If there’s one thread that binds all sports together it’s superstitions. Jumping over the chalk base line while leaving the field, dribbling the ball a specific number of times at the free throw line, repeating a pre-shot routine on the golf course, holding hands with youngsters as you head onto the pitch, taping your ankles or fingers just so before kickoff, whatever. All have their place in their games’ lore.
On Tuesday, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins broke with tradition when the Pittsburgh captain dared Lady Superstition to exact her revenge by not only touching the Eastern Conference championship Prince of Wales Trophy, but picking it up, taking a photo with his assistants and having his teammates touch the former bauble as they left the ice.
If the Penguins go on to beat the Red Wings (sorry, Blackhawks fans) in the Stanley Cup final, it could put an end to the Don’t-Touch-The-Conference-Trophy phobia (score one for the realists). But for now it remains a tried-and-true hockey superstition.
With that in mind we offer THN’s Top 10 hockey superstitions.
10. Tape two
As the most important instrument in all of hockeydom, the stick has been doctored and babied for decades. With the coming of composite sticks, the doctoring has slowed. But players still insist on taping their sticks in a specific manner.
9. The cookie toss
Glenn Hall is one of the NHL’s all-time greatest goalies; 502 consecutive games in an era before goalie masks were the norm, three Vezina Trophies, 407 wins. But Hall vomited before every game and believed he’d lose if didn’t.
8. The march
On every team, there’s an order to which players leave the dressing room for the ice; whether it’s the captain first, the starting goalie last or a veteran tapping each player with his stick, it happens the same way every game.
7. Gearing up
Every player has his own rhyme and reason for the seemingly random practice. Do it just so or start all over.
6. One final stop
The legendary Ken Dryden would never leave the net during warmup until he had made one final save. But playing for the powerhouse Canadiens in the 1970s meant that was not always easy. Larry Robinson picked up on it and took to making sure Dryden had an easy one to stop if the goalie was having problems. But Dryden figured Robinson out and began to work even harder to make that final save before Robinson lobbed an easy one his way.
5. OK, but it’ll cost you a buck
At the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Canada won men’s hockey gold for the first time since 1952. And at center ice was buried a Canadian one-dollar coin. Burying a ‘loonie’ at center ice for international competitions has since become a superstition, albeit one other countries are not overly enthralled with.
4. The tobacco toss
In no way are we advocating smoking – not that you could now in most arenas anyway – but there were few more masculine-looking superstitions than Stan Mikita tossing his cigarette over his left shoulder as he exited the tunnel for the ice at the old Chicago Stadium.
3. Conversing with iron
Goalies are weird. Period. And Patrick Roy is one of the weirdest in recent memory. He had a number of superstitions, including carrying on running conversations with every goalie’s best on-ice friends, the goal posts.
2. Grow baby, grow
It’s believed the Islanders began the playoff beard superstition during their Stanley Cup run in the 1980s. It worked, too. They won four Cups in four years, the last in 1983.
1. Don’t touch that
There’s only one trophy teams want. And to touch another en route to the Cup is anathema until (gasp!) this year. We’ll know soon if this superstition is proven false.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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