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Why Trash Talk Affects Hockey More Than Any Other Sport



The New York Jets ran their mouths like there was no tomorrow in the lead up to this years NFL season, and the HBO show Hard Knocks did nothing but add fuel to the fire.

When they finally lost 10-9 in a penalty-filled, defense-first fuckupathon, possible criminal/outspoken disciple of god Ray Lewis (of the Baltimore Ravens) made it very clear that they beat the Jets because of all the trash talk leading up to the game.  Or something like that.

Nope, he's not fired up without the trash talk.

Here’s some thoughts on trash talk:

Basically, it means the very least in baseball, then football, then basketball, and means the absolute most in hockey of all the four major sports.

In baseball, there’s next to zero physical confrontation.  Sure, you can throw at a guy or make the odd rough slide, but unless you get that once-a-month (once a season?) chance to bodycheck the catcher, its just not a game where playing angry or with a vendetta helps.

And football’s next in line.  It sounds weird, but hear me out:

This is the most intense of the four main sports.  You only play 16 games a year, and if you’re insanely lucky, up to three or four more.  So players play a MAX of 20 times in 365 days.  So understandably, these guys are going buck-wild balls-to-the-wall every game.  Especially when you consider most guys only play on one side of the ball, so they’re looking at 30-40 minutes of playing time, and half of that time runs off between plays…. maybe they play for 15 minutes (stats show it’s considerably less, by the way.  I’m going high there), 20 times a year at most.

So when there’s a personal vendetta, are you telling me they have another gear that they’re choosing not to use in those normal games?  That they have a “oh, well now I’m really gonna try” option?  They live in that mode.  They’re try to blow up everyone.

The only reason trash talk matters at all is if they’re looking to pick on a guy (the way Tom Brady isolated that smack-talking safety a year or so ago), but for the guys in the trenches?  There is no other gear.  They simply can’t try harder.

So for the perfect formula for smack-talking to matter, you need a schedule that’s long enough that guys don’t bring their A-game every night, with enough physical contact to track down someone and settle the score.

It helps if you're strong enough to call people out and back it up, I guess.

Basketball and hockey both have 82 game seasons that get twice as good in playoffs (showing guys are capable of stepping it up on occasion), because the games suddenly matter more.  And there’s no one in the world that would claim basketball, with all it’s bumping, is more physical than hockey.

Which means, ding ding ding, your winner by technical decision, hockey is the sport that trash-talk affects the most (especially when you consider how often basketball employs set plays, and hockey allows for guys to go out of their system to take a run at a guy).

Which, in turn, might be why hockey players give the most boring interviews – they know there can be physical repercussions for their words. 

Don’t get me wrong, football players have to answer the bell too, but they answer it regardless.  My hit total in a hockey game on any given night can fluctuate between zero and what, 10, 15, and that’s my call.  So if I’m angry…. heads up.  And by “me” I mean “someone who’s tough enough to hit with force.”


What do youuu think, oh-wise contributor to Bourne’s Blog?  Agree?  Am I way off on this one?

Anywho, for more of my recent typings, here’s my latest piece for Puck Daddy, on New Gear Day, the time right after making a team where they give you all the good stuff.

Goooo Tuesday!


25 Responses to “Why Trash Talk Affects Hockey More Than Any Other Sport”
  1. Kennedy says:

    I think you are spot on but I think you missed one key point that helps your case. Hockey is free flowing. Ray Lewis destroyed Keller at the end of the game because Keller came into an area that was Lewis’s to cover. If he runs an out pattern, there’s no Ray Lewis there to hit him. Hockey on other hand has less restriction (see James Wizniewski, a Dman, destroying Seabrook behind Blackhawks redline). If you want a piece of a guy in hockey you can find him. Always. And you have a stick. I know when I played that all those little taps and tugs and slashes started to add up and could escalate the boiling point.

    Best trash talk story I ever heard was from the Penguins-Leafs series way back. Jagr who wore 68 in honour of the year Russian tanks rolled into the Czech Republic and his fathers resistance to Russian rule took abuse all series from Dmitri Yuskevich – who’s Dad apparently was riding in one of those tanks. Apparently Yuskevich kept reminding Jagr that is was entirely possible that his Dad beat Jagr’s Dad senseless or whatever. Now that’s some serious trash talk!

  2. AiH says:

    What about boxing? Or is that of the already “going buck-wild, balls-to-the-wall” ilk? Or would you classify boxing as a subset of hockey?

