By Nick Craddock
This Canadian enjoys hockey. No way! Am I reinforcing a stereotype? You bet.
Move beyond your initial surprise and realize that in my heyday I was exactly like ‘The Great One,’ Wayne Gretzky, except for the talent.
Despite my difficulties both on and off the ice—tying skate laces is no easy task when your hands are so cold that your fingers have turned violet—my fellow countrymen and I always seem to get an extra pep in our step this time of year. The pep almost gets in the way of the step, making walking with skates a trial.
With the calendar rolling into October, it means that it’s time for Canadians to fill up on berries and seal blubber for our winter hibernations, and the start of the NHL season.
Interestingly, most hockey players don’t seem all that different from the common person. After all, would any of you be able to tell that I was a talentless Gretzky if you saw me strolling along campus?
Fear not, there are certain giveaways that will give you a clue that you might be in a presence of a hockey player.
The trademark toothless grin: Hockey players have a penchant for missing teeth. If you see someone with one too many molars missing they may have taken a puck to the face. Or they might have a serious addiction to crystal methamphetamine. Hockey players and tweakers both tend to smile a lot, but for very different reasons.
The endearing, if not stupid, nicknames: Listen to any interview and hockey players tend to have nicknames for their teammates. The formula for creating these nicknames is simple: add “-y”or “-er” to a part of the surname of the player. So, I could be “Craddy.” I can already feel the camaraderie.
No shaves, homie: Superstition dictates that hockey players don’t shave so long as their team remains in the playoffs. So from April to June (playoff time) there are a few bearded Joaquin Phoenix look-alikes skating around. Fun fact: Phoenix keeps a beard because he doesn’t want his chin to get cold.
Smell of a champion: Hockey players tend to have a musty odor because pads in a small dressing room tend to hold stenches. However, if a person has all their teeth, doesn’t have a cheesy nickname and sports no facial hair, they just smell of BO. It has nothing to with hockey, but their inability to discover Old Spice (cue Old Spice whistle jingle).
Small-town pedigree: Everyone knows the best hockey players come from places like Moose Factory, Ontario. Podunk towns are good for hockey because skating is the healthier of the two options to stay warm. The other is to have an IV of hot cocoa for the 20-plus hours of darkness in a day.
Male pattern baldness: The helmet must rub the hair right off. Luckily, my lack of a hockey career enabled me to keep my golden locks. I’d hazard a guess and say one-fifth of a hockey player’s career earnings are spent on Rogaine.
So, some hockey stereotypes do ring true. Others don’t, like when Sarah Palin said the only difference between a hockey mom and pitbull is lipstick. I’ve seen some pitbulls wear rouge, but never lipstick.