*huff* *puff* go the players as they swing in over the boards to the nice little benches and sit down, drink some water and b*tch about the poor job those refs are doing. What am I doing? Skating my n*ts off retrieving the puck for my partner, or hustling to get in position between the benches, or more rarely getting to go stand on a faceoff dot and prepare for mayhem.
What most players dont understand is this - I'm not trying to make your life hard... really! I'd love to drop a sweet puck, flat and clean right in the center of the dot, no bounce, and if left unimpeded it would simply rest there motionless. It happens, but never in your game dummy - why - because your swinging that piece of lumber AT ME!
If youve never had the pleasure of risking your hands to the average hockey player here's the situation. When the centers face each other they are required to have their stick in contact with the ice, have their feet square to the circle and be suitably far away from the center of the faceoff dot. What actually happens is these turkeys try anything, and I mean anything, to get an advantage. Most coaches really fail to teach the simple art of faceoffs, so the players hear all sorts of strange rumors and try them. Thats not really a problem in itself but most players NEVER UNDERSTAND WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESNT!
So they try the same stuff, every stoppage. Again, not a problem in itself - I could care less if you lose every faceoff, I'm still going to have to skate the game - but those wacky faceoff theories all seem to involve someone telling newly minted centers "pssst - you - you'll surely win the puck if you swing your stick at the ref! no one will think of that, and he'll get out of the way for you... your special".
Reality check here fellas (and ladies), I will NOT get our of your way to make your faceoff more successful. I usually try to high-tail it out of the vicnity of the drop for self-preservation. You are not special. If you swing your stick in my direction I'm unlikely to allow you to sweep my feet in order to win the puck. If you raise your stick in the air... well, the puck is usually on the ice... huh... go figure... and if you hit me, dont expect to win a faceoff all night.
See that circle is awfully large, I am legally empowered to place that puck anywhere within the bounds of the circle, and I can. its a fine art, I'm a lousy shot with a basketball (BRICK) but I can hit any spot on a red faceoff circle I want without even looking. As often as not, if you hit my with your blade on the last drop, the puck is going to go either right between your feet, or elsewhere away from you, and most importantly, away from me!!!
Next week's lesson, how scorekeepers can break a good game and make the entire rink groan.