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There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of team managers across North America who spend hours making personnel decisions in time for the dawn of the new hockey season. Granted, the majority of these managers are in charge of teams with names like ‘Old Puckers,’ ‘Rusty Blades,’ ‘Just the Tips’ and ‘Nine-Inch Males,’ but don’t be fooled: beer league hockey player teams can be downright tricky to put together.
As with any successful organization, you need the right mix, and that means drafting from the following beer league hockey player categories. Which one are you?
Some teams wait until the playoffs to unveil this option. Others go with it right from the opening face-off. Either way, without The Ringer your team is done. The challenge for managers then is convincing a good player to suit up for a bad team. This can be accomplished any number of ways, including promises of goal-scoring glory and awe-inspired teammates. Most effective, however, is to let him play for free. It’s simple math, really. Everyone else pays an extra $50 and then gets a shot at the ‘DD’ Division title.
The Young Guy
At first glance, The Young Guy can easily be mistaken for The Ringer, since he still wears the shorts and socks of his junior or college team. But it’s time for the next phase of life now, and that means holding down an office job. The Young Guy stays in shape for the first half of the year; sadly, an increasingly sedentary existence and late-night partying catches up with him by Christmas. Fifteen or 20 pounds later, he’s just another player, huffing and puffing with the rest of them. Welcome aboard, kid.
The Old Guy
Forget the 50-and-Over league; that’s not for him (even though his gloves reach up to his armpits and he still uses a wooden stick). To be fair, The Old Guy can be an effective player, especially if he’s a wily old guy—a hook here and a chop there—because that’s how they did it when professional athletes were real men. “Eddie Shore… now that was a hockey player! Lost an ear against the Maroons. Sewed it back on himself. Never missed a shift.”
The Tardy Goalie
Hey, thanks for showing up, dude. Only five minutes gone in the first. Not like you play a crucial position or anything. Take your time, [jerk]!
Required only for cheap laughs. On the one hand, you have to admire The Beginner. It takes a lot of courage to buy all brand-new equipment and take up hockey in your 40s. On the other hand, learn to take a pass, man; it’s right on your stick. How does that knock you over? And now you’re friggin’ offside! Not to mention The Beginner beer league hockey player shows up at every game, no matter what time or what day. Sunday night playoff game at 11pm? No worries. Mr. Beginner will be there!
The Complete Psycho
Also good for a few giggles . . . from afar. Most likely a cop or fireman. The complete psycho is capable of anything—running the goalie, challenging an entire bench, a tomahawk chop—it’s all in his repertoire. Do not feed The Complete Psycho; he doesn’t want to be fed. He wants to hunt. And look to him to carry on his act in the bar after the game.
The Naked Guy
Bane of the dressing room. Most players have the courtesy to stretch their hamstrings while sporting—at the very least—a pair of underwear. Not The Naked Guy. He’ll carry on full conversations, and you’d better maintain eye contact like your life depended on it or come face to face with the swinging sausage.
The Guy with the New Girlfriend
An excellent way to lower everyone else’s fees is to load up on a few of these. The Guy with the New Girlfriend will show up to three games, tops, so his payment will contribute to everyone else’s. And it’s not like you’ll lose ice time by putting him on the roster. That said, beware that The Guy with the New Girlfriend might very well turn into The Guy with the New Wife; at which point he’ll never miss another game.
The Minor League Hockey All-Star
Looks promising at a glance as he fools you with reasonably good skills, but after you get zero passes you’ll get the picture. This guy topped out at ‘AA’ Midget and can be spotted by the huge blinders attached to his helmet. Play is characterized by energetic rushes down the wing (no passing), then into the corner (still no passing), behind the net (hey [jerk], I’ve been open for the past 5 minutes!), then into the next corner (everybody has gone back to the bench to watch) followed by a blind giveaway pass to the high slot/breakout pass for the other team. Cut this guy.
The Johnny Try Hard
Great to have on your team but they suck to play against because they’ve somehow managed to keep themselves in ridiculously good shape. They were probably the star of their high school hockey team and won athlete of the year because they played hockey, volleyball and track all in the same year. Guaranteed they have a membership at the ‘Running Room.’ Play is characterized by constant hustle which, if caught off guard, can embarrass the more talented yet fatter player.
