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Goalies and “Gumpisms”

August 16, 2010 | Field Hockey Canada |

Goalies and “Gumpisms”

August 16, 2010

By Cecelia Carter-Smith

I’m old enough to remember the original “gumpisms.”

The legendary quirky ice hockey goalie, Lorne “Gump” Worsley existed long before the famous (Forrest) Gumpism, “My momma always said that life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The longtime New York Rangers goalie had an eerie resemblance to comic strip character Andy Gump (The Gumps were a nationally syndicated comic strip with a 42 year run – born in 1917 and put to bed in 1959).

“The Gumper,” like so many of his goaltending contemporaries was somewhat zany. He was reluctant to wear a mask.  “My face is my mask,” deadpanned the Montreal-born Hockey Hall of Famer. And when he talked about his occupation he quipped, “The only job worse (than goaltending) is a javelin catcher at a track and field meet.”

Other quirky NHL goalies included Jacques Plante, the architect of the mask. He used to knit in the locker room. And Glenn Hall threw up before every game. Patrick Roy talked to his goalposts and skipped over all the lines on the ice as he settled into his “house.” Gilles Gratton refused to play when the moon was aligned in the wrong part of the sky. And then there was Gary Smith. He showered between every period.

I wondered. Do our national field hockey goalies have any rituals? Quirks? Superstitions? Any Gumpisms?

Long time national team tender, Mike Mahood shared a “secret” with Gary Kingston, journalist for The Vancouver Sun. “The fast talker” convinced the media that he talked to his goalposts and crossbar. He had names for them. Bob, Jim, and Frank. And the media swallowed it. For eight years.

The 12 year national veteran was considered a good quote by the scribes. He filled their notebooks. Then he fessed up. He really didn’t have names for his “friends.” But, the “secret” worked. And field hockey got some deserving attention. Gump Worsley would have loved this guy.

I asked men’s national team tender Dave Carter about his rituals. “Like Patrick Roy I always skip over the field hockey lines on the pitch as I walk to and from my goal during the start of the game or at halftime,” said the Vancouver B.C. St. George’s High School graduate. “I don’t really have a good explanation for it but, that’s usually the way with most superstitions. You do it one time and then years later you forget you started it at all but, by then you wouldn’t dare change it.”

By his own admission “goalies are quite a bit different than field players. We often spend a lot of time in our own thoughts.”

“What about routines?” I asked.

 “I always put my right kicker on before my left, and my right pad on before my left” said the UBC grad. “Unlike field players who like to get “amped up” for every game, I’m generally pretty quiet right before we walk out (of the locker room).

“I generally try to stay composed and calm. I like to listen to casual, laid back music that calms down my nerves,  although in reality my nerves are going crazy anytime I suit up for Canada.”

“And what about tournament play,” I queried. “Any superstitions?”

Without hesitation, the Vancouver Hawks Club player replied, “During the 2009 Pan American Cup (where Carter was awarded goalie of the tournament) that qualified us for the 2010 World Cup, I wore a St. Christopher’s medal that my ex-girlfriend had given me against Argentina. I just figured any extra help could do.

“We ended up winning that game in extra time so I wore it again against the USA in the final. And once again we won in extra to qualify for the World Cup.”

Continued the tender, “I tried wearing it again in Salta (Argentina), but we didn’t get the same results. So I start over.”

The  28 year old stated, “I do definitely stick to any piece of jewellery or clothing that has been with me when we’ve won.”

In Lorne Worsley’s heyday it was not “uncommon to have more rituals than teeth.” The Gumper would consider the modern-day goalies – field and ice – quite sedate in comparison. In fact, Darren Pang retired Chicago Black Hawks goaltender, and presently a part-time TSN playoff analyst and colour commentator for the St. Louis Blues considers “goalies much more normal now.”

They still remain an unique breed, however. And that’s good.

Especially for scribes.