Vikulov, Zaytsev ©2020

I don’t like hockey’s handshake tradition. Players try to obliterate their opponent; then, when it’s over, they hold hands, hug, and praise each other. That’s empty talk to me.

The hypocrisy only gets worse when I see that Arthur took this photo (after the Soviet Union crushed the USA, 10-2, at the Olympics) on February 9, 1968. That date marks one of the most confusing periods of my life. I was nine. I’d seen the Detroit riots the previous summer, then suddenly the Vietnam War was bloody as Hell, and Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Memphis (all the while the Beatles were in India preaching love). That was when I realized that most adults aren’t as honourable as they pretend to be.


David Ward authors books like The Lost 10 Point Night and Bay of Hope.

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  1. Postgame handshake: first cousin to the hated post-birthday thank you letters for strange gifts from unmet Aunts…

  2. i should add that i had no idea who the soviet players are in this image. it doesn’t help that they don’t have numbers on their sleeves. then i found a guy on pinterest who was born in belarus but moved to america in 1980. today he lives in minneapolis. i could tell by his postings that he was an expert. he was great. he just rhymed off their names and told me to feel free to ask anytime.

  3. I hate the handshake! Happens after every game I ref. Guys yell for the entire game then suddenly their your friend – non merci.

    1. when i first saw the linseman in this image i thought of you, lowell. i wondered, do they stand there in the event trouble breaks out? or was this guy just passing through? as always, i appreciate your perspective.

  4. I am going to disagree with you here. I like the hockey handshake. Perhaps for some players it is a hallow gesture. On some rare occasions it can be bad like when Milan Lucic threatened some Montreal players after a series loss. I have never played any high level of hockey but in my men’s league we shake hands after every game. Most of the time it is the routine “good game, good game, good game…” but sometimes it is “good game, good game, hey sorry about that hard bump” to which you might get back “no problem.” I have had questionable stuff done to me and I have been guilty of unintentionally crossing the line and doing something aggressive to another. In our environment it helps the healing process and dissipates resentment and anger. You see that jerk that slammed you recognized his mistake, sees you more than just an opponent and that you are a person that has to go to work tomorrow. Boom, potential emotional situation averted. Maybe it is different on the professional level, maybe not… When an NHL playoff series is over I always watch the handshake part. I see a lot of respect for advisories, the battle is over and for a few moments, although the losers would rather break their sticks against the boards, they have to suck it, put on their adult pants and be civil. I think there are some kind, heart-felt encouraging words that are communicated on both sides. Maybe this forced act helps the non-winners with the first steps of dealing with the loss. I can’t stand watching baseball players throwing tantrums in the dugout after they strikeout… smashing things with a bat. Do they do that at home? Maybe the NHL handshake line, like my experience in my level of hockey, takes a moment that could potentially be as bad as the ballistic ball player and quickly sets things back to the correct sportsmanship tone. The handshake line is maybe like counting to ten when you are angry, a forced routine that can quickly change “I am going to get this guy back!!!” to “I wonder what kind of beer there is in the dressing room?” The handshake line is an outlet for repairing, contrition, healing, praise and comradery… at least that has been my experience.

    1. thanks for your wonderful response, tim. i love it, and will continue to give it further thought. one of the best things for a writer, i believe, is when whatever it is they wrote brings a response from a reader such as you have given me here. and not only is your message a beauty, it is 3X longer than the one i wrote that initiated it. thanks again.

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