Everyone is superstitious in one way or another. Whether you believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day or that an apple a day will keep the doctor away or if you never walk under ladders, there are superstitions all around us. Some of the most superstitious people around are hockey players. Here’s my top 10 list of the most superstitious men to ever play in the National Hockey League:
10. Stephan Lebeau
Stephan Lebeau would chew between 20-25 sticks of gum in his team’s locker room. He would then throw the gum out exactly two minutes before the game’s opening face-off. Chewing all that gum must have revved his entire body up, because in 373 NHL regular season games between the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks, he totaled 277 points. He also helped the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1992-93.
9. Stephane Quintal
Stephane Quintal wouldn’t talk to anyone past 1:30 PM on game days. He wouldn’t reply to conversations or answer any phone calls. I guess you can’t call him motor mouth. Despite being quiet, he had a pretty rowdy career with 1,320 penalty minutes in 1,037 NHL regular season games.
8. Karl Alzner
Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, it’s no wonder that Karl Alzner is a fan of the Canadian National Anthem. But what he does during the anthem is a bit odd. While the Canadian National Anthem is playing, he taps his hockey stick 88 times. He also traces the outline of the Canadian maple leaf while the music is playing. He was drafted fifth overall in 2007 by Washington and has spent the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Capitals. And considering Washington is located in the United States, Alzner’s Canadian Anthem ritual doesn’t happen every night. Maybe he should consider a more routine superstition.
7. Glenn Hall
Glenn Hall’s nickname was “Mr. Goalie”, but I think a more suitable name would have been Mr. Sick. Hall would make himself throw up before every game because he thought it would make him play better. I guess the superstition worked pretty well, as his record was 407 wins, 326 losses, 163 ties and 84 shutouts in 906 NHL regular season games. Coincidentally, another NHL goaltender, Darren Pang, also vomited before each game, saying that it made him more agile in the net.
6. Joe Nieuwendyk
Known as one of the greatest face-off men in NHL history, Joe Nieuwendyk also had a couple of superstitions he followed regularly. Prior to every NHL game he played, he would eat exactly two pieces of toast with peanut butter on them. Even more bizarre, he would sprinkle baby powder on the blade of his hockey stick. He believed the baby powder had some magical powers that helped him score goals. Perhaps it worked, as Nieuwendyk totaled 564 goals and 1,126 points in 1,257 NHL regular season games.
5. Pelle Lindbergh
Former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Pelle Lindbergh, use to wear the same orange t-shirt under his equipment during each hockey game. The t-shirt was never washed and when it would start falling apart, he would have it sewn up. During intermissions, he would drink a Swedish beverage called ‘Pripps’. He would only accept the drink if it had two ice cubes, was delivered by a certain team trainer and as long as it was in his right hand. Lindbergh’s quirky habits helped him on the ice with a record of 87 wins, 49 losses and 15 ties in 157 NHL regular season games. Unfortunately, Lindbergh died as a result of a devastating car crash at just 26 years of age.
4. Brendan Shanahan
Known as a great power forward, Brendan Shanahan had some pretty quirky superstitions during his NHL career. He would wear old shoulder pads that dated back to his days in junior hockey. He would also listen to Madonna on game days. Obviously the ‘Material Girl’ and ancient shoulder pads worked in Shanahan’s favor, as he recorded 1,354 points in 1,524 NHL regular season games.
3. Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby could very well be the most superstitious player currently in the NHL. He will not call his mother on game days, as some of his past injuries occurred after he was talking to her. If he’s travelling with his team on a bus, he will lift his feet and touch the glass when they go over railroad tracks. If his team is playing on the road, he’ll only use tape that’s provided by the home team for his sticks. And when he’s done taping his sticks, nobody is allowed to touch them or else he’ll have to re-tape them. Crosby must be doing something right, as he’s one of the best hockey players to ever play the game. He has won numerous awards, including the Stanley Cup in just his fourth NHL season.
2. Patrick Roy
Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy had a long list of superstitions. He would never talk to reporters on game days before he played. During pre-game warm-ups, he would skate to the blue line, stare at his net and picture it shrinking. He would also never step on the blue or red lines. Prior to the games, he would lay out his goalie equipment on the locker room floor and dress himself in a certain order. Then during intermissions, he would juggle with a puck and bounce it off the ground. And if those weren’t bad enough, he would quite often talk to his goal posts, claiming “they are my friends”. Apparently, his goal posts were extremely loyal friends, as he holds numerous NHL records and won many trophies during his incredible career, including four Stanley Cups.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is one of the most superstitious players in NHL history. He wouldn’t get his hair cut while his team was on the road because one time when he did, his team suffered a major loss. During practice, he would start off by shooting a puck to the right of the net. He would then drink a Diet Coke, a glass of iced water, a Gatorade and another Diet Coke in that exact order. As for his uniform, he would always put the left side on first and he would always tuck in the right side of his jersey. Also, he would put baby powder on the blade of his hockey stick. He most definitely lived up to his nickname “The Great One”, as he holds a large amount of NHL records, won many trophies and averaged almost two points a game during his illustrious career (2,857 points in 1,487 games).
by Jocelyne LeBlanc