I feel conflicted. As a person that was educated in the sciences to the post-doctoral level, logic tells me that I can have no effect on the outcome of the SCFseries. I will not be on the ice to put the puck in the net, to block a shot, or like the men-in-stripes, to call for a Devils' Power Play. And yet I have my lingering superstitious doubts.
I was reminded of this superstition when Zach Parise had his own doubts. Zach had to poll the other Devils after we beat our hated rivals as to whether he should touch The Prince of Wales Trophy. Superstition says that it is bad luck to touch this trophy. The only trophy that you should touch is The Stanley Cup. Zach opted to only have his picture taken next to The Prince of Wales Trophy. No other player touched it either. However this is not a universally held belief. In the 2000 ECF, after trailing our other hated rivals, the Philadelphia Fliers, 3 games to 1, we came back to win the series. Both Marty Brodeur and captain Scott Stevens hoisted The Prince of Wales. This did not prove to give us bad luck. As you all know we went on to beat the Dallas Stars on their home ice to win Lord Stanley's Cup. The winning goal was scored by Jason Arnott, and I was in a bar wearing my #25 white home jersey when it happened.
There are multiple other superstitions surrounding hockey. Red Kelly, former player for the Red Wings and Mapleleafs, later member of the Canadian Parliament and Mapleleaf coach, placed small pyramids below the players bench in the 1970 playoffs. As a science major, I could have told him that Pyramid Power didn't work. I know, I tried it. The Mapleleafs lost that year.
The Red Wing faithful continue to throw octopi onto the ice. In the olden days of hockey it only took 8 wins to gain the Cup. Eight legs for eight wings. While the Red Wings are one of the most successful franchises in sports, I don't know how much the octopi had to do with it. I wonder how much they would have won if there weren't so many arachnophobes in Detroit.
Not all hockey superstitions are at the team level. Sydney Crosby never lets anyone touch his sticks after he has taped them. Bobby Orr would never change his socks when he had a scoring streak going. He would only don a new pair if he failed to score. Patrick Roy used to have a conversation with "the goalies best friend" before every game. (For the ill-informed these are the posts and cross bar.) We all know that he has 150 playoff wins, one record that Brodeur will probably never challenge. Hopefully Marty ties him in Stanley Cup wins this year though.
Ray Bourque, former Bruins and Avalanche player, used to change his laces between every period, never using the same pair twice. He went through 10,956 pairs of laces in his career. He changed his laces in both Stanley Cup Final series for the Bruins vs the Oilers in 1988 and1990, loosing both series. The last pair that he wore was in 2001, against the Devils in the Stanley Cup Final. Persistence paid off. He was the first to hoist the Cup that year, even though he was not the team captain. I was in Vail Colorado when this loss happened. I was not wearing my #25 Jason Arnott white home jersey.
Tradition says that every player on the Cup winning team gets to take control of the Cup for one week. In 1940, the Rangers won it all. Each Rag player urinated in the cup. They didn't win another cup until 1994. This should have made everyone superstitious about treating Lord Stanley's Cup with respect. Marty didn't have this respect in 2003. No, he didn't use the Cup as a urinal. However, he did eat salted and buttered popcorn from the Cup, leaving it stained this way. Langenbrunner had to polish it the next week.
The most widely held superstition in playoff hockey involves "the Beard." This all started in the 1980's with the Islanders' franchise. The Isles would not shave as long as they were in the playoffs. They were allowed to trim it a little after a loss. Adam Oates didn't grow a beard when he played for the Ducks in 2003. He felt that superstition didn't hold. Afterall, every team grew beards, and only 1:16 won the cup. That translates to only a 6% chance of it being effective. Just like the Kings this year, the Ducks were 12 and 2 leading up to the SCF against the Devils. Oates and the Ducks lost that year. And who was felt to have the best playoff beard that year? The Stanley Cup winning defense-man, Kenny Daneyko, playing in his last game. I was wearing my playoff beard that year too, along with my #25 Jason Arnott white home jersey.