The scene in the dressing room before big games is almost always the same - generally quiet with intermittent chatter, and a bunch of grown men behaving in strange ways. Nerves and anticipation make people act a little unusual.
Below are 5 types of guys you’ll find in every dressing room before big games.
The Monk shows up to the rink in headphones. They were on when he got out of his car or left the hotel room, they’ll be on when he changes out of his suit, and they’ll be on until it’s time to drape a towel over his head to overthink the hell out of something he knows by instinct.
On the one hand, I respect how serious these guys are about their craft, and one aspect does make a ton of sense: if you don’t talk to anyone or play sewerball or listen to the team music, you can’t get frustrated by anything. With 20 idiots listening to country or rap and competing in pre-game soccer, it’s really easy to get annoyed.
On the other, it’s overkill. What are we, going to war? Take some time to focus on your role pre-game, particularly if there’s any changes, go over your job at each faceoff dot, visualize a goal or two...you need three hours for that?
You know who doesn’t need three hours? This guy. He believes that going into a game tight means certain doom. He believes you gotta “keep it loose,” and boy is he ever. Also, boy is he ever...forcing it. What happens when Rodney and the Monk run into each before the game?
I kind of appreciate the effort from “Rodney” Mitchell. He really believes he’s providing the team a service, and he might be. Not everyone enjoys him, but you gotta do what makes you comfortable.
You know what makes this guy comfortable? Everything. Anything. Something. His focus is singular: prepare, prepare, prepare.
Here’s at the rink three hours before puck drop, and he’s right into his undergear. He’s gotta warm up. A little jog, some bike time, skip some rope. He’s gotta get a massage from the trainer. He’s gotta tape his six sticks, and spraypaint the bottom half of this one, and redo that knob. He’s gotta stretch. He’s gotta kick the ball around. Energy bar time. He’s gotta tinker with his gear. Crap, the sharpen isn’t right on these skates, they need to go back to the trainer. Do we have any more waxed 108” laces?
Nervous energy rules some people.
Speaking of nervous energy…
It’s like all the nerves and anticipation and impatience build and build while Peter’s tying his laces, and suddenly he just needs to make like a Hanson brother and let a burst of possibly disconnected words fly before reverting back to whatever he was doing.
(NSFW language below - I mean, obviously, it’s Slap Shot)
The verbal release is more for his own sake than anything else.
And finally, there’s…
And by “The Captain” I don’t necessarily mean “The Captain,” I mean “The Guy Who Thinks He Needs To Give A Speech” before the game. It might be The Captain, or even A Captain, but it doesn’t have to be.
But with gear on and the coach out of the room, this guy feels the need to perform his little soliloquy. How this goes over strictly depends on how well liked he is around the room. Guys can rally around a guy who doesn’t over-talk, or a generally well-liked guy, or a guy who consistently shows up on the ice. But when it’s some inconsistent plug, or some self-appointed leader, it gets eye rolls and ignored.
If it's coming from the latter type of guy, you best hope The Monk still has his headphones on. You wouldn’t want him going into the game frustrated.
Feature photo courtesy of Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports