November 02, 2010

Tuesday Top Tens: Hockey Superstitions

We all have crazy superstitions, especially when it comes to hockey. During the 2010 Olympics I discovered a winning combination I stuck with to help both the mens and women's Canadian teams win gold. I had to sit in the same spot, with the remote control facing a certain direction. Most importantly, I had lucky Canadian flag socks that I did not wear but rather kept folded to the right of me. During moments of the game I deemed to be the most crucial, I would then hold the socks.

Hey, it worked! Twice, even. Double gold medals!

So what are some of the more crazy superstitions in hockey history? Here's a top ten list of crazy superstitions and good luck symbols as per Andrew  Podnieks new book, Hockey Superstitions: From Playoff Beards to Crossed Sticks and Lucky Socks.
  • Stan Mikita, one of the greatest players of all time, smoked a cigarette and tossed the butt over his left shoulder before returning to the ice after an intermission.

  • Glenn Hall, Mr. Goalie, famously played 502 consecutive games. Before most games he had a strange habit of puking. He said the vomiting helped him calm his nerves.

  • Between the pre-game warm up and first period of the game, Wayne Gretzky had four beverages in this particular order: Diet Coke, ice water, Gatorade and a second Diet Coke.

  • Little known Red Goupille played in the years before World War II, but his strange superstition also revolved around Coke. During the game he kept a bottle of Coca Cola in his street shoes, believing it would guarantee a goal. It was not an overly successful superstition, however. He only scored 12 goals between 1935 and 1943.

  • Bruce Gardiner would dunk the blade of his game stick in toilet water prior to the game.

  • Ray Bourque would change his skate laces before every game and during every intermission. He would never use those laces ever again. Bourque played in 1826 games (including playoffs). That's nearly 5500 sets of laces used in his career.

  • A Los Angeles radio DJ believed his butt was lucky. He helped the Kings win their 1989 playoff series over the Oilers by sitting bare-assed on the ice to urge LA to a come from behind series win. A year earlier the DJ sat on the pitcher's mound to help the LA Dodgers capture the 1988 World Series.

  • Gavin Kirk and the Ottawa Nationals of the World Hockey Association believed a rotting cob of corn brought the team good luck. With the half-eaten cob's help the Nats won 12 of their final 13 contests to qualify for the playoffs.

  • In the 1975 NHL playoffs the New York Islanders pulled off the near-impossible comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the best of seven series despite losing the first three games. Their secret? A large bag of elephant dung. The Islanders first discovered the lucky charm in the previous series against their arch rivals, the New York Rangers. They shared Madison Square Gardens with the circus at that time. A friend of Billy Harris gifted the elephant poo and the team stuck with it!

  • The anthem-warbling ways of Kate Smith continues to be a legendary good luck charm. When Kate or the video of the deceased singer sings God Bless America, the Flyers are 87-23-4.
All these and many, many more can be found in Andrew Podniek's fun new book  Hockey Superstitions: From Playoff Beards to Crossed Sticks and Lucky Socks. You can read the full book review here.

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