Talk Description to Me

Episode 85 - It's Hockey Night Tonight!

January 08, 2022 Christine Malec and JJ Hunt Season 4 Episode 85
Talk Description to Me
Episode 85 - It's Hockey Night Tonight!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

"Hello out there! We're on the air! It's hockey night tonight!" - Stompin' Tom Connors.

For some, winter means bundling up, locking the door, and hiding under weighted blankets 'til Spring. For others it means lacing up skates, taping up an old stick, and heading to the nearest patch of ice for a bit of shinny! This week, in a valiant, oh-so-Canadian effort to fight off the post-holiday blahs, Christine and JJ indulge in some nostalgic, description-rich chirping about the best game we can name - the good ol' hockey game!

To hear a live version of Stompin' Tom's Hockey Song, check out this YouTube video, packed with grainy, vintage clips of goals and dustups:  https://youtu.be/UxJvrD80nJ4

To hear today's NHL players share their favourite hockey sounds, check out: https://youtu.be/h61mQXXk7IQ

And for more musings on hockey, check out this blog post by Christine, originally published in 2012: https://talkdescriptiontome.blogspot.com/2022/01/christine-on-hockey-few-days-before.html

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TalkDescriptionToMe)
JJ Hunt:

Talk description to me with Christine Malec and JJ Hunt

Christine Malec:

Hi, I'm Christine Malec.

JJ Hunt:

And I'm JJ Hunt. This is talk description to me where the visuals of current events and the world around us get hashed out in description rich conversations

Christine Malec:

This week we're going to talk about that most seasonal of topics - Hockey. The World Junior Championships were meant to be happening this between Christmas and New Years and they traditionally do and I was I'm not a hockey fan, but if you're Canadian, you just kind of have to pay attention you can't you can't help it you just have to notice and care a bit and and I was over at a friend's place and he had a jersey that's a genuine if you look at the stitching on the side, you can see it's a genuine jersey with and I had the big fat maple leaf on it and I was trying it on cookie. And so I said to JJ can we do an episode on the World Juniors on on hockey and so we we sort of talked about that we were gonna do that. Anyway, and then the World Juniors got cancelled the poor guys but still, it is the season of hockey and for Canadians and lots of people in the US it's gonna be hard for me not to be humming the Hockey night in Canada theme in the background. Dun dun dun. Sorry. Okay, I'm going to stop. But um, we thought we would talk about the visuals of hockey and we've done a little bit of this a when we talked it was it in the Olympics episode. I can't remember. But we have talked about some of this stuff. So we're going to dive into a few of the aspects including some stuff about blind hockey, too. So JJ, should we start with the big picture like let's start with the rink.

JJ Hunt:

