Saturday 26 May 2012

Old-Tyme Forwards

We've been looking at some terms that can be used to describe historical hockey players in non-anachronistic ways. It's bad enough to describe a modern player as a "power forward", but for Orr's sake just never, ever do it for a player from the 1910s. It doesn't make sense in the context of the player's time. We've looked at goaltenders and defencemen, and we'll finish up today with forwards. In no particular order:

Goal-getting: A goal-getting forward is one that not only scores goals, but actually goes to the net to get his goals. Hence the name. Herb Jordan is an example of a goal-getting forward.

Combination: A combination forward is an expert passer and playmaker. "Combination play" is an old term that was used to describe when players would pass the puck amongst themselves on an offensive push, rather than relying on individual rushes. The great Winnipeg winger (and first known Metis hockeyist) Tony Gingras is a good example of an early hockey forward who assisted his mates rather than scored goals himself.

Stout: A stout forward is one who uses his body to work his way into the offensive zone. If a defender gets in the way, a stout forward is as likely to go through the opponent than around him. He is not necessarily a dirty player, but is a physically punishing one. Bert Russell is a good example of a stout forward.

Backchecking: A backchecking forward is one who takes his defensive responsibility at least as seriously as his offensive duties. "Checking back" is perhaps a surprisingly old term, and forwards were lauded for taking defensive work seriously from the beginning of the organized game. Jack Marks is an example of a backchecking forward.

Skating: A skating forward is a player whose primary game feature is his skating ability. It's not just about speed, of course, but agility as well. While Sinclair 'Speed' Moynes was remarkably fast, his control was terrible and thus probably shouldn't be considered an exceptional skater. Hobey Baker, on the other hand, was known as an outstanding skater, both fast and effective, and is a good example of this type.

Side-shot: A side-shot forward is a gifted scorer, typically a winger, who works from the corners and side of the net. He relies more on his shot to score goals than he does on positioning. Gord Roberts is a good example of a side-shot forward.

Peppery: A peppery forward is an ornery customer, who is generally a physical player, but not clean. He is not afraid to use his fists or his stick when an opponent does something he doesn't like. Peppery is a term often used at the time, and like many terms used today, it's really a euphemism for "rule-breaker" and "dangerous player." Cully Wilson was a good player, but his terrible temper makes him a good example of this type.

Stickhandling: A stickhandling forward is one who controls the game by controlling the puck. It's difficult to remove the disc from his possession. Odie Cleghorn was a noted stickhandler, and used his ability to both score goals and set up his linemates effectively.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Old-Tyme Defencemen

Last time, which was quite a time ago (thanks, tax season!), I suggested some terms that could be used to describe the style of old-tyme goaltenders, so that we don't have to resort to modern, anachronistic language when discussing them. Now we can have a look at some names for the defenders.

Hardrock: A hardrock defenceman is a physical player, who uses his body to prevent opposing players from approaching the net. He hits them, and if they get up, he hits them again. Fighting has not always been a part of the game, but body-checking has, and these men do it best. Harvey Pulford is an example of a hardrock defenceman.

Lifting: A lifting defenceman is one who excels at clearing the puck out of his end of the rink by lifting it, hurling the puck high into the air so that it cannot be intercepted by the opposition. While common in the early days of the game, this is a tactic not much used today. The Winnipeg Vics' great defensive pair of Rod and Magnus Flett are both noted for their lifting ability.

Rushing: A rushing defencemen is one who relieves the pressure on his side by rushing the puck up the ice himself. He is generally, though not necessarily, a gifted offensive player. He can either carry the puck all the way to the goal, or pass it off to another player for a scoring chance. Mike Grant is a noted example of a rushing defenceman from the game's early days, and there were many others since this style of play attracted so much attention.

Blocking: A blocking defenceman focuses on preventing scoring chances rather than moving the puck up the ice, but unlike the hardrock defenceman he does not rely on physicality to do so. He uses positional play and stick-checking ability to either block the opponent's path to the goal, or to block his shot. James Stewart is a fine example of a blocking defenceman.

Shooting: A shooting defenceman is one who focuses more on the offensive game, but instead of rushing the puck in to the goal, he possesses a deadly shot that can be used from a distance as well as in close. There are many such defenders in the game today, but in hockey's early years such players were fairly rare. Harry Cameron is one example.

I'm always open to suggestions for additional "classes" of player, if you will. Next time: fowards.
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