The Stanley Cup Champion
This type of player will raise their hands and cheer when he scores. If this is an opposing beer league hockey player you must nip this behavior in the bud by catching him off guard with a sickening open-ice hit that causes him to blow snot bubbles. If The Stanley Cup Champion is on your team, quickly chastise him in front of the other team to let them know that this is not how the rest of your team rolls. Remind him how much of a loser he is the next time he scores by retrieving the puck from the net and presenting it to him in front—of the other team.
The Tough Guy
This guy maxed out at the house-league level, has never been in a fight and is characterized by antagonizing behavior on the ice. In extreme cases he will cheap-shot another beer league hockey player. The fact that your beer league does not allow fighting has given The Tough Guy a false sense of courage. What this guy does not realize is that this will not prevent someone from knocking his teeth out if he cheap shots the wrong guy. There are a number of fun ways to handle this type of player, which all end with him lying on the ice, bleeding, looking for his teeth, and crying.
The Wrong Guy
Not to be confused with The Complete Psycho. This guy shows up, doesn’t say much and pretty much flies under the radar. The kid who gave him the cheap shot will eventually look him up on Hockey DB after his facial surgery and realize he had 355 PIMS in the East Coast League three years ago.
The Gary Roberts
Can be described as being way too intense. The Gary Roberts is one of your better players but is unable to adjust to the lower level of play. At the best of times he will try to coach players on the fly, and at the worst of times he will snap and call his entire team a bunch of house-leaguers. The Gary Roberts believes the game should be played a certain way and despises ‘pond hockey’ style play with no back-checking or positional assignments. Most likely is suffering from a complex of ‘unfinished business’ from his previous hockey career and is looking to capture some shred of glory via the rec-league championship. This guy is probably better off playing with his own kind in a Senior-A league.
The Corporate Guy
At first glance, just a regular family guy: married with three kids, a cush corporate job and fancy car. Once he enters the locker room it’s party time and the latest tales of broads and the good times. Pre-game beer, outrageous stories of hookers from his last weekend in Vegas, to the point where everyone is crying with laughter. The Corporate Guy is Reg Dunlop (Slapshot) meets Chris Farley—raw-raw, kick-their-butt, run-up-the-score, the-ref-beats-his-wife, nonstop chatter on the bench. Has above-average talent and knows it, but is more focused on making sure his teammates show up and enjoy themselves at the post-game festivities at the Brass Pole Ballet. Always carries an extra set of clothes in his trunk.
The Gear Guy
More money than brains. The Gear Guy is a mediocre beer league hockey player who compensates for his poor skating and crappy slapshot by always having the latest, hottest gear. Watching him suit up is like flipping through the Hockey News equipment reviews issue. He starts by stuffing his chubby frame into skintight UnderArmour, followed by massive, ultralight pads. He shows up with shiny new blades every year, claiming that the last pair “just never felt right” and boasting that he feels faster because his new skates weigh only 17 nanograms. A couple of weeks after Ovechkin sports a yellow visor, The Gear Guy shows up with one. Best of all are the sticks: While everybody else does just fine with bargain-rack specials, this dude hauls out a Warrior Kronik before anyone has even heard of it. He sucks, but he’s handy to have around because he carries an extra elbow pad and a spare pair of gloves in his bag.
This guy is absolutely brutal, but since nobody else could be bothered to do all the paperwork and collect the money he gets to play. It’s frustrating to play with The Organizer because he can barely skate, let alone take a pass, but nobody gets mad at him because he’s a really nice guy. He’s often heard in the dressing room saying, “Sorry, guys, that one was my fault,” and if he’s lucky somebody will chip in with something like, “No worries, dude. It’s a team effort.” But what everybody is really thinking is, Hey, man, my grandmother is a better player than you are and yes, you’re right, that was your fault.’ If you’re lucky, The Organizer is usually smart enough to take himself off the ice in critical situations.
Which type of beer league hockey player rattles your cage? Post your comment below and we’ll feature it in the next installment!