Things you might not know about hockey …

1. Hockey stick tape is a perfect way to strap on a plastic bag to protect plaster on a wounded dog’s leg, when storms sweep into town as you’re about to go to work.

Fly Dog shows off quality stick-tape veterinary work.

Kittens and I travelled bravely to the far outskirts of Chicago to buy hockey gear, back in October, and went nuts on the multi-coloured tape, buying red, green, blue and yellow, because our hockey styling simply can’t be constrained in the Icehouse’s options of black tape, or white (and now pink).

Fly Dog the Wounded But Still Magnificent (snapped Achilles tendon on Christmas day; at least six weeks off the ice) thinks the leg looks cool. Everybody’s happy.

 2. Hockey players are dumb.

As it stands, seven members of the Detroit Red Wings roster have suffered serious facial injuries this year, mostly from pucks hitting them in the unprotected face.

There have been plenty of facial stitches, but also a broken cheekbone to defenceman Ian White and a broken jaw to Patrick Eaves, who, at last report, was still sipping food through a straw, his entire jaw wired shut.

The latest victim is an 18-year-old prospect, Ryan Spoule, who took a deflected puck to the face in an Ontario Hockey League game and has now had plates inserted into his jaw.

And yet pretty much every NHL player, apart from the goalies, continues to play without a Perspex or wire face guard. The most they’ll wear is a small Perspex visor vaguely covering their eyes and there’s even debate about that, because, you know, it’s kind of sissy. (Although at least things have moved on from the bad old – read, fucking crazy – days where even goalies didn’t have face guards, back when the world was in black and white.)

Back in the day: goalies with no face protection.

Hear me say, here and now, that I will not be seen in a game situation without a full face mask. I’m far too pretty to take a rubber puck to the face at speed, and anyway, eating through a straw for weeks would get in the way of my biscuit consumption.

3. The Winter Classic has a precedent

Over the past few years, the NHL’s signature Winter Classic game – where two top teams play an official match outdoors, usually at a baseball stadium (The Wings kicked the Blackhawks at Wrigley Field a few years ago: oh yeah!) is gaining momentum every year, with huge coverage of the Rangers victory over the Flyers yesterday.

But there is a precedent to this whole thing. Apparently, in February, 1954, the Detroit Red Wings played an exhibition match outdoors against inmates from the Marquette Branch prison. I shit you not. Red Wings v Jailbirds.

So how did that go? The Wings led 18-0 at the end of the first period and graciously everybody forgot to keep an ongoing score for the remaining two periods.

Which makes the prisoners luckier than Australia’s first ever team to contest the Winter Olympics, back in 1960. Our heroes scored nine goals in the Olympic tournament, at Squaw Valley. They conceded 83 goals in six games. When five rings are involved, everybody keeps score.

4. The Hockey Gods are bastards

Let it be known that the Red Wings have not lost a single game at home since Will, Mack and I sat through three straight losses at the Joe, in late October/early November. The team has now won 12 straight games at home, raining goals. During the stretch where we watched them stink things up, they averaged one goal per game.

Comments

  1. I have a photo in an old hockey book from 1972 (which I have been planning to give to you for at least a year, but as I couldn’t find it, I haven’t, but I found it yesterday, so now I can) of a goalie with no facemask. Even then, back when we played without helmets, I thought he was nuts.

  2. Ken Baker says:

    Nick,
    Saw your post on facebook. Sorry you didnt see the Wings win one while you were in the States. I’m a Red Wing fan too, go to as many game as I can. Made it to 12 last season, 3 of them were out of town…. Just saw the Buffalo game Monday, we really dominated! No one was gonna beat the boys that night. My wife and I were fortunate to go to Australia and New Zealand back in 1998. Unbelieavable trip of a lifetime for us as well. Hope to make it back one day. You Aussies are very fun and friendly!! Just wanted to let you know the team is rocking these days, hopefully not peaking too early in the season!! Hope you make it back to Hockeytown someday…. let me know. Go Red Wings~!!
    Ken Baker…. I’ll friend you on facebook.

    • G’day Ken. Thanks for writing. I’m glad you enjoyed Australia so much – then again, I have NEVER met an American who didn’t love it here. Happily, I’m just as enthusiastic about the USA, and the midwest, so I definitely plan to return. Go Wings! and Yes, I hope the team, and Jimmy, can keep this level of excellence and energy all the way to when it really matters.

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