Can Trash Talk Trump Roughing in the NHL? JULY 10, 2017

Fans of the NHL don’t ask for much when it comes to hockey. After all, fans have seen franchises come and go and  endured season-long lockouts, but what they do ask for is a hefty dose of excitement when it comes to action on the rink.

Attacking play brings us that injection of excitement and entertainment, and players (sometimes literally) leaping in to protect their MVPs by throwing their gloves off and having a fight tends to get the pulse racing as well.


“Campbell Adams fight-1” by Dan4th Nicholas (CC BY 2.0)

Doing this is all well and good, but perhaps the more effective way of getting the edge over your opponent doesn’t revolve around showing that you can lay them flat out on the rink, but more about whether you can get inside their head – a tactic that seems to be underused in the NHL, where chirping (as it is known) can play second fiddle to other ways of getting an edge over your opponent.

Moving on From Chris Pronger…

Perhaps one of the reasons why hockey stars don’t practice their chirping as much as they should comes down to one man called Chris Pronger, who showed how trash talking shouldn’t be done. With his habit of stealing pucks and bad-mouthing refs, he simply came to be regarded as something of a jerk, despite his skills as a defenseman.

Trashtalking though shouldn’t be seen as a negative, despite the manner in which Pronger approached it, especially when you look at some of the great examples of trashtalking from years gone past. There are of course some classic lines from the world of sport, but perhaps the best trashtalking we’ve heard in recent times came out of the mouth of poker pro Will Kassouf, who has made a career out of his charismatic putdown “Nine high like a boss”, which he reeled out in the 888poker WSOP main event last year.

This line not only left his opponents reeling but showed when to use a great putdown, proving that while Pronger didn’t exactly do the world of hockey a favour when he started mouthing off, as an athlete or professional sportsman, you can chirp in a way that leaves you with a real edge against your opponents. For more examples of this, 888poker has come up with an infographic highlighting some of trashtalking’s most memorable applications, from Mike Tyson to Steve Smith.

Aiming Higher than Bad Breath!

Of course, chirping is about an edge and getting one over on your opponent. Think “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” from Ali, or Steve Smith and his “Ice up, son” line. What you shouldn’t really choose is to tell an opponent that they have bad breath (and be caught doing it on a mic!).


“Sidney Crosby” by Dan Dickinson (CC BY 2.0)

Sadly this embarrassment hit one player who is likely to be remembered as one of the greats of the NHL – Sidney Crosby, in this year’s Stanley Cup finals (which the Pens went on to win). While we get that you might not want to get bad breath in your face, using it as a put down not only makes you look like you really need to get better trashtalking lines but also makes you come across as a little bit desperate.

Crosby is a clear example of how not to trashtalk, so perhaps it is up to the likes of Alex Ovechkin to show the NHL how to put down a good one liner that leaves his opponents reeling, getting that psychological boost without throwing a punch.

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