Pro hockey players will never be accused of being the best interviews. Clichés delivered in vacant monotones are standard fare. The greats in the game are the most adept at being bland. To listen to Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews is nothing short of painful. "I am just trying to do my job out there." "When we work as a unit, good things happen." "Listen, I couldn't do anything out there by myself."
The way they speak, you'd think they all head home via horse and buggy to some weird jock version of an Old Order Mennonite community where technology is verboten and everybody stares at their boots when they aren't handcrafting a table. Instagram-ready, they are not.
But don't fall for it; it is a ruse. Be it trash talking during the game or chatting on the bench, in the dressing room or at the bar afterward, hockey players have a flair for language. Mostly for their teammates' enjoyment, they invoke a colourful and creative slang that is ever evolving and endlessly entertaining. It is a shame fans rarely get to hear it.
Below is a compilation of hockey slang players use when the mics aren't stuck in their faces.
Apple: An assist on a goal. "Cookie had two apples in the game last night. That is two more than he had in the first half of the season."
Bar Down: A shot that ricochets down off the inside of the crossbar into the net creating a resounding "ping" that can be heard throughout the rink. "Milksy went bar down with authority on the game-winning goal last night."
Beautician or Beauty: A term of endearment for a fellow player based on his performance on and off the ice. "Cheech is an absolute beautician, love that guy."
Beak: Trash talk. "Donnie beaked him all game and buddy just snapped."
Bender: A bad hockey player. The term refers to the player's ankles bending or buckling while trying to skate. "Bo plays 'D' division with a bunch of benders."
Biscuit: The hockey puck. "The net was wide open; you've gotta put the biscuit in the basket!"
Bucket: A hockey helmet. "Yo, 27! Butch Goring called, he wants his bucket back!"
Celly: Celebration after scoring a goal. Some classics are Tiger Williams riding his stick like a horse and Alexander Ovechkin dropping his "hot" stick and warming his hands from the fire. "If I go bar down tonight, I am going to bust out the skeet-shooting celly."
Cherry picker: A lazy, selfish player who camps out at the red line or centre ice hollering for his or her teammates to dish breakaway passes. "Harps, quit cherry picking and help out in the defensive zone!"
Chiclets: Teeth. "Snuggles took a high stick to the chops last night and lost three chiclets."
Clapper: A powerful slap shot. Returning to the bench, a defenceman takes a squirt of water and turns to his d-partner and says, "Next time, I am stepping across the blue line and wiring a clapper top cheese!"
Dangle: The use of a fancy or deft stickhandling move to avoid an opposing player. "Nice dangles on the rookie, Benny."
Dinger: A measurement of chewing tobacco enjoyed by some players. "Lemme pack a dinger before we roll out of here."
Draw: The face off. To win the draw is to gain control of the puck. "I'll take the draw. You haven't won one all game."
Duster: Another term for an unskilled player who doesn't see a lot of ice time and just collects dust sitting on the bench. "I can't stop sneezing since they let that duster play a few shifts."
Fishbowl: A full visor. "Yeah, yeah, everybody's a tough guy with a fishbowl on."
Flamingo: Bailing out of blocking a shot by lifting one leg up and out of the way to resemble a flamingo. "Ronnie, you are the only Canadian flamingo I have ever seen. You gotta block that shot for the boys."
Flow: A lovely head of hair that flows out of the back of a player's bucket. Highly lauded in the state of Minnesota, where the high school hockey championships have an all-hair team. "Walshy's flow doesn't cross the blueline until his skates are at the top of the circle. He has the mane of a stallion."
For the Boys (Girls): The selfless act of a beauty for the benefit of his or her teammates on or off the ice. This could be a priceless chirp to an opposing player, a gritty play in the corner or an act of hilarity in the dressing room. "The team was a little down so I spray tanned myself orange, stuck a 'Make America Great Again' sticker on my bucket and went out to practice. Sometimes, as a registered beautician, you gotta do these things for the boys."
Gino: A goal. "Two more ginos and I hit my contract bonus, boys."
Grenade: A bad pass to a teammate that bounces and flips erratically in their general direction. "Dutch, you trying to get me cut tossing all those grenades my way?"
Grocery Stick: Another term for a player who sees little ice time. Instead, spends most of the game dividing the defence and forwards on the bench similar to separating people's food at the checkout in a grocery store.
Lettuce: Term for a nice head of hair that is not long enough to qualify as flow but is still impressive and longer in length than a salad. "Pass me the mousse. I gotta put some dressing on my lettuce for warm up."
Liney: Refers to the linesmen, whose chief responsibilities on the ice are calling offsides and icings and dropping the puck for face offs. "Liney, you gotta square him up on the draw. He is cheating like crazy."
Lip Sweater: A moustache. "His lip sweater is hairier than his head."
Muffin: A weak shot on net. "Vesa, you gonna let every muffin bounce by you?"
Pigeon: A less skilled player who scores goals by collecting the rebounds or the "trash" of their more talented linemates. "You pigeon, Hyman. My mom could play in this league with Matthews and Nylander."
Pizza: A brutal pass up the middle of the ice intercepted by the opposing team. "Bidini is serving up more pizzas tonight than Little Caesar's."
Pylon: A weak player with limited mobility who resembles a practice pylon used for many drills. "Scotty walked that pylon of a defenceman with a sweet little inside-out dangle.
Salad: A short but nice head of hair. "Hayes is having trouble maintaining his salad now that his hairline is receding."
Sauce: A saucer pass. A touch pass that involves floating the puck over an opposing player's stick like a flying saucer before landing on the ice just before the blade of a teammate's stick. "Nothing but sauce on that pass to Gerbsie on the two on one."
Saucy Paws: Soft hands. Slick moves. "Sudsie has the sauciest paws on the team."
Snipe: A sweet shot that beats the goalie. "Nice snipe, Ralphie."
Stripes: A referee or linesman. Refers to the vertical black and white stripes of their uniforms. "Come on, Stripes, these non-calls are killing me!"
Suicide pass or Suey: A pass that leads the receiving player directly into the line of a punishing bodycheck from the opposition in open ice. "This is Billy's first game back since he was concussed on a suey from Shaner."
Summer Teeth: Refers to the missing teeth and gap-toothed grins of many players. Some are here and some are there. "The ladies must love your summer teeth, Richie."
The Show: The NHL, the big leagues. "I would've had a shot at The Show but I was a late bloomer so I just dominate the benders in beer league."
Top Cheese: The top corners of the net. "Ben sniped top cheese for the win."
Turtle: To avoid a fight by dropping to the ice and covering your head with your gloves, resulting in a position resembling a turtle. Claude Lemieux famously turtled as Darren McCarty exacted retribution for Lemieux's cheap shot on Kris Draper.
Twig: Hockey stick. "The Sherwood 5030 has been my go-to twig for three decades. You can't beat the Coffey curve."
Wheels: A fast and talented skater. "Visser's sister has way better wheels than him." It can also be used as a verb, encouraging a player to skate with the puck by shouting, "Wheel, wheel!"