If the regular hockey season is responsible for my proclivity for coffee and pinot grigio, then the minor hockey playoff season is to blame for my increasingly regular consumption of energy drinks and tequila.
The intensity of the playoff season is largely due to its unpredictability. Until the regular season league standings are final, we never know who we will face first in the playoffs, when the games will be, where the games will be and what practices will now be added to the schedule – or even if we’ll make the playoffs at all! Hockey dads have no doubt analyzed numerous playoff scenarios and while I’m reasonably certain these scenarios where rhymed off several times over various dinner conversations, I think I tuned out around mid-January!
There is an entirely different atmosphere around playoff hockey, filled with traditions and superstitions. Although most players are too young to sport playoff beards (at least until about Midget level anyway), nothing says ‘playoffs’ to a minor hockey player like a new outrageous hairstyle. I really thought I’d seen the last of the mullet in my high school years, but it makes an unfortunately popular comeback around playoff time. And in striking contrast to the mullet, another playoff favourite is the military buzz. The mane of choice for my two boys was decidedly the “hockey flow”. A respectable playoff flow necessitates serious lock-nurturing of this long-ish hair (meaning, sporting a toque or baseball cap pretty much 24/7 to “get her goin’.”). If you ask me, a flow is just a millennial mullet (but no one is asking me).
Playoff hockey also intensifies players’ irrational behaviours. Superstitions that are typically reserved for just the goalies during the regular season suddenly become major team events during playoffs. It could be the same t-shirt, the same toque or ball cap, and yes, even the same socks, all to be worn with religious regularity and without interruption right through to the Championship game – or elimination (which I am forbidden to speak of except in secret hand signals to my husband). The same goes for seating arrangements in the dressing room, and even in the car during carpools.Those who aren’t quite daring enough to trim their locks (meaning their mom didn’t give them permission) may be otherwise playoff-inspired to tint their locks (if their mom gives them permission). A whole bench of Billy Idol look-alikes. Girls’ playoff hockey hair is certainly not left out in the cold either, as the low-lights in various team colours are decidedly playoff chic.
Is it just me or does it seem that, between the hair, the rituals, the music and the whatnot, the more painstaking the preparation for playoffs, the sooner the team is eliminated from action? I wouldn’t dare say so before or during playoffs – that’s an epic jinx – but sometimes the lead up to the playoffs lasts longer than the playoffs themselves! Oh well. At least their fashions are all set for NHL playoffs, and hopefully I can finally wash those socks!
So what is my best advice for survival of the post-season? Take it one superstition and one tank of gas at a time.
Now, where’s my shaker of salt?