If you ever played Beer League hockey you have all experienced this: a beer league goon.
There is nothing worse than losing – the experience sucks for everyone equally. While some take it in stride and play hard until the final whistle blows, some take the other route. The role of a goon is quite tainted in the NHL and even now some of the fights tend to happen for no apparent reason. So the goons are sometimes a distraction or a way to slow the game down and sometimes happen just to justify the three minutes of ice time that player gets. Mind you, of course there is a proper time for a fight – to get your team going or get the fans back on your side. The thing about Beer Leagues is that there are no fans and fighting is completely disallowed.
I am not sure what exactly goes through the brain of a player who is just skating out there, talking smack and is properly dirty on the ice. He is the guy who will go out his way to make physical contact or sometimes will chirp at you just for making a good defensive play and end up dropping the gloves on you. I find that these players often fall into one of two categories: the player who thinks he is Sean Avery and the player who thinks he is too good for the division he is playing in.
Let’s start with the Sean Avery types. The reason I pick or nick-named them the “Sean Avery type” is because they tend to have very little hockey skill, chirp all day, and think they are Brock Lesnar on skates. What they do usually have is barely a legitimate skating stride and often use their stick more as a whacking tool to hit things with – “I have stick, I hit you with stick”. The problem with these players is that they automatically designate themselves as the muscle on their team, forgetting partially that fighting is not allowed and that everyone is actually paying to share the ice of course.
This type of player is also usually on the bigger side as he feels invincible and is willing to impose his muscle on you. The issue here is that these players tend to not really play the game and lack the sense for the details. A slight push on the back here, a slight lift of the stick there, and my favorite maneuver is when the goon is standing in front of the net you slightly wedge the butt end of the stick into the ribs. I am not sure why some players expect to stand in front of the net and be treated with a cup of tea and a biscuit? These techniques tend to transform this type of player into a raging bull and they will ultimately take penalties. We all get that you are a big tough guy and no, we do not want to take it outside in the parking lot. Get in the box and take your two minutes for being stupid.
The self-proclaimed superstar player on the other hand is typically a dangerous player on the ice. This type of player usually does have skill, speed, and can on occasion make you look silly out there. A game breaker, if you like, and at first you almost wish you had a player like that on your team. But if you ever see this player lose and start whining like a baby who just lost his mommy…you probably wouldn’t.
The main issue with a superstar player who actually thinks he is really good is the ego that comes with it. These players tend to play a level below their talent pool because it makes them feel important and good when they can skate up the ice and dominate a game. The issue comes out though is when this player faces a defense or a team that can contain him and even stop him completely. (Most of these guys tend to be on the shorter side too)
The first signs of a self proclaimed superstar is that the kid usually leads the league in goals and never backchecks. Some call it the “Alexander Ovechkin complex”. The superstar will start to complain to the refs as soon as you have any physical contact with him or get tangled up fighting for the puck along the boards. He will start to trash talk you almost instantly and pretty much lose his head as soon as his team starts losing and he can’t even sniff a shot on net. These players are the most annoying due to the amount of trash talking that happens. Chirping and chirping just because he can’t dazzle, razzle up and down the ice. Their sweet chirping tears are like sweet sweet honey to any defenseman.
Now both of these profiles tend to start fights and be the first ones ejected. You have faced them before and so did everyone who has ever played any competitive Beer League hockey. What I do not understand is why this behavior is needed?
I had a few run-ins with players who aggressively want to take your head off during the game just because they are losing. The players who constantly talk crap to you and your teammates or feel important to be the third guy in and throw a punch. Does it never occur to them that we are all wearing helmets with cages and that the stink-glove facewash does not work? And that sometimes the consequences could be very dangerous (sometimes somewhat comical)? In my arena the game is constantly being video taped and the cops have been involved in a few nasty fights.
It is this behavior that we really need to get out of hockey, recreational hockey. This irrational trend of some players who just seem to lose their mind and forget that there is not much on the line, we are all just regular folks who love the game and want to play it, but at the end of the day we have wives, jobs, and kids to go back to.
Let’s try to take care of each other out there and show some respect to other players.
PS: Of course if that asshat scores another goal in a 8-0 blowout, well he is fair game
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photo credit: Les_Stockton via photopin cc