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Silliness in Hockey: Dumb Phrases and Characteristics of the NHL

August 20, 2018, 11:32 AM ET [1 Comments]
Trevor Shackles
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS

If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you love hockey. It would be strange if you didn’t. I love it too, and there are so many reasons why I’ve been following it my entire life and now write about it several times per week. However, like with any sport or league, there are a lot of dumb characteristics that come with it. Not only that, there are dumb cliches that players, coaches, fans, and analysts say all the time that make little sense but are constantly used.

I wanted to write about those characteristics and phrases today, because there are so many things that irk me about the NHL. These things don’t make me not like the sport, but I definitely roll my eyes whenever I see these things happen or get said. I could’ve made this list even longer, but here are the main ones that first came to my mind. Enjoy some complaining by yours truly!

No goal-line technology

Soccer has it. Tennis has it. Why the hell can’t hockey have it? If tennis can determine whether a ball going 130 mph is one millimeter to the left of a line, then the NHL can determine whether a puck fully crossed the line. No more of these “inconclusive” reviews---once the puck crosses the line, the light behind the net should go off.

“He plays a north/south game”

What is that even supposed to mean? I’ve literally never heard an analyst or coach describe a player as an “east/west” guy, and how could you be that kind of player anyway? I know they’re trying to say that this kind of player is good defensively and offensively, but wingers are generally meant to stay on their side of the ice anyway, and most centres are automatically going to be “north/south” players too.

It’s a saying that doesn’t add any value to analyzing somebody whatsoever.

The shootout

Every person I talk to loves 3 on 3. It’s so entertaining to watch, and unlike the shootout, it’s still real hockey. Teams can get dominated in regulation and overtime but still win in the shootout because they’re good on breakaways, and I hate that. Thankfully shootouts have become less common, but they’re still around. An easy solution is to just have continuous 3 on 3 until somebody scores, or begin with 5 or 10 minutes of 4 on 4, and then the next overtime period can be 3 on 3. This would add a bit of time to some games, but I doubt there would be very many marathons where nobody can score.

It would be even more exciting, plus I think it would be a bit more fair.

“His compete”

All the time analysts will say that “his compete is off the charts.” Can you say that in English please? It’s not hard to say “he’s extremely competitive.” Oh, and “his compete level” is a bit better, but it still doesn’t make sense.

Not using offer sheets


They are there for a reason...yet it’s as if they don’t exist anymore. GMs are so afraid of annoying their fellow GMs, and it’s ruining the fun in the league. Sometimes a broken relationship shouldn’t even matter though, especially if it means that your team is going to get a very good player or you are forcing another team to pay a lot more than they wanted.

GMs come and go too, so it’s not like they are going to be dealing with the same people every single season. I don’t know how to fix this to make offer sheets more appealing, and I get why it doesn’t happen, but it sure makes the off-season a lot less fun.

“Stats are for nerds”

If anybody in hockey says something to the effect of this, I just assume they’re incredibly dumb or ignorant (or both). What you’re saying is that you’d rather have less information than more. Sure, some stats are more important than others, and you have to use a whole data set to make conclusions, not just one number. But implying that something as simple as shot attempts don’t matter makes you look like a dinosaur. Don’t be this person just because you don’t understand what a certain stat is.

Attributing team success to individual awards

I could write a whole article about this, but why on earth does the best defenseman in the league need to be on a playoff team? Hockey is not like basketball where one player can drag a bad team to become good, so it’s ludicrous to expect a playoff berth. Furthermore, I’ll say the same thing about the Hart. Was Taylor Hall’s season so much more valuable than Connor McDavid’s just because he got the New Jersey Devils to play five extra games?

I get that Hall had hardly any supporting cast, but McDavid also had 15 more points on a terrible team, which...isn’t exactly close. If you put McDavid on New Jersey, and Hall on Edmonton, which team would be better? New Jersey of course, because Connor had the better season. Who cares if the Oilers didn’t make the playoffs, this is an individual award that goes to someone that provides the most value, and no matter what team he is on, McDavid would have been the best in the league.

“Upper/lower body injury”

I didn’t realize that there are only two types of injuries in this world. Thanks so much for the vagueness, I now have no idea how long to expect this player to be injured for.

Still referencing +/-

Alex Ovechkin. Erik Karlsson. Nick Leddy. Matt Duchene. Phil Kessel. These are all players who have had seasons with a plus/minus worse than -30. Let’s stop pretending like this stat says anything more than who is on a good team or who has good or bad luck when they are on the ice. I cringe when I see it referenced on TV as if it actually determines a player’s success in a season.

“He’s good in the room”


It’s usually people from teams who say this, but analysts say it as well. The only time this is referenced is when they are talking about a player who isn’t skilled enough to describe what he does well on the ice. This is probably a player who hits and blocks shots, but other than that, the main reason for acquiring him is due to his dressing room presence. I laugh every time when a player’s main strength is something off the ice, and those types of acquisitions almost never work out.

Berating players for celebrations

I’m not going to lie, this is becoming much less common, and the main culprit of this is Don Cherry. But still though, cranky men who don’t like fun will often criticize players for their over-the-top celebrations, despite it adding so much excitement to the game. Certainly there are some celebrations that are disrespectful, but those are few and far between. If you aren’t allowed to celebrate an overtime goal to send your team to the Stanley Cup Finals, then when are you?



Celebrations like that are simply fun and aren’t disrespectful at all, and those sorts of things get young kids interested in hockey. You’re lying if you say you didn’t try to imitate NHL goal celebrations as kid on the ice.

Having the same bad analysts on panels that nobody likes

Please mix it up, Sportsnet, TSN, CBC, NBC, etc. There are some likable people on these panels, but why is Mike Milbury still getting paid to talk about hockey? It’s not like he’s entertaining, and all he does is have ridiculous takes that everyone (rightfully) drags him for. We don’t need more former GMs or coaches, let’s hear from some different people.

Would it hurt to have a knowledgeable woman on one of these panels? They actually exist, I know. Even if they decide to have all white men, at least pick people who are going to have some personality and promote the game as fun and entertaining. With some of these analysts I just see them being grumpy all the time and it makes me not want to continue watching. These networks should be thinking outside the box in terms of the people they hire and also the way they present things, because I never hear anybody talk positively about the coverage for these networks.

Let’s hear what else bugs you in regards to the NHL!
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