Have you ever wondered why NHL hockey players shake hands with each other after a hard-fought four to seven game playoff series? It seems like it would be a perfect place to “rub it in” or “throw salt on the wounds” if you’re on the winning team. It also seems like if you were on the losing team, you’d want to either beat up the player(s) you hate on the other team, or just get off the ice as soon as you can. Plus, if you’re on the losing team, you have to stand there and watch the other team celebrate after winning the series. That’s got to be tough.
After watching the players from the 2022 Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche shake hands with players from the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning after last night’s final game, I started to wonder how this NHL hockey tradition began.
A few years ago, reporter Jeff Z. Klein did some research and posted an article on NYTimes.com. Here’s the link to his article, which gives you some background as to how far back this excellent display of sportsmanship goes back in the NHL. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/sports/hockey/tracing-the-origin-of-handshake-lines-in-the-nhl.html
I play hockey recreationally, and we get in that handshake line after EVERY game we play. But, we are not playing for money, for careers, for awards, for the Hall of Fame, or for a career after our playing days are done. We’re playing for fun. Sure, it gets nasty at times. There is contact between players even though we play in a non-checking league. There are times you think the other team is playing dirty. There are times when players do want to fight each other during a game, although that is discouraged by long suspensions from being able to play if one does decide to “drop the gloves.”
We actually PAY to play in our recreation league in the Sobe Ice Arena at The Fiesta on Rancho on Wednesday nights. NHL players on the Vegas Golden Knights and AHL players on the Henderson Silver Knights are getting paid to play, and they ARE playing for a championship, for their careers, a possible place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, or for a career after hockey. That’s why I choke up a little bit when I watch professional hockey players participate in that age old hockey tradition of shaking hands after a hard-fought playoff or championship series. And that’s another reason why I love hockey!
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