Yes, so the rink in hockey is is more or less the same for men's for women's for blind hockey, and even international and NHL hockey. So there are slight changes in the dimensions between the North American NHL and the International rink. So Olympic or International Ice Hockey Federation rinks. So the rink is rectangular with rounded corners, about 200 feet long and between 85 to 100 feet wide. So the NHL, those are narrower, the International those are wider. So you know, 200 by 100 feet, that's quite a bit bigger than a basketball court. But quite a bit smaller than an American football field somewhere in between really about the size of an Olympic pool. That's what the the hockey rink is like the ice is a white surface. There's a thick red line across the center and two blue lines on either side of that the blue lines, those create zones on the ice. So between the two blue lines, that's the neutral zone in the middle, and the center line goes across the across the middle of the neutral zone between the blue lines and the ends of the rink or the end zones at either end. So either the defensive or offensive zone depending on what side you're playing on. There are also very thin red lines crossing each end of the rink. These are the goal lines. So the neck is set up right on those lines, and the lines crossed not only the width of the net, but all the way across the width of the ice and this helps the officials judge goals and make other calls like icing. Then there are dots inside of circles on the ice as well. These are the faceoff circles. The main ones are in the middle of the rink, that center ice, and then there are two at either end. These are on either side of the goalies crease, the puck is dropped onto the.to Start the play. And everyone except for the two players taking the face off. They are supposed to remain outside of the larger circle. But that's really only in theory. That's one of my favorite things about like watching a live hockey game is watching the players try and get position on one another so whoever's facing off, you know one facing off with the other. There are rules about whose stick goes down first. So the away team they have to have their stick down first and the home team they get to or it's the maybe the other way around. I can't remember they jostle for position and then in the wings where they're trying to get in as close as they can and they're trying to get in front of each other for position and there's this whole dance around trying to get position on one enough one another. Inside the referees are blown whistles and kicking people out to fun little drama that plays out. Anyway, so all of these lines These circles they're layered into the ice. So over the course of the game, the players they skate and they carve up the surface of the ice which creates like a snow basically, it's like shaved ice if you like if you have a snow cone, that kind of shaved ice, that's what eventually covers the surface, but you can still see the the lines in the ice, they just get a little bit more muted. It's a little bit frosted on top. So then, then the Zamboni comes out and new ice is, is layered on top by the Zamboni everything's cleaned and everything. But always the lines are in the ice, they're still clearly visible. And then there are boards all the way around the rink. So these boards are like, four feet tall. And, and they're a little bit flexible, there's a little bit of give to them, because bodies are slamming into these boards at pretty high velocity. And around the ends of the rink. There are also tall plexi glass walls. And sometimes they're actually tempered glass like real glass. They shatter on occasion, when a puck hits them directly at a certain speed, certain angle, it's a pretty dramatic. And these walls of glass that are around the ends, they also extend onto the sides, but they're a little bit lower. And there are breaks in these like glass walls for the team benches that are on one side of the rink. And then the penalty boxes on the other. And really like a slap shot can clock in at over 100 miles an hour. So something needs to protect the fans when a puck misses the net. That's why they've got these, these these glass walls and then even above them, there are nets. So like you've got you've got the you've got the boards. And then above the boards, you've got the glass and then above the glass, you've got netting so that any puck that is errant is hopefully not going to fly into the into the stands on the ends, they can on the sides, but not on the ends. And I should mention that there are ads, we've talked about ads in almost every sport, anytime we talk sports, you got to talk ads, there are ads all around the insides of the boards, and embedded in the ice too. So on top of the circles or top of the lines, or get the Nike swoosh, or you know, whatever whoever's paid to get their names, their company names or logos things that are easily read or recognizable at a glance, you're not going to get like full ads, like "Come to Tommy's shoe repairs, Tuesdays for..."

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha.

JJ Hunt:

You get logos, and you get a company names, things that you can read at a glance as the camera passes over. Yeah, so that's basically what the rink itself looks like.

Christine Malec:

We're going to get back to this later talking about watching the play. But I'm wondering about the difference between watching that on TV versus being in the space live and what the rink looks like in the big picture that you get watching?

JJ Hunt:

Yes, so when you're when you're watching live, and obviously it depends on where you're sitting in how big the stadium is, the arena is. But when you're watching live, you can turn your head from right to left and you can take in whatever part of the action you think is important. Whereas when you're watching on TV, you can't always do that. That's the that's the you know, the director's job. That's the camera operators job they are focusing in. So in hockey, a lot of the standard view is, I guess you get about half of the rink. How, you know, if you panning from right to left, you're up high, looking down at an angle, not directly overhead, down at an angle so you can get most of the of the rank. And then when there's specific action for replays, then these then they cut to different cameras, and you can get real close ups there is an above the net angle that they cut too. If you're trying to figure out if the puck is actually gone over the line. There are camera operators at ice level who are filming close ups of certain players so that you can really get a zoom in on you know, the players action. I'm always impressed these days. Hockey Sticks are not just wood, they're fiberglass. They're these incredibly expensive pieces of technology. And when you get a camera angle from down close on the ice and you get a slow motion replay of a defenseman who is in the middle of a slap shot, you can really see the band those sticks really bend as they're making contact with the ice and the puck not is available because there are cameras on the ice. So that kind of thing. You can only get when you're watching televised. When you're live it's more about the big picture. It's more about the environment. It's more about hearing every grunt from the players if you're lucky enough to be close and to be you know jostling with other fans. It's more about the experience in the environment. Whereas from a pure like why Watching the specifics of the game, you kind of can't beat the televised experience for something like that.

Christine Malec:

And then of course there's the distinctive hockey arena smell. It's such a multi sensory thing like I grew up with it because my brothers played and like, "Sniff sniff" yep, hockey arena or, "Sniff sniff" yeah, hockey bag and...

JJ Hunt:

Oh the hockey bag. Oh, yeah. Whoo!

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha. Where are the referees and linesman that's out there? Where do they where do they position themselves.

