Commentary

Superstitious? So are the Hawks

Hawks share their game-day superstitions

Originally Published: November 12, 2009
By Jesse Rogers | ESPNChicago.com

Most people know that professional athletes are creatures of habit, ritual and, yes, even superstition.

Hockey players are especially notorious for keeping to their routines. As the Hawks prepare to play on Friday the 13th, it gave me a chance to dig deeper into their psyche. I couldn't find a Hawk who was worried about playing on this unlucky day, but I did learn a whole lot more. I asked every coach and player for a game-day ritual or superstition. Some have few, while others … well, I'll get to Brent Seabrook later on.

[+] EnlargePatrick Sharp
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireIf you see Patrick Sharp with a tennis ball, you know it's game day. Just make sure he doesn't toss it your way.

Center John Madden: I used to change my laces every single time I skated. I used to cut them out every single time, but then I realized I was wasting a lot of laces. Now I just change them every game, so I cut them out after every game and wear new laces until after the next game. The guys kind of find that weird. At one point in '03, when we [the New Jersey Devils] won the Cup, I started cutting them out between periods, and we kept winning, so I kept doing it. That was pretty crazy. But I'll tell you one thing about superstitions: Whether you're winning or losing or whatever, you'll drive yourself crazy after a while, so I don't recommend them for anyone.

Left wing Patrick Sharp: I always wear my headphones with the iPod on before the game, so no one really talks to me, and that's a good thing. I sit by Johnny Madden in the locker room, so sometimes I don't even have music on, just the headphones, so he thinks I'm listening to something so he doesn't strike up a conversation. I also have a tennis ball I carry around on game day -- throwing it around, bouncing it off the wall, tossing it to people, just doing whatever with it. It gets me into the game.

Center Jonathan Toews: I don't have any, really. I eat the same things and sleep on game day.

Defenseman Cam Barker: I don't really have one, but I could tell you a couple for just about everyone on the team. Brian Campbell doesn't like anyone touching the knob of his stick before the game, or he has to retape it. Seabrook has way too many to even get started on. He gets ready at the exact same time every game, like he ties his skates at 5:38 p.m. or whatever. I do the exact same warm-up on and off the ice before the game. I guess that's mine. I'll stand in the same spot during warm-ups and go out in the hall and do the same thing. I'm not like some of these guys who have some crazy ones.

Right wing Troy Brouwer: On game days I usually have the same meal. It's penne with some homemade meat sauce and some Texas cheese toast. Texas cheese toast is like garlic toast with five different cheeses on it. If we lose I have to change it up, though, and then you go with what works.

Defenseman Duncan Keith: I'm usually the last guy to come into the room on game day to get dressed, and the guys expect me to do my wolf howl before I get ready. They call me "The Wolf," so I do this wolf howl, but I can only do it in the room before I get ready.

Right wing Patrick Kane: It's hard for me to think of one. I do similar stuff when I'm on a roll, but nothing comes to mind. I guess I make sure I sleep about the same time on game day. Oh, I just remembered one. Buff [Dustin Byfuglien] and I always do three claps before we head out onto the ice. Three claps, and then we go out. Talk to Seabs [Brent Seabrook] -- he has a ton.

[+] EnlargeCristobal Huet
Norm Hall/Getty ImagesGoaltender Cristobal Huet doesn't like to call his ritual of putting his pads on in alternating fashion a superstition.

Goaltender Cristobal Huet: I try not to call it superstitions -- more like rituals. I go from left to right when I get dressed. Left skate, right skate. Left pad, right pad. Like that. I started that in juniors, and I just kept it up.

Goaltender Antti Niemi: I have some, but I'm trying not to have them anymore. I always do the same thing on game day. Same nap, same warm-up, and I don't want to do that anymore. I just want to do things different.

Left wing Kris Versteeg: I guess mine is that I get dressed right to left. I've been doing it since I was 5 years old. So I always go right skate and then left and move up the body from there.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson: When we are warming up on the ice, I always wait until the clock is at :00 before I go off. Some guys go earlier, but I always wait until the end. I don't know why. I guess I did it once and I played well, so I always do it. Actually, I'm not doing it as much this year, but most of the time. Talk to Seabs. He has a ton.

Left wing Andrew Ladd: I box our equipment guy before every game. Before warm-ups, Clint Reif and I box. No head shots, just body shots, but I get close to his nose sometimes. Clint enjoys it. It's either me or his wife. I think he'd rather get it from me. He fights back, but I have like a two-foot reach on him. Home and road we do it.

Center Colin Fraser: I'm not too bad. I have the same routine every game day. The only little quirky one would be left skate first. Then right. No particular reason. Been doing it for years, and so that's the way I do it now. Very rarely do I forget, but once in a while, I'll go right skate first. I don't play any different, but it throws you for a loop for a second. But I make sure next game I go left skate.

