It’s not one of those stories you want to read over breakfast, but the New York Times has an article on the time-honored hockey tactic of sticking a smelly glove in an opponent’s face to piss him off:
The face wash is a baiting tactic that has been around since gloves were invented, or, as the Devils television announcer Chico Resch said, “since hands were invented.”
“It’s a pride issue,” said Resch, a former goaltender, who played for the Islanders and the Devils during his 14-year N.H.L. career. “If I keep trying to rub my hands into your face, you’re going to get angry. The face is sort of an untouchable territory.”
The goal is to so gross out an opponent by making him smell your glove that he does something likely to draw a penalty, like throw a punch.
“It’s gross,” said Montreal center Bryan Smolinski, who has played for eight N.H.L. teams, including the Islanders. “Your hands get sweaty, and your gloves are disgusting. If there’s an annoying player you want to get back at, you just stick your glove in there with that stench and let him smell it a little bit.”
The story says that it was worse in the old days, when gloves were made of more abrasive material and worn all season. The result was a surface that “might well have been 40 grade sandpaper.” How charming. –Jim Buzinski