JJ Hunt:

So they're moving all over the place, there's they're shifting back and forth a little bit. So in the same way that a team has defenseman that are going to be staying staying back in the line and forwards that are going to be you know, roaming the center is going to be all over the place. The lines the linesman and the and the referees have similar positioning, so the linesman they need to be in a position to to be able to call an off side so they're often positioned at the blue lines, whereas the referee is getting in close, close to the action, but they also have to make sure that they're not in the middle of the play. It does happen with some regularity that a puck comes flying against the boards where the referee or alignment is, and they got to jump they literally have to jump so that the puck hits the boards under their skates, and then they land again on two feet, or that there'll be a tussle where two players are slamming into each other and the linesman gets pulled into the fray. I mean, they it's a very, very challenging job and you have to be an incredible skater. The first thing that happens if you're if you're live at a game, the very first people on the ice are the officials the referees and linesman. And they come on and they start whipping in circles all around the ice getting their legs going. And honestly, there's some of the best skaters on the ice. These guys are going oh yeah linesman officials, these these folks can can skate 30 or 40 miles an hour. They are flying out there.

Christine Malec:

Oh, my gosh. Let's talk players and the look of the players and the equipment. I imagine they're pretty bulked up with padding and stuff.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, the equipment hockey players, they wear a lot of gear. So in men's hockey, there's a lot of body checking, and almost all levels of body checking is allowed in men's hockey. And it doesn't matter what kind of hockey you play. If it's if it's there's no contact is not no contact. No Contact means no intentional checking, there's still a ton of incidental contact no matter if you're in men's hockey, women's hockey, blind hockey, you are bumping into each other. And that hurts if it hits an unprotected body park over 100 miles an hour, that little disk of rubber. So a puck itself, a standard traditional puck is one inch thick, three inches in diameter, kind of compressed, solid, dense black rubber. It's got a smooth top and a smooth bottom with a bit of texturing around the sides fits in the palm of your hand, it's only six ounces. But that thing focalize if it hits you it hurts. And in blind hockey, the puck is three times the size. It's made of steel or some other kind of metal and has eight ball bearings inside. So that makes a trackable sound. So it's heavier, it's bulkier, it's bigger, and it's not as smooth. So travels more slowly across the ice in a standard Puck, you're not going to get the same kind of incredibly hard shot, but it's metal, either of those pucks hits you, you hurt. So you are wearing if you're a hockey player, you're wearing a lot of gear. And there's a funny thing that's happened over time hockey players have gotten bigger, they're faster, their shots are harder, so the equipment has gotten larger to protect them. But bigger, more solid equipment means that it's easier to hit harder and not feel the pain yourself. So you're not in danger of getting injured or you feel you're not in danger of getting injured because you're protected. But the person you're hitting, they're getting hit with a really hard shell shoulder pad, right. So it's very it's a bit of a balancing act. You want the equipment to protect the player, but you don't want it to make you feel invulnerable, right, so it's a bit of a balancing act. Players were shoulder pads that cover the upper part of the chest and the back as well as of course the shoulders. They have elbow pads, big elbow pads, and this is all underneath their big fairly loose jersey. Hockey players were heavily padded shorts are called pants, but they're really shorts and shin guards again, the shin guards. These are the probably the toughest piece of equipment. They are really hard, like hard plastic on the outside padded on the inside. And then there are socks. So these are like big thick. They're not wool anymore, but they're big, thick socks that go up over the shin pad, and then they go under the shorts and they're actually held up by a garter belt. The garter belt that is sometimes connected to the jock or the jill. That's, that's sometimes built in these garter belts really are kind of industrial sports versions of the lingerie garter belt. It's the exact same concept. And then of course, players are wearing skates, big stiff gloves that come up to the forearm, and their helmets. In Pro men's hockey, not that many face cages on the helmet, but visors are mandatory. So visors are clear plastic shields that are gonna go across the eyes. Some visors cover the entire face and chin, but you don't see as many of those in the NHL. In most women's and blind hockey leagues, full face cages or full face shields are mandatory. So for men, not mandatory for women, mandatory for blind hockey mandatory

Christine Malec:

Let's talk uniforms. I assume that a team an NHL team anyone will make themselves look distinct so that you know who's who on the ice.

