Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ten Commandments Of Shinny Hockey

Adult pickup hockey, or shinny, is still growing exponentially in Canada. Once a sport that was played as a youth and hardly ever played after the age of 19, now is so popular with adults that some arenas in major cities have been built specifically for adult hockey. In saying that, there are a lot of adults that are picking up the game for the first time in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. Like any sport, many non-participants have been long time fans of the game and have watched their favourite pro team on the television for years.

This is an issue. Learning a sport from watching professionals on television has some advantages but is not an accurate method for learning to play at the recreational level. For one thing, what the camera captures in only a fraction of the game. The camera only follows the puck but a lot of the game is played off the puck. The other issue is the aggression level at the pro level. This should not translate to recreational hockey, obviously. Unfortunately, it does.

My ten commandments of shinny hockey have been rolling around in my head for years. I play a lot of ‘unsupervised’ pickup hockey and I see a lot of things that just make me shake my head. Of course, it’s not the new players fault. There is no guidebook handed out when someone walks into the dressing room for the first time. Hopefully, my ten commandments will serve as this guide for whoever reads this post. The great thing is that most of the commandments can be translated to any other sport.

1. Shots above the shin pads are allowed only when there is absolutely no other player between the shooter and the goalie.

2. Despite the fact that you don’t feel tired, you must take your turn coming off the ice so that everyone gets an equal amount of ice time.

3. Once the goalie has made a save and the puck is in relative tight quarters to his body, the play is over. Thou shalt not dig at the goalie’s glove hoping for a hack goal. Goalies for shinny are a premium and the last thing anyone needs is a goalie with a broken hand or just does not want to come out anymore because someone is constantly hacking at him.

4. Under absolutely no circumstances should your stick be above your waist. If the puck is in the air, let it go or use your glove to pull the puck down.

5. Realise that there is no possible chance your performance will give you a shot at making the NHL.

6. Give the newer, weaker players a chance. Some players are getting their first taste of hockey in their adult life and don’t have the luxury of decades of playing the game. If we don’t give them a chance, they will quit and we won’t have enough players to pay the bills to keep the ice.

7. When your side scores, for god sakes, at least let the other team come out to centre with the puck before stripping them of the puck and scoring again.

8. Do not, ever, provide the guy who’s renting the ice with any undue stress by showing up without the right amount of money. This guy has put a heavy amount of money on the line to ensure you have a place to play hockey every week.

9. Give the benefit of the doubt to the other team on offensive off-sides and icings. Throw the puck in the corner, and clear out of the zone.

10. There are no referees, scorekeepers, scouts, agents, coaches, trainers and/or fans attending these events. You and everyone else is there to have fun and get some exercise. Make sure you have fun and get some exercise.

As a side note, if anyone that reads this lives in the Orangeville, Ontario area and is interested in playing some pickup hockey but doesn't know how to get involved, let me know and I should be able to set you up.

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