How many times have you seen it? A player loses the puck or his man. The other team scores and the player at fault skates towards the bench with his head down. He then in frustration slams his stick off the boards making a load, echoing noise that catches the attention of everyone in the rink.
What do you think people watching this player think? Sometimes they think that he needs to grow up or is a hot head. At the same time, those same people would probably say that the player cares greatly about the game, and that they will take that passion over the player that does not show his emotion.
I think we are duped sometimes by the reactions players have - specifically why they do them.
A stick slammed off the boards should not be necessarily equated with passion for the game. In my experience these behaviors are often ego saving moves.
3. Avoid negative outbursts to save your pride.
Hockey players don’t need to express negative emotion to show others that they care or are better than the performance. I see this situation a lot (and was a culprit at times, too). A good player goes out and has a tough game. Things are not going well. He is frustrated and believes that he should be outplaying his opponent. So, instead of finding a solution and recommitting to a better performance, the player focuses on his negative emotion to show everyone on the team and in the crowd that he is not on his game and how disappointed he is about it.
The player is trying to send the message that “I’m better than him, he is lucky.” Negative outbursts are a way to show that you are not happy with your performance, but also excuse your performance. I am not playing like normal; if I was I would be winning. It is a way of protecting your pride. And, it is also a giving in to the loss.
Negative outbursts, while they make you feel better momentarily, will not benefit you or your team. And, the reason the player is being emotional; to prove to everyone that he is better than his performance, only makes observers think the player is immature and selfish. Trust me; this is what coaches say all of the time about players that blow up on the bench.
If you are committing some of these negative outbursts think about how you play afterwards. Are you really playing better? And, think about your reputation. Do coaches look at you as a “hothead”, someone they cannot trust in a close game because they are afraid you will lose it and take a penalty? Focus on what your team needs - a good, hard working shift next time out. Not theatrics and drama.