JJ Hunt:

Absolutely. So uniforms, pro, semi pro, frankly, even amateur leagues these days almost all have really well coordinated put together uniforms. So the colors of the jersey match the socks which complement the logo on pro teams, and frankly, even on some kids teams, the pants and the gloves and the helmets, they're also going to be color coordinated, right? It's it's it's it's important. As you say, it's important because of you want to be able to identify your team on the eyes, but it's also because, you know, companies like to sell merch and put together a professional looking team. Let's take just as a random example, the Montreal Canadiens totally random not because it's my favourite team.

Christine Malec:

That's very random of you JJ. You roll the dice and it came up Montreal Canadiens.

JJ Hunt:

Exaclty it always comes up Habs.

Christine Malec:

And I think you could actually look behind you and see a jersey that you might be able to describe for reference.

JJ Hunt:

I could just look down at my jersey! So the main colors for the Montreal Canadiens are blue, red and white. So the home uniform is a red jersey with a with royal blue shorts, Red Sox, blue gloves, blue helmets, and the Canadian's crest is a red C with a white H inside and this is centered on a thick, blue horizontal stripe with white borders, that goes across the chest and around the back. And that same stripe also there's there's the same stripe around the forearms and one around the shins on the socks. And then there are small white numbers on the shoulders, a large white number on the back. And then the last name is written across the shoulders as well in you know, stitched on in white letters. So the away uniforms for all hockey teams start with a white background, your home uniform is based on your your team colors. The away uniform is a white background with then stripes and other design elements like numbers, shoulders and cuffs in the other team colors. So even if two teams have similar colors, they're never going to look the same when facing off because one is always the home team and one is always the away team. So one is always wearing a uniform that's based in white. So if during a game with the Montreal Canadiens blue blanc rouge, you're not going to confuse that with the Washington Capitals red, white and blue. Right? And we talked a bit about uniform design and I think in our soccer episode, so in soccer, much of the design is influenced by the size of the field and the distance between the fan and players right. In hockey speed is the big factor. And players move at such incredible speeds and are in constant motion. You need uniforms that can be quickly and easily distinguished by players, fans and commentators at a glance, that's key. So again, those big numbers, the standard white for the away team, the bold stripes, contrasting colors, all of that is is at play internationally. team uniforms are often based, of course on national colors. So you get the crests that are sometimes pulled directly from flags or coats of arms. You mentioned the maple leaf for the Canadians that's that's on their logo. The Swiss team has a red jersey with a simple white cross on the chest. Russia sometimes has a golden double headed eagle from its coat of arms on their crust. But interestingly, there was a recent game against Finland, where the Russian team wore Soviet era jerseys that featured the letters CCCP and read across the chest of their white uniforms.

Christine Malec:

Oh woah!

JJ Hunt:

So this is the Russian abbreviation for USSR. And visually that uniform is very recognizable from the era where that team was playing internationally. That was how a lot of non Russians got to know them. That was the export from Russia was their hockey team. And it's symbolic of a particular political ideology. So to wear this vintage uniform in play against another European team. It was a bit controversial.

Christine Malec:

Wow.

JJ Hunt:

The Russians said it was to celebrate 75 years of hockey in Russia and to be totally fair, teams wearing vintage uniforms is very, very common that happens all the time.

Christine Malec:

Oh ok.

JJ Hunt:

But the Finns were very unimpressed.

Christine Malec:

I dare say.

JJ Hunt:

Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb. Yeah, he called the decision to wear that uniform on "offensive gesture". And he tweeted out, quote, "that letter combination and the regime that stood behind it symbolizes authoritarian imperialism and killed millions of innocent people in the process". And then he goes on to say, "it matters that a lot of the country's in the ice hockey family were brutally annexed by those letters." So an amazing political statement, just by wearing a vintage hockey jersey.

Christine Malec:

Should we talk about the the nature of the play? What's it like to watch a game because I've heard, I've heard it said that hockey is fast as sports go. It's pretty. It's things are happening quickly.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, hockey is fast. It's really faster than any other team sport. The individual players are fast. Like I said, skaters can get up to 30, even 40 miles per hour. And by comparison, like the fastest wide receiver in American football, they can run about 20 miles per hour. So 30 to 40 miles per hour for skaters. That's fast. The tempo of the game is fast. So even when the game is at its absolute slowest. So say a team is setting up for a big shot and a power play. So there, it's all about positioning, it's a little bit more like chess at that point. Where are your players on the ice, passing the puck from one to the other. Even then, the players are kind of in constant motion, right? They're still shuffling from side to side. They're skating forward, they're skating back. The tempo of the game is fast. And the action goes on and on and on. So in American football, a televised game that might last three hours only has something like 18 minutes of football in it. The rest is like huddles, and commercials. It's there's only 18 minutes of football in a three hour game.