  3. KarenfromRochester says:

    I’m probably breaking some kind of rule here, but I have a comment on the PD article. I’m too lazy right now to go through the whole sign-up-for-a-Yahoo-ID thing, so here it is: Every place I’ve worked, there have been the SAME 3 groups of people like the ones in the article!.. Only you can translate them into what I do for a living. Hilarious! Expecially since I work with guys. You have the “normal” ones who do their own correspondence, filing, etc… The “gear bitches” are the dudes who monopolize the administrative assistant’s time for a day to do one piece of correspondence. The “meh” guys are the ones who say “screw it, I’ll just pick up the phone and call this person”. : O )

  4. AndrewJ says:

    “fuckupathon” is my new favorite word. Please patent it immediately – I’m happy to pay royalties on a gem like that.

    Totally agree that hockey is most affected by trash talk. Two words – Sean Avery. Yes, he’s frequently a shithead, but he has to be willing to back it up. Compare that to Nyjer Morgan, who got clotheslined in a baseball fight and preened like he’d knocked out the early 90′s version of Mike Tyson. Idiot.

    Ron Artest might be the basketball exception. Talking trash to the crowd (lying down on the scoring table counts, no?) then fighting with any random number of fans counts for something. But by and large, hockey wins hands down. Even in rec league. I’ve seen guys get hit relentlessly in a no hitting game for opening their mouths or being chippy in general.
    Also, why mock defensemen in the PD article? A little bitter? Or just wanting more excitiment for new gear?

  5. Matt says:

    AiH, that definitely is completely different. Hell, the WHOLE POINT of boxing is to beat the crap out of the other guy. The sole objective of the entire sport, which is totally opposite to hockey.

  6. MWL says:

    I agree…there is way more leeway in other sports, especially in the media. Look at the shit Ozzie Guillen says, or Ochocinco, or any number of idiot basketball players. Then you have good ole Sheriff Bettman suspending Sean Avery for making a comment as a jilted lover. Poor guy…

  7. Matt says:

    The funny thing is, Nyjer Morgan played major junior for Regina in the Dub. Maybe that gave him extra confidence to challenge the pitcher?

  8. Kennedy says:

    One thing to remember – who has big time media deals with the NFL, NBA, NCAA? ESPN.

    Who broke the Reggie Bush story? Yahoo sports – who doesn’t broadcast anything and is less beholden to the leagues.

    I’m not saying ESPN covers things up but I have a feeling they don’t investigate as much as they could. You don’t think ESPN people in dressing rooms after games don’t know who the agents are? Give me a break.

  9. Derek says:

    I agree with you on trash talk. I always love when trash talk leads to non-fighters fighting each other. One of my favourite stories (myths?) is the Savard-Crosby visor one. Savvy trash talks Sid’s visor, Sid takes it off and Savard pussies out.

    The PD article was good stuff too. Reminded me of a theory I’ve heard around the NHL when finding out about prospects. Ask the equipment guy. Coaches and players won’t give you an honest answer most of the time, but how a guy treats the equipment guy is really telling.

  10. Hooks Orpik says:

    I think there are exceptions to the rule — you mentioned Brady, another good one is Kobe. Piss off or slight Kobe and he’s going to absolutely bury you and let you know that he’s doing it.

    But overall I’d agree hockey’s the best sport. Don’t know if this is an real or imagined, but I think the style comes into play too; in hockey you only play about a minute and then you’re dog tired and change up. I’ve found that towards the end of the shift if you chirp somebody in the faceoff circle (or get chirped) it can kind of fire you up and keep you going a little longer and harder than otherwise (that’s what she said).

    Anyways, that just be my weird angle on it, but I think that hockey players play until fatigued and then go the bench also adds to it. Getting pissed can inspire that extra burst of “F YOU!” when you’re out there making that last push before they clear the zone and you get changed off the ice.

  11. PVeltkamp says:

    When I read “trash talk effects football less then hockey”, I though, “man you are fucking stupid!”, but your argument is good and it makes A LOT of sense. I don’t know if I agree with you 100% still but I see where you are coming from.

    I think for football the trash talk might be just a bit more added motivation, you pay that much more attention to detail, and when you are dog tired and bruised up in the 4th quarter you find the strength to do the right thing based on some dumb ass saying the wrong things leading up to the game that week.

    I think your right that football players are going balls to the walls all the time every game, where I disagree, is that there isn’t another level to go to. I think there is always another level.

    One place I do agree with is how much it can effect hockey. I know when I played if I had a hate on for someone that guy was going to have the worst game he ever played, between trash talk and physical play hockey players can really skull fuck there opponents.

  12. Jbrown says:

    I’d say you’re right, but (and I know I’ve brought it up before) but WHAT do you say during hockey smack talk? Especially the on-ice banter. I need to know!

