Hockey has its superstitions

Not this time: Billy Penn wore a Flyers jersey for the Finals in 1997 , when the home team was swept by Detroit
Not this time: Billy Penn wore a Flyers jersey for the Finals in 1997 , when the home team was swept by Detroit
Posted: May 28, 2010

Webster's defines superstition as "a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance or a false conception of causation."

That makes it sound as if superstitions are ridiculous rituals that we perform only because we don't know how else to affect events or other people.

Balderdash!

Is wearing the same underwear every time you play H-O-R-S-E silly just because you wore them the first time you shut out your fourth-grade son in the driveway?

Is taking the same out-of-the-way route to work every day - even when there are backups due to construction - because you've never had an accident there a waste of time?

No way. They may be silly, but we love our superstitions not because they really do anything or affect other people.

They just make us feel good.

Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin fills out the lineup card every day and uses different styles of penmanship to keep the chore interesting.

However, "If we're winning, I'll do it the same way every time," Mackanin said. "If we're losing, I'll change it. You have to try everything."

Hockey players and fans are big on superstitions.

Barry Peacock, 60, a Flyers season-ticket holder from Mount Laurel, said he wears a different hockey jersey to each Flyers game he attends. And he has this one superstition.

"I never wear another NHL jersey other than the Flyers'," he said.

Of course, there are some non-believers.

Flyers captain Mike Richards tried to debunk one of the most celebrated hockey superstitions.

Richards drew gasps on Monday when he held the Eastern Conference championship trophy aloft after the Flyers advanced to the Finals. Most hockey players refuse to touch the conference trophy, thinking that will jinx them from getting to hoist the real trophy, the Stanley Cup.

But Richards was unrepentant.

"We haven't done anything conventional all year, especially in the playoffs," he said. "So we might as well go against the grain one more time."

We'll see how that turns out.

Here are several hockey-related superstitions you can be sure the Flyers and Blackhawks are considering for this series:

Go grizzly. The idea is not to shave throughout the playoffs until you are eliminated. The result is a Finals in which most of the players look like mountain men, Civil War generals, or your crazy uncle who can't hold a job.

Food for though. Players love to eat the same meal before every game. Flyers winger Claude Giroux chows down on grilled cheese sandwiches before lacing up his skates. The result is a lot of hungry players when the caterer sends over the wrong tray.

Clothes make the man. Many players need to dress exactly the same way before every game. Wayne Gretzky was big on this. Socks first, then pants, then shirt, etc. The result is chaos and a fine for being late to the ice when the trainer accidently uses your socks to plug up the leaking urinal.

Statue-stition. Don't expect the city to put a Flyers jersey on the Billy Penn statue atop City Hall. And it's not because of the budget crunch. The Flyers got swept by Detroit when they dressed up the old boy in 1997.

Dance to the music. Lots of teams play special songs before big games. The Flyers used to feature Kate Smith live. Now they play a recording of "God Bless America." The Rangers used Van Halen in 1994 when they won the Cup. The result is a lot of old, bad music. (That does not apply to Kate Smith, however.)

And there are many others we won't get into now because, you know, boring the reader is bad luck.


Contact staff writer Gary Miles

at 215-854-4487 or gmiles@phillynews.com.

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