Christine Malec:

Wow.

JJ Hunt:

In baseball it's worse. In baseball a three hour game gets you 10 minutes of baseball, terrible. Oh my gosh. In NHL hockey, in a two hour 20 minute game, you're getting 60 full minutes of hockey, and 40 minutes of the rest of the time is intermission. It's not stoppage in play, you stop and you have a full 20 minute break twice during the game. So the the actual play goes on and on and on. So in football and baseball each play is measured in seconds. If you have a 15 second long football play, that's a pretty long play. In hockey, the game regularly doesn't stop for 5,6,7 minutes at a time. The Penguins and Capitals once played for almost 14 minutes without a break in play. That's the record for longest playing hockey.

Christine Malec:

Heh heh heh.

JJ Hunt:

So that the speed of the players the tempo of the game and the end and the length of each play all of that adds up to a pace that is frenetic and I kind of feel like the one of the best ways to feel how frenetic and fast paced that is to listen to commentators or radio broadcasters.

Christine Malec:

Yeah!

JJ Hunt:

If you listen to a radio broadcast of a baseball game...

Christine Malec:

They're chilled out!

JJ Hunt:

Lots of filler, lotsa chit chat. "Here we are. Today's pitch brought to you by..."

Christine Malec:

They even talk slower.

JJ Hunt:

Everything about it is slower. It's languid, it's chatty, whereas hockey commentators who are following the play, they don't even use full sentences right?

Christine Malec:

Um hm.

JJ Hunt:

It's so chopy. "Crosby around the net, back again, sends it to the line, Letang to Rust, Rust in close, drops it across" - it's super fast.

Christine Malec:

You're good. Ha ha!

JJ Hunt:

You know, I can fake it. Heh heh. The on ice speed, the energy of the game of hockey is matched by the commentators they get hilariously wrapped up in the action. There's some great YouTube clips of commentators going just completely crazy screaming and yelling and it's wonderful. And I think that's like if you want to hear the difference, just listen to the commentators their energy matches the energy on ice.

Christine Malec:

A many of our audience will be familiar with blind hockey of close and personal. So can we talk a bit about how that gets played for those of us who don't know?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, blind hockey. I don't know a ton about blind hockey. I mean, I'm no hockey expert in general. Most of my hockey knowledge comes from playing men's hockey as a teen and watching men's hockey on and off throughout my adult life. And my experience with blind hockey, I have to say is really limited um, it really wasn't even on my radar until a few years ago, so I haven't yet been to a live game which has been on my list for a while but I have watched some some clips online I've watched You know, a couple of periods of hockey online. Mostly, it's this same game like it's, it's hockey, as I've already described it, the only real differences in terms of the rink are the nets, the nets, instead of being four feet tall or three feet tall, they're the same six feet wide across the front. But only three feet tall, you don't want the puck being raised too high, that loses the sound quality. You know, a pucks metal puck full of ball bearings along the ice makes a sound a puck that's being raised in the air doesn't so it takes makes it a little difficult to, to track pucks that are being shot up high. So that's one of the only changes to the you know, the visual look of the game, one rule can really change how the game is played. In the case of men's hockey and women's hockey, that the rule about hitting makes a big difference to the way the game is played. And the for the visuals of it. With blind hockey, I think the key difference is that there's one rule that says you must make an offensive pass. So you must make a single clean pass in the offensive zone before you can score. Because you need that puck to be moving around the ice. So it's making a sound so that other players can hear it. And so that changes the strategy of the game. But it also changes the look of the game because the way players are positioning themselves on the ice is different. Because you have to make a pass, you can't have a breakaway, someone going straight down the ice on their own, you have to be able to make that pass. It also means you sometimes it seems to me anyway, players are a little bit closer together because it's easier to make a short pass and to make a really long pass. And there's a little bit more clustering in blind hockey, because again, you want to be close to see to hear the sound of that puck and you're closer to the puck means, you know, more chance of getting in on the action. But I gotta say I'm blind hockey is visually, the only other difference is that it's a little bit slower. So I you know, because players who are playing blind hockey have, you know, less than 10% vision I think that's that's the the general cut off. You know, you skaters are skating around some without being able to visually see where their teammates are, where their opponents are, where the goal is. So you are relying entirely on sound. So you're going to be moving a little bit more slowly. But I gotta say, at the risk of highlighting my ignorance and ableist perception of the world, when I went online to watch game clips, I was expecting to see a sport played at a much more cautious and tentative speed by cautious and tentative athletes. And once again, you know... I was totally blown away by how fast the game was.