  13. keith w. says:

    No other sport either likehockey where players can lean over the bench and chirp each other almost face to face before going back on the ice.

  14. Greg says:

    Another factor you have to consider is how many times you play that team in a season or in the play-offs. In football you play your division opponents twice and everyone else once and then your play-off game is one and done. In hockey, the Islanders can play the Rangers 7-9 times a year. That alone builds animosity. Then add in a best of seven play-off round where you can play the same team 7 times in a week and a half span. There is a lot of anger and trash talk going around and the physicality gets more and more intense as the series progresses.

  15. Frank says:

    Justin, I agree….I think even playing at a recreational level, nothing can piss you off more than trash talk and general dirty playing than hockey….

    Also on Football….because you only play each team, what maybe twice a season, is someone really going to hold a grudge for something that happened in a game 10 months earlier versus hockey or basketball where you play teams in you conference multiple times in the regular season plus the potential playoff series?

    Hockey I think is also unique in that you have more ways to “physically’ trash talk thanks to the hockey stick….you can hook, slash, spear, crosscheck, etc to piss somebody off… the other sports, you don’t have the opportunity to use sporting equipment to piss opponents off so easily…..although I guess in baseball, a pitcher can “accidentally” hit a batter.

  16. mikeB says:

    Its also more fun to run your mouth in hockey than in other sports, its easy to run it on the bench and get on the ice to do something about it. In other sports stoppages in play do take something away and kinda break up the intensity.

  17. Deirdre says:

    Since I introduced him to hockey my hubby’s been paying less and less attention to football because he realized his players were kinda wimpy. I mean seriously – 20 games *if you’re lucky*.

    This article actually made me think that maybe there was something else to football…hmmm, will have to make him read it!

  18. Mike says:

    Totally agree with Frank about the rec league trash talk. Playing against the same teams week after week and hanging out for a couple beers after, often with said opponents, leads to a complacency. You get one jackass on the ice who runs his mouth and suddenly the intensity goes up and it’s game on. Thank god for trash talk. Get’s the heart pumping.

    That said, F-you # 19 on the Chiefs. You take it way too far. My mother is a saint and doesn’t even know a prison inmate.

  19. GBCK says:

    Think you’re spot on here. Let’s keep in mind if you run your mouth in hockey someone can take off their gloves and bare knuckle punch you in the mouth. Then they must feel shame (bet he never says that to me again) for 5 minutes. Find me a parallel to that. They have covered knuckles in UFC!

  20. Danimal says:

    side bar: Bourne, how you feeling about Belanger joining the Yotes for a season? yay/nay/meh?

  21. Sandwiches1123 says:

    I’m going to argue against your middle two sports. I agree that baseball trash-talking is the least effective. Most guys are pretty docile. Also, its hard to chirp a guy when you play him once every other year or something like that. Most trash talk comes from inside your own division and really, its usually talk from the catcher (see: Pierzynski from the White Sox).

    Basketball would be next. There is a fair amount of trash talk in basketball (just watch Reggie vs. The Knicks ESPN 30 for 30), but I don’t see it being effective because it lights fires under guys who burn the heck out of the guy doing the chirping. Or it results in the Melee.

    Football is higher than Basketball because a LB like Lewis or DT like Suh can start chanting and chirping at QB’s and Linemen. For some guys, it can get in their heads. If you consider guys who have great explosive moves who can speed passed a lineman on the outside, trash talk can really be effective from the defensive point of view. I disagree with you that there isn’t more than one gear in the NFL. Case in point is a guy like Randy Moss or Terrell Owens. When motivated, these guys can burn DB’s and Safeties all over the place. When playing a team they are less competive, these guys can disappear. Moss is a great trash talker.

    Hockey is tops though. Sean Avery, I rest my case

  22. crushasaurus says:

    I just loved trash talk. The amount of shit that came out of my mouth when playing soccer was just ridiculous, but because I dished out so much, nothing anyone said could affect me or my play.

    If words are truly affecting on-field matters, that suggests a lack of personal focus and a case of thin-skinneditis, which is worrying for anyone who is in the public eye so much.

  23. ScottO says:

    hockey is by far the sport that trash talk affects most. every chip physical or verbal pisses the opponent off that much more. any comment about their fucked up teeth or face, their dick hands that cant do anything with the puck, what you did with their mother/sister/girlfriend, how they should be riding the pine or even every little slash hook butt-end elbow or whatever else you can throw in will get them that much closer to taking stupid penalties or even dropping the gloves ready to brawl. And since a power play can affect the game big-time, working a man untill he blows up can play a huge role in a win.


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