Well, I just want the boys to know what it feels like to beat someone, you know? We don’t do a lot of winning around here, so I just thought it would be a good moral boost for some of the guys on the team to at least know what it feels like to beat someone.”
Well played Dion, well played.
Roberto Luongo has long been a polarizing figure in the Vancouver Sports market. One day he is a hero, the next day, a villain. You never know when he is being “boo’d” or “Luu’d!” anymore. When Luongo first arrived in Vancouver, this sort of derision from the fans probably would have rattled our ex-captain. When he first arrived, he was like a scared little kitten. Unsure if he was going to sign here, a bit embarrassed that someone asked him if he was going to have to “compete” with Dan Cloutier for the starting job, and so unable to let go of Florida that he had a panther tail painted on the back of his first mask here.
But oh how times have changed. Luongo has mentally toughened himself up over the last couple of years to the point where not much bothers him anymore. Had Luongo gone through “Pumping my tires”-gate when he first arrived here, hell, he’d probably be in a mental ward or at the very least, be a mediocre Batman villain. So what caused this surprising turnaround for Luongo? His gameday superstition.
“I play NHL 12 with Mark Lee, and we play against my virtual self. We just say the nastiest things we can about me. I’m talking vile vile vile stuff. We just score goal after goal on virtual me, and just trash talk the entire time. Most of the time I start to cry afterwards due to some of the dark stuff that is said about me. But compared to that, what you guys in the press say is a cake walk.”
When asked why Mark Lee was always there to play with him, Luongo offered up this explanation. “Nobody is better at scoring with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins than Mark Lee, let me tell you. That guy seems to know Hopkins inside and out. So I always bring him along because I know he’s going to get a ton of goals with him on me.”
Dale Weise, one of the fresh faces on the Canucks this year-
“I like to sleep with pretty girls. Then I hold up a puck to celebrate.”
Oh. Ok, Dale was so excited to tell us his superstition he jumped the gun-
“Superstition? What the hell is a superstition? I just like to sleep with all the pretty ladies of Vancouver. Get in on the forcheck. Go to the net hard. Bang in the rebounds. If you get what I mean.”
Ah Dale, yes, we get it-
“I like pretty ladies.”
You sure do Dale. You sure do.
(A photo I didn’t have to photoshop. Thank you Patrick.)
Patrick Kane. A long time nemesis of the Canucks. He is a cocky player but he has the talent to back it up. So what could his superstition possibly be? What is it that gets Patrick Kane going on game day?
“Shirts. HATE THEM. I despise shirts. I wish I could burn all the shirt in the world. So I usually take my shirt off on game day and find a girl in a flannel shirt. Oddly enough, even though I hate wearing shirts, I love girls in flannel shirts. I find it comforting….Like they’re a lumberjack who is always going to look out for me and take care of me. I usually nap in their laps for about 30 minutes, then go back to the rink. Then I burn some more shirts.”
Patrick Kane. He hates shirts.
These are just a few of the superstitions I discovered on my recent investigation. I have many more to share in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for future installments of “Hockey Player Superstitions