The Strangest Superstitions in NHL History


As professional athletes, NHL hockey players will do whatever it takes to be successful on the ice. On top of their on and off ice training and preparation, many players throughout NHL history have adopted strange, oftendisturbing superstitions in order to ensure their on-ice success.

Oddly enough, some of the best players to have played in the NHL are those with the wackiest, most unexpected superstitions. Superstitions arent limited strictly to players, as whole teams often follow specific rituals in order to help their teams win.

Patricks Posts

Inanimate objects cant talk. Oh, wait, whats that, Patrick? They can?

You read that right, Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Royhad conversations with his goalposts, although all they ever had to say back was ping. Roy did this because he felt it helped to improve his game, and that he would play better with the goalposts on his side. Literally.

Joe Sakic Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche
Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche pose with the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The superstition began during the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Hartford Whalers. Roy said it began by accident during the national anthems:

They (the goalposts) helped me, andI played a good game. In overtime a guy took aslapshot and hit the post but we won.

What exactly would Roy say to his posts?

Come on guys help me out. Before the gameI give them direction. The goalposts are always with me. They talk back to me. Some nights they say bing. But some nights they have a bad night, too.

As crazy as it sounds, Roys superstition would help pave the way to a fantastic career. Roy went on to win four Stanley Cups and three Vezina Trophies.

No More Nerves

Likely the most disturbing superstition in NHL history belongs to Hall of Famer Glenn Hall, also known as Mr. Goalie.

In a physically disturbing ritual, Hall would force himself to vomit before each game, especially later in his career. Why? Similar to Roy, he had the superstition that doing so would improve his on-ice performance.

I got the feeling I wasnt giving everything I had if I didnt go through it. I also feltI playedbetter. I felt ifI wasnt wired, I wasnt playingwell. Id get up in the morning and I couldnt wait for game time.

Goalie Glenn Hall
Gross or not, it is hard to argue with the results. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Hall felt that in order to live up to his own high standard of play, he had to find a way cope with and relieve the pressure of playing in hockey games of massive significance. Clearly, his decision to do so paid off in the long run, as he not only raised the Stanley Cup, but won three Vezina Trophies and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 with 407 career wins.

My Precious!

Eddie The Eagle Belfour was a tremendous goalie in his NHL career. Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011, he won a Stanley Cup, two Vezina Trophies and 484 games in his career. Along the way, Belfour had, like many, a superstition.

Ed Belfour Dallas Stars
Goaltender Ed Belfour of the Dallas Stars (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

Belfours superstition was attached to his goalie equipment. He refused to let anybody except for himself touch any article of his equipment. The superstition was so strong in fact, that he was known to threaten those who came near or touched his equipment.

If you touch my stuff, Ill kill you.

Obviously not serious regarding the threat, its clear just how specific he was about who touched his equipment, as he felt he played at his best when only he had touched it. Belfour was also known to completely disassemble parts of his equipment, such as his glove, if he had a bad game or let in a soft goal.

The Great One and Baby Powder?

Thats right, one of the many superstitions of Wayne Gretzky was applying baby powder to his stick before games.

Gretzky could be the most superstitious player in the leagues storied history. Does this mean that superstitions lead to success? I would say no. But for the Great One, they certainly didnt hurt.

Walter and Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky of the Campbell Conference and the Edmonton Oilers talks to his father Walter before the 1984 36th NHL All Star Game against the Wales Conference on January 31, 1984 (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

On top of his use of baby powder:

  • He refused to ever have his hair cut while on the road. The one time he did have it cut, his team lost horribly.
  • He always put his equipment on in a specific order. His bottom half left to right and top half left to right.
  • In warm-ups, he would purposely miss his first shot on net wide right.
  • Following warm-ups, he would drink beverages in a particular order: diet Coke, water, Gatorade and another diet Coke.

It is hard to argue with these odd rituals considering Gretzky won four Stanley Cups, countless awards, scored 2857 career points and has a place in the Hall of Fame.

Sidney Crosby, the Perfectionist

When I say, perfectionist, it is not a reference to his game on the ice, but to Crosbys superstition with his hockey sticks.

With his sticks, each must be cut to a specific length and taped in a specific way. Once they are taped, no one can touch them, and if they do, Crosby is forced to fully re-tape the stick, feeling that the stick will not perform as it should unless handled by him alone.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Crosbys other superstition is not calling his mother on game days. The three times he has done so has resulted in three significant injuries; a dislocated shoulder, broken foot and shattered teeth.

Hands Off the Hardware!

One of the best-known superstitions in NHL history is the choice teams face after winning either the Eastern or Western Conference Finals. Presented with either the Prince of Wales Trophy or Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, the winningteam will have to decide whether to touch the trophy in receiving it, or not touch it.

Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly
Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

A ridiculous superstition, it is the belief of players that receiving or touching the Conference Trophy is a bad omen and decreases a teams chances of winning the Stanley Cup. Yet throughout NHL history, this seems to not be the case, as teams that chose to touch a conference trophy tend to go on to win the Stanley Cup approximately 50% of the time.

In 2008, Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins elected to not touch the Prince of Wales Trophy and went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals. A year later, Crosby chose to pick up the Trophy and the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Other Odd Hockey Superstitions:

  • Chris Chelios: Last person to put on his jersey beforea game.
  • Jocelyn Thibault: Would pour water on his head six and a half minutes before a game.
  • Joe Nieuwendyk: Ate two pieces of toast with peanut butter before every game.
  • Brendan Shanahan: Wore his junior hockey shoulder pads in Detroit, listened to Madonna pre-game.
  • Karl Alzner: Taps stick 88 times, traces maple leaf outline before national anthems conclude.

This article was originally written in December, 2014.

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