Discover more from End of the Bench
Hockey Explained to Someone Who Has Never Heard of It
Let's break it down.
by Jason Garramone
Really, you’ve never heard of hockey?
No, not jockey. A jockey is someone who rides a horse.
And you haven’t seen clips of hockey being played? Darn, neither of us has our phone.
Okay, I’ll explain it to you. Like a lot of sports, the objective is to get more points than the other team. You get points by putting the “puck” - a thick, hard, rubber disc - into the opponent’s net. Try to picture half a cage, but instead of steel bars, it’s enclosed by a fishing net.
No, the players don’t carry, bounce, throw, or kick the puck. They poke it back and forth with a stick. A wooden stick. It makes it easier to control the puck on the ice.
Yes, ice. The playing surface is ice. All of it. You’re right, it is very slippery and cold. How do the players run on the ice? Haha, run! On the ice!
Sorry, excuse me. No, they don’t run on the ice. They use skates. Skates are a special type of boot with a blade built into the bottom of them. A blade. Like a big knife. The blade makes it possible for the players to move more easily on the ice. Well, not initially. Skates can be pretty tricky at first. I haven’t quite got the hang of turning yet. Or stopping.
Are you with me so far? You’re on skates, you have a stick, and then you’re going to skate towards the other team’s net and try to shoot the puck past the goalie.
Sorry, the goalie’s job is to prevent the puck from going into the net. His face is protected by a mask just like the one that Jason Voorhees wears in the Friday the 13th movies.
No, no, there’s no tackling like in American football. Just good, old-fashioned body checking.
What is body checking? Ummmm..well, for lack of a better explanation, it involves using your body to “hit” another player. A clean hit is like witnessing a car crash where everyone involved walks away safely. Except for the players who get concussed.
Body checks are often delivered while a player is on the perimeter of the rink, known as “the boards.” The lower half of the boards are made of lightweight, durable plastic. The upper portion of the boards is made of glass. The boards and glass are built to have just the right amount of give so they won’t break, except when they actually do when someone is thrown through them hard enough.
Don’t worry, being slammed into the boards still feels like you’ve been hit by a freight train. I agree, getting body checked would be upsetting.
Players deal with their frustration in all sorts of ways. Some players channel their anger and play with more intensity, hitting harder and skating faster.
Others opt to yell insults at opposing players. You know, foul-mouthed taunts and jeers. Doling out verbal abuse. Pretty much anything that would get you withdrawn from every other sport. This is known as “chirping.”
And some players fight. Like fistfight, fight. They drop their gloves and resolve their differences by bare-knuckle boxing. Yes, right there on the ice. The fight ends when the referee breaks it up or one or both players are sufficiently bloodied.
Reflecting on all of this, I suppose hockey could seem kind of strange if it is new to you. All of this will make more sense once you watch it played.
First, a couple of questions for you: do you like beer, and do you have any objection to being shirtless and covered in body paint?
Thanks for reading End of the Bench! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.