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Loose Change: What I meant to say is…

The smell of hockey (a.k.a ratty old shin pads) is in the air. You can feel the excitement building in the three NHL cities that actually make money.

Training camps are open. Man the guns. Batten down the hatches. Group hug.

Thankfully we’ll be given daily - sometimes hourly – reports on camp progress, which should go a long way towards alleviating those fears you have at work about those downsizing rumours you’ve been hearing about. Knowing that Cam Barker has “really improved his cardio this year” should help you get a good night’s sleep, even though you happen to be doing it now from a park bench.

Of course, the ugly stepsister in this whole tryout process is the way we’re fed this vital information. Coaches always talk in code. They never get straight to the point and you never get a direct answer to a direct question. You’d stand a better chance of getting bombing coordinates from a legless monkey than actually deciphering what a coach means when he says, “Jim’s a special project for us.”

Lucky for you, I know the code. In my 93 years (roughly) in the hockey business I’ve been able to come up with a system (patent pending) that translates this type of thing using nothing more than a tape recorder, an abacus and a lemon (quartered). Exclusive to THN readers and members of my pagan cult Happy Friendship Group, I offer to you now, accurate (and free) translations to some of the more perplexing quotes and blurbs you’ll hear over the next few weeks of training camp.

Your education begins here, like, right now. For example...

When you hear:

“I like the makeup of this team.”

It translates to: We really can’t hit or fight, which I think has a lot to do with that unexpected Revlon sponsorship.


“Patterson needs a couple of more weeks before he’s game ready.”

Translation: Patterson’s a whale. He sweats when he blinks.

“We need to be able to play in our end this year.”

Translation: We have 18 defensemen on the roster and only three forwards. My bad.

“I like what he brings to this team.”

Translation: Dude can’t skate a lick, but I just can’t say “no” to a guy who bakes muffins like that.

“We expect big things from him this year.”

Translation: He claims he can eat nine chalupas in under three minutes. We play in Phoenix on the 17th, so…

“I think we’re going to surprise some people this year.”

Translation: MacGregor. It’s his 39th birthday in November and he has no idea we got him this awesome spa weekend.

“This team has a lot of character.”

Translation: ...which is not so great on the ice, but, as for our Christmas pageant, well now…

“We have some big holes to fill.”

Translation: Some idiot put vodka in the water bottles. The dressing room is a mess. Drywall dust everywhere...

“This guy is ready for the NHL right now.”

Translation: It’s either him or that whale, Patterson.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every other Thursday in the summer only on Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at


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