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|The Hockey Dressing Room: A Playground For Men|
|Written by Justin Bourne|
|Saturday, 09 January 2010 00:00|
I pulled my first hockey prank at about six years old. I'm suspicious though, that I may have in fact been just a pawn in someone else's practical joke.
I was in the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room after a game (or practice, what do I know, I was six), and Luc Robitaille was heading into the shower. Apparently, under my own power, I put baby powder in the blow dryer he used to give himself that oh-so-natural, windswept look of the 1980's. Needless to say, Lucky Luc headed back into the shower after turning it on.
Hockey players think of themselves as funny, and with good cause – they are. But the constant prankfest can get a tad frustrating for most guys. Unfortunately, there's always two or three guys who find the little gags perpetually hilarious.
You go to pull down your helmet from above your stall, and you pull down the full cup of water hidden beneath it. You pick up your stick and someone has heated up the butt-end, pulled it out, put pennies in, and replaced it. Or worse, filled it with water so it weighs more than the pieces of lumber players used in the 1950's.
After practice, the legs of your jeans are sewn shut. You know how much time that takes? Oh and look – your shoes are taped to the roof. How'd they even do that? Your number is on the board requesting "a pair of balls" from the trainer, your windshield wipers are standing up, and you're 10 seconds from swinging on a guy. And that's just another day. There's a good chance tomorrow a player will be unaware that a teammate put clear sock-tape on the bottom of his blades, and he'll damn-near crack his skull on the ice the second he steps out there.
The most common (by far) prank is the shoe check. It happens at team meals, generally to the exact person who's going to react the harshest. And if that guy's not available, the nearest possible sucker will do.
It doesn't take long to figure out where to sit when the team is out to eat. Ask any pro, college or junior player, they'll tell you how to sit to avoid a shoe-check. Back to the wall, preferably a corner, preferably at the end of the table. One guy goes right under the table with a full spoon of ketchup or any other sauce, others divert the victim's attention with polite conversation, then the prankster drops the messy stuff on the poor guy's shoe. Hilarious, I know.
Mission completed, utensils on glasses start clinking, and everybody checks their feet. It's caused fights, immediate retribution, long-term vengeance and permanent relationship tears. None, in the history of shoe checks, were as good as the one my mother – yes, my mother – pulled on Les Reaney (now of the CHL's Rapid City Rush).
Triple whammy prank: 1) A mom did it. 2) It was a direct attack, no sneaking. 3) She was the distractor as well as the perpetrator.
After immense peer pressure, and an "I could do that," Mom took a loaded spoonful of ketchup, played the caring, loving mother, and leaned in to ask Les how things were going with him. One hand on the table, the other completing the shoe check, she played the role perfectly. The boys loved it.
The list of little pranks is endless – from sitting in your stall in the morning to leaving it hours later, you can count on something not going as planned. Which, I guess, means the unplanned is the plan, strictly because a dressing room is a playground for adult men.
You'd think it would change, but some of the oldest players have the wiliest tricks. So as a rookie, beware: You just never know when your teammates have sawed halfway through your stick.
And you never know when they've re-sized your helmet too small.
And you never know when they've ¾-cut your laces so they break during tightening, just before you go out on the ice.
And you never know....
You just never know.
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|Last Updated on Sunday, 10 January 2010 06:26|