Is there really a “code” in hockey? What about in life?

Is there a “code” in professional hockey?

There sure is!  If you hurt someone you had better be expected to “answer the bell” and fight with them.  If you are challenged to fight in this scenario, the code states you must oblige.  If someone on the opposition runs over your goalie, or even sprays them with ice while stopping, you have to address that in whatever means possible… That is what the code says.

Personally, I detest the code,  I think the referees and the league need to address these situations and leave the players to play the game, and not put them in a position where that have to police it too.

But how does the code transcend to our everyday lives?  Or does it?

Last night at ball hockey, the team I play for was losing 7-0 at the end of the first period, with zero shots on goal, we were getting destroyed.  Part way through the second period, the other team started playing in a manner that I felt went against the “code” in hockey.  It started when they had two players standing on our blue-line or goal-sucking as it is referred to, and a little later they kept on us (which is fine) however, they took some slapshots at our players and goalie from quite close to the net and even though the game had clearly been theirs since about the 2 minute mark of the 1st period they ran into our goalie a couple times and played us like the score was 0-0.

For those of you who have played ball hockey, or any competitive sport for that matter, you would know that it’s not cool to run up the score on your opposition.  I think it’s in poor taste. 

When I looked around the bench of my team I noticed that no one seemed concerned that this team was running up the score and taunting us after each easily scored goal.  In the 20 plus years I have played in ball hockey leagues, the number one cause for altercations is poor sportsmanship and showing up your oppponent.

But since I play on this team for fun (trust me, getting hammered night in and night out is not fun), I left it until I realized the importance of taking action.  You see we are not a team.  We are a bunch of individuals who play on the same team.  When a few bad plays occur, the rest of the guys get down and we fall apart.  When something good happens, a good save, or shot block, or playing tough legally, then it rises the spirits of the boys and we play better.

So I went out with about three minutes left in the game and the first guy who came into the zone, dekeing through players like he was Wayne Gretzky, also the number on his back (99), I reached for the ball with my stick, and leaned into him throwing him to the ground with my other arm.  Clearly playing the ball, any incidental contact is allowed in the rules.  In ball-hockey we call that playing tough.  I this case, I called it sending a message.

I went over to help him up and instead gave him an earful about respect, good sportsmanship and being kind.  “We’re padding our stats” was his response.  Okay.  Next play, different guy went flying until I had knocked over 4 guys in the next minute and a half, each time while playing the ball and each time I berated the guy for his teams lack of sportsmanship.  I was following the code.  They eased up the last minute of the game and passed the ball around instead of trying to score.

After the game had ended, I lined up, shook hands with the opposition and made my way into the dressing room, only to see that my mini-rampage at the end of the game might just have had its desired effect.  The team was quite fired up and were talking about what I had done.  I explained to the guys about the code and that this team that showed us up tonight had been in the league for quite a few years and as such, we 100% poor sports.  They knew better.  

I went on to explain to the guys that as a team we have to stand up for each other.  We have to not let other teams embarrass us like that and when they do, we need to respond as a team would – whether that means we step up the play and be more physical, or we play better, or at 9-1, when they come into the zone and try to deke through us, we just drop them… They’ll get the message.

I’m a team guy.  In sports and at work.  It’s all about the team.  There are not individual winners in sports and work, there are only team wins and I recall after I left the government, my first switch, I spent the better part of a year trying to get that team mentality into the unit I managed.  I was merely a piece of the puzzle and the more my staff realized we are only as good as our weakest member, I saw the team supporting each other and working better and better until they became this smooth gelled unit with unlimited potential.

I want this ball-hockey team that I have joined to work better together.  To communicate and to succeed.  It’s been 2 tough seasons for them and they have the players but they lack the cohesiveness and the strategy.  I can bring both of them.  I coached hockey for 8 years and I can set up an air tight strategy for the worst of the worst teams.  For this team it shouldn’t be so tough.  

By seeing me willing to stand up for our team and blocking shots, knocking guys over, making key defensive plays and showing focus each shift I’m hoping other guys will want to do that too.  When you’re part of a losing team, you sometimes lost sight of how to win.  Winning is fun.  Losing sucks.  But I’ll happily take a loss if we try… If the effort is there.  As I’ve said before, I hate to lose more that I like to win.  

So is there a code in life?  I think so.  I think if you are part of a team – work, friends, family, sports – you sometimes need to prove yourself to your teammates in order to keep them on track.  You light a fire and get everyone united towards the same goal.  Whether you bail them out by completing a project for them, or standing up for a teammate in a non-violent way, you’re doing something that others either didn’t know how to do, were afraid to do, or were unable to do.  

I’ve always hated in sports that players used the code for justification for violence, but having just done the same thing – within the rules of sports – I now get it.

When have you stood up for others for the team?


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