Christine Malec:

Huh.

JJ Hunt:

This is not a sport that's just focused on puck movement. You know, I figured the sport would be about moving the puck not moving the body because as a sighted person, I can't imagine how could you move your body at high speed in a rink full of other people who are moving at high speed, none of whom can see. I thought that it would be a tangle if that was to happen. And that's just not the case. The clips I've seen, especially the sport being played at the highest levels, there are athletes who are making big passes, they are dicking around opponents playing smart positional hockey, picking the corners of the net with really difficult shots. from a visual standpoint, I'd say maybe it's 10 to 20% slower than hockey played by sighted athletes. And that's about it. Otherwise, it's the same sport.

Christine Malec:

Don't feel bad, I would have made the same assumption. Ha ha!~

JJ Hunt:

Thank you, I appreciate that! Ha ha!

Christine Malec:

Heh heh. Now, when we started talking about the idea for this episode, we were just chatting about our experiences with hockey. And I remember you saying that you were watching a game with your partner and you could see things happening and building up and you could see where they're going and your partner was looking at it and the pieces just weren't coming together for her. But I liked the idea of that if you knew what you were looking for, you could see things building can you kind of explain and expand on that?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, hockey is, like a lot of sports, if you know the sport, if you have a sense of the game, you can pick things out. You can see how it's going to unfold. It really is a little bit like chess. If you are someone who knows chess, you can glance at the board or hear a description of where all the pieces are and you know, "ah they're gonna they're gonna break out this move" or "they're trying to draw out this response from their opponent." And hockey is very much the same. As is soccer, as is football, you can you get a sense of what might happen based on where the players are on the field of play in hockey is very much like that, again, the challenge with hockey as it happens, it all unfolds very, very quickly. So as the as a team makes a rush up the ice, seeing where the forwards are, where they've positioned themselves, seeing how far behind the opponents are, if they're trying to catch up is this a three offense on to defense situation, who's who's coming up the wing who's coming in behind as a fan who knows the game. And if you have the benefit of being able to watch from some kind of vantage point where you can see it all unfolding, you can pick out how that's going to happen. For Lois, my wife who's not a hockey fan, it's just a lot of very fast movement. She can be impressed by a goal, she can be impressed by a save, she can enjoy the environment. But that but watching it unfold doesn't give her the same pleasure that it gives me because because I'm anticipating things that I can see are, you know, they might be three moves away if it was chess, but it's three seconds away because of the speed that hockey is played that. So that really is a that's a that's a huge part of the game. And that's again, where the commentators have their have their work cut out for them in in hockey, because trying to just track where the puck is, is difficult enough trying to also give the listener a sense of where the other players are, how the play might unfold. That's a real challenge in a game that's unfolding as fast as hockey is.

Christine Malec:

Often when we talk about sports, I'm interested in the body types of the athlete and so what I'm sure it's the same for men and women's hockey, what kind of athletic body type do you see in the players?

JJ Hunt:

