Very Superstitious, Writing's On The Wall

Jim McIsaac

Across the SB Nation NHL network this week, NBC Sports is sponsoring a series about playoff hockey and superstitions. Here's our contribution:

Hockey players are a weird bunch, especially come playoff time. Be it having to tape their sticks just the right way or throwing up before the start of every game or even walking out of the locker room in the same order; saying hockey players are quirky is a bit of an understatement. Goalies seem to be the weirdest of the bunch and not just for willing to stand in front of 100 mph slap shots for living either. Former Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden would never leave the ice after warm ups without making one final save. Patrick Roy goes down in the history books as one of the greatest goalies to every stand between the pipes. But he is also one of the goofiest, because he used to have running conversations with the goal posts.

The playoffs bring out some of the biggest superstitions in hockey. It starts with the tradition of the "playoff beard," which is believed to have been started by the Islanders in 1980. You can't argue with the results as they went on to win four straight Stanley Cups. Teams also don't like touching the hardware either. Most players believe it is bad luck to touch the Stanley Cup until you have won it. Teams will also avoid touching the Prince of Whales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl that are awarded to the winners of each Conference Final. Some players believe that if you touch the trophy your team will not will the Cup. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews certainly believed in this superstition back in 2010.

But it's not just hockey players who have their quirks, many of us fans do as well. Some fans have to sit in the same spot on the couch at home or the same stool at the bar for every game. I know people who have to buy their beer from the same vendor at the United Center or else it will bring bad luck to the Hawks. God forbid someone says shutout on Twitter, during the 3rd period of a game, when Corey Crawford has yet to give up a goal. And why is that every time Pat Foley mentions an opposing player is on a cold streak, that said player scores the game winning goal that night? My personal superstition has to do with my jerseys. If I wear my Kris Versteeg jersey on a given night and the Hawks win, I can not change jerseys until the magic has worn off of that one. Once they lose again, then I change to the Nick Leddy or Toews sweater. Am I the only one who does that?

Even though both players and fans really believe these things will change the outcome of a game, none of it is true. In a seven game series the best team always comes out on top. That is what makes the Stanley Cup playoffs the greatest event in all of sports. It's not stick tape or beards that gets a team on to the next round. It is the team that plays the best over the course of seven games that lives to see another day. Might not be the team with the better record, but it will always be the team that plays the best. I don't believe in superstitions, but I will admit they are pretty fun at times.

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