Center Andrew Ebbett: I kind of do the same routine. One thing I do is shower the night before. I mean, if you don't then you're taking four showers on game days. When you get up, after the morning practice, after my nap and then again after the game, so I just move that [first] morning shower up to the night before.

Defenseman Jordan Hendry: My biggest thing is I put my right side on first. Right skate then left, and I do that for all my equipment. I don't know when it started. I'm not even sure it's a superstition, it's just something I do.

[+] EnlargeAdam Burish
Leon Halip/US PresswireAdam Burish dodges Patrick Sharp's tennis ball, and also plays soccer as his pregame ritual.

Right wing Adam Burish: Every game, Sharp bounces a tennis ball around the dressing room and throws it at everybody, so whenever he throws it at me, I just zip it back at him. He runs away because he knows it's coming hard at him. So every game I zip it at him as hard as I can and see if I can peg him. I play soccer before every game as well. Oh, and the guys always make fun of me 'cause I have three or four goofy drinks I drink before the game. It's some little concoction that I mix up that makes me wild and crazy out there. Seabs has some crazy ones. Before every game he has these things he says to everyone, and to me he always says, right before warm-ups, "Let's get a good drip out there Bur, let's get a good drip," you know, about getting a good sweat going. That's every game. "Let's get a little drip." Yeah, he's goofy.

Right wing Dustin Byfuglien: I do the three claps with Kane, that's about it. I don't know what Seabs yells at me. I don't pay attention.

Center Tomas Kopecky: I am a superstitious guy. First, Buff drives me to the game and we have a 4:30 "chew" [both chew tobacco] at my place. When he drives, it's the seat belt automatically with him behind the wheel. When we get to the United Center, I get out of the car sweating. I have a couple others.

The one thing I do during warm-ups is I always spit on all four [faceoff] circles. The two in our zone and then the two near center ice on our side. When I get up from my nap I always drink a vitamin C drink with water, and then when I get to the rink, I never touch the jersey until I put it on.

Defenseman Brent Sopel: I really don't have anything crazy. I have the same routine except for my meal on game day. I eat whatever my wife makes me. I wouldn't call it superstitions, more like a routine.

Defenseman Brian Campbell: I don't like the knob of my stick being touched before a game. I don't mind it in practice and I've paid off the guys next to me so they watch my stick when I'm not there. It's kind of soft and I just don't like people touching it. You should see Seabrook. He has a ton. He has to eat seven Hershey's kisses before every game, and Sopel sits there shaking his head like he's listening to heavy metal even if there's no music playing. I'm not the worst. I've got some weird ones around me.

Right wing Marian Hossa: I get dressed the same way. But even if I mix it up I don't care. I don't have anything crazy. I do get dressed right to left. And I go to sleep at the same time on game day.

Left wing Ben Eager: I used to try to do the same exact thing on game day when I was younger, but it just got old, and I couldn't keep it up. I was driving myself crazy, so I now I just come in ready and do things similar but maybe not the exact same way. Seabrook sits across the dressing room from me, and sometimes I find myself staring at him watching him do his goofy superstitions and stuff. He's got a lot.

Center Dave Bolland (as told by Patrick Sharp): I don't know if it's a superstition, but Bolly always stays away from the gym. He doesn't really work out or warm up. He just shows up to the rink and puts on his gear and plays. I wish I could do that. He just rolls out of bed, plays the game and then leaves right after it's over. He's pretty low-maintenance.

[+] EnlargeJoel Quenneville
Jeff Vinnick/Getty ImagesCoach Joel Quenneville said he used to have many superstitions as a player, but doesn't have them as a coach.

Assistant coach Mike Haviland: When I played, there was always a certain stick I had to have for game day. As a coach now, there's always a certain time I have to lay down for a nap, and I just kind of got in a routine. If I'm a little off on that schedule, it always seems to come back and haunt me. The time I take my nap is a big thing now that I'm a coach.

Assistant coach John Torchetti: Oh yeah, I had some. Not as a coach but as a player. I would have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I got home from the morning practice, and then the same pasta with butter -- and then a cream horn for dessert. Then on the way to the game, I would stop at the same gas station and get a Nestle Crunch. On the road I would still get the Nestle Crunch, but the peanut butter and jelly was tough to get sometimes. I would stick with that routine big-time.

Coach Joel Quenneville: As a player I was very superstitious. The routine had to be very precise. Everything had to be done at a certain time. As a coach, if I was superstitious, I couldn't get through the day.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook: I have a lot of superstitions, but I'll give you one. I like to drive myself to the rink on game day as opposed to getting a ride.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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