Well, it's interesting, there actually is a bit of a difference in men's and women's hockey, because of checking. So in men's hockey, because there's there's physical contact, because hitting is so much a part of the game. Men are huge. The men that are playing hockey now are massive. And that's because of the checking. It's so much a part of the game. So when you frame men's hockey, you're focused on the body first and the puck second. So when two men are skating down the ice and one's got the puck, the other doesn't have the puck, the player without the puck almost always goes for the body. First, they're going to try and crush their opponent into the boards so that they can either they can scoop up the puck on their own or trap their opponent and allow a teammate to take the puck. In most women's hockey, intentional checking is not allowed. Still a very physical game, you can still tangle up your opponent you can still Trapper against the board, you can tussle at the front of the net, but no body checks. So the play is centered around the puck. So in that same situation, you got two players skating down the ice one's got the puck one doesn't. The stick handling the passing the finesse becomes more important. And I got friends who swear by women's hockey, right? They they they really think it's just a much more skilled game. And what this one difference this rule of checking or no checking the one of the major differences is that in hockey for men, you have to be massive gets really hard to be a small player and play at the highest levels because you're going to get crushed. Whereas in women's hockey, you can be a smaller player and you can compete at the highest levels of the sport. So you do have a slight difference. Again, not that women who are playing hockey are not big and tough. Some of them are massive. Some of these women are incredibly strong and they're certainly all unbelievably fit. With men though it's it's the size is a given you have to be huge and some of the players are truly massive. What I love in hockey is looking at the difference between a goalie dressed in their gear and a goalie out of their gear. So Kerry price Montreal, Canadian amazing goaltender, he is really tall, quite lean, I mean very muscular, but lean. And then you see him on the ice and he's the goalie. The goalie pads, the chest protector, the shoulder pads. It is so big and bulky. I mean, if you had that puck flying a jet 100 miles an hour, you want something that's going to protect you. So they're girth they are built out almost they're probably twice as big in their gear as they are outside of their gear twice as wide really hides how the shape of their body and in fact A lot of the design of the goalie equipment has to do with, with making a goalie look bigger and appearing to take up either more of the net or less of the net, depending on how they, how they design their equipment and what colors they use really interesting.

Christine Malec:

How does the goalie differ in the, their movements? And obviously, they're staying close to the net. But are they visually distinctive from other players?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, absolutely. So the equipment is considerably different. So not only the size, right, you've got like more of a chest protector, more of a protection around your, what really your whole trunk and arms, so you're bigger, the mask is different, the gloves are different and the the pads are different. So instead of a thin stick that's held in two hands, like, you know, most of the skaters on the ice, a goalie has a thicker, it's called a paddle, and it's held in one hand, and that hand has a blocker for a glove. So this is a thick pad. That's, I mean, really, it's approaching the size of a cookie sheet. It's not quite that big, but it's getting close to the size of a cookie sheet, but really thick and that's on the back of the glove. So that when you're gripping the stick with one hand, it's this flat ish. I mean, it's slightly curved cookie sheet, basically, that's a blocker so that that can you know, you can block pucks as they're coming toward the net. The other hand is a glove that's like, it's more like a baseball glove, at least in its operation. It's got a trapper that opens and closes, but when it's open, it's the size of a dinner plate. It's huge. It's huge. It's huge. The Leg Pads again, instead of having shin pads that are underneath a sock, a goalie has leg pads that are on the outside. And these are big pads that are designed to minimize rebounds and really take up as much real estate as is legally allowed. So when a goalie is standing with their pads side by side, which is not their normal position, usually they're kind of angled out a little bit. But if if a goalie does stand with their pads, their leg pads side by side, it kind of creates a wall. That's about the size of a sofa cushion. They're great, big, huge, thick pieces. And these days, most of those goalie pads are white. So white makes the goalies look bigger. Right? You know, we always hear that black is supposed to be slimming. So goalies want to look bigger, they want to look like they're filling a lot of the net when you know when you're seeing them before the game starts, you want to you want your goalie to look big and intimidating and they're going to take up most of the net. So you use white for the pads. But White is also of course the color of the ice and the boards that are behind the net. So if you have white pads, at a glance, a skater that's coming in to take a shot is going to have a really hard time glancing up and distinguishing between the white open corners of the net and the white goalie pads.

Christine Malec:

Aaaah!

JJ Hunt:

So there's some really interesting kind of color theory at play. Some goalies like black pads are just a handful, but some goalies like black pads because they think that a black puck will get lost in the color of their pads.

Christine Malec:

Oh!

JJ Hunt:

So they think they get quicker whistles from the referees when they smother the puck. Oh really interesting. Mark Andre Fleury used to wear these trademark yellow pads. But he stopped because an optometrist told him that the human eye is sensitive to yellow, and therefore shooters would more easily pick out where his pad ends and the open nets begin. So he ditched the yellow pads. Like in an instant he's like "no, okay, you're not doing that anymore", and he stopped wearing the yellow pads. Really interesting. The other thing that's different about goalies is their their helmets. So, you know regular skaters got a helmet that sits atop the head. Whereas goalie helmets cover the face first that's primary cover the face first, and then they curve back around the sides and then over the top of the head. There's often a separate piece on the back of the head that's held on with an elastic like Velcro strap. And goalie helmets are made of like a blend of fiberglass and Kevlar and carbon fibers. They're a little bit smoother. They're not like these lumpy bowls that sits on top, they're smoother, they're sleeker. There's a big hole at the front for the eyes and the nose are that's for the player to see. And then that's covered by a cage like a wire cage. And these masks goalie masks get painted in all kinds of ways. There are airbrush artists that specialize in goalie masks.

Christine Malec:

Oh!

JJ Hunt:

So they do team colors, they use elements of the team's logo to create these really cool art pieces. Sometimes there's like a graffiti aesthetic to it. Like someone might get a sleeve tattoo with one tattoo after another that eventually covers the whole arm in personal pieces of iconography or something and the goalies helmet is very much the same. Some goalies put very specific pieces of imagery on their helmet to say any number of things so again Carry Price Montreal's goalie. He has had many, many masks and a lot reference the history of the Canadiens. They reference specific goalies or eras of uniform or other players famous players from Montreal but he's also got many masks that reference his indigenous heritage. So all of that gets played out in his masks to players just have some fun with it. So in the 1990s, Brian Hayward of the San Jose Sharks, he had his goalie mask painted like a shark head with a mouth opening wide around his cage, so big, jagged teeth all around his face.

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha.

JJ Hunt:

In the 80s, there was a Vancouver Canucks goalie named Gary Bromley, and he had a mask that was painted like a smiling human skull was really gnarly. It was awesome.

Christine Malec:

Ha!

JJ Hunt:

I think probably the most famous goalie mask is Boston's Gerry Cheevers, who back in the 70s wore a mask that was covered in hand painted stitch marks. So each stitch mark was supposed to represent an actual shot or slash to the face. The story goes that he would come in after the game and he would say, Okay, I need another one here, I need another one here. And his artist would like paint on a straight line with a bunch of little hash marks across it to indicate where he would have had to get stitches had he not been wearing the mask. That's the legend, anyway.

Christine Malec:

I'm gonna refer anyone who's interested to our show notes, because I have a blog post that I wrote that includes a tutorial on hockey fights that I got from my brother. And so I wonder is there anything to be said JJ, about the hockey fight?

JJ Hunt:

Ah the hockey fight. I mean, some love it, some hate it, it's for some people, it's an essential part of the game, there's a again, there's a real dance to it the way the hockey from a visual standpoint, the way a hockey fight will often start, you'll have two players who are kind of skating around each other, like in a bit of a circle, who's going to go who's going to go, the dropping of the gloves, tells you that OK, it's time to go. So the they drop, The gloves come off, and then you grab on with one hand. So usually, if you're right handed thrower, you grab your opponent's jersey, you know, with one hand and you start wailing with the other, but the whole time you're, you're on your skates, so you're often spinning in circles while this is happening. If your opponent pulls you in close, then you can then you do what's called a jersey. You jersey the guy, which is you try and reach around back and grab the guy's jersey from behind and pull it over the guy's head, so that they can't see now you can really pummel him because you've got the jersey over the head.

Christine Malec:

Ha ha.

JJ Hunt:

There's all kinds of... like the drama around what's a good fight. And by good I mean, a respectful fight. The players who are fighters there's a code about this stuff, like some people get a little too into the code. But it's that's part of it. The other thing that I'm not sure always gets conveyed is at the end of a fight, especially to players who are known for fighting who's kind of that's one of their roles on the team, to players who fight like regularly and are fighting an opponent of equal stature. At the end of a fight. You'll catch just a minute of the two of them kind of almost embracing.

Christine Malec:

Whoa!

JJ Hunt:

Ya, sometimes they'll give each other a pat on the back, or you know, rub the other guy's hair and whisper in his ear "Good job. Nice one, buddy." Ah! Ha ha! And they'll give them a slap on the behind as they get pulled away by the linesmen. It's so strange.

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha! That's so bizzare!

JJ Hunt:

They were really violent, we're talking people losing teeth, there's often blood players get dropped to the ice. It's a it's a really violent fight. But at the end, again, not always, but sometimes you get this little bit of loving camaraderie.

Christine Malec:

Ha ha ha!

JJ Hunt:

It's a very strange hockey visual. It's really weird.

Christine Malec:

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The rink
Televised games
Refs
Equipment and uniforms
Speed
Blind Hockey
Body types and body checking
Goalies
Fighting