When it comes to their sticks most NHL players have their own personal voodoo they apply in hopes of working some puck magic.
The first thing Detroit's Brett Lebda does when he gets a new shipment of hockey sticks is grab a marker and write an inscription on the back.
''I have a little superstition,'' says Lebda, who has religiously adhered to the practice since he was kid playing on the frozen ponds of Illinois. ``Just something that means something to me.''
Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, makes sure he takes his three kids with him every time he steps on the ice, writing their names -- Matthew, Braeden and Taryn -- in neat script on the nob of his stick.
And on the Florida Panthers' bench, there are players who won't touch a stick if there's anything written on it.
''We have some guys who won't [even] let me put a number on their stick,'' equipment manager Rob McLean says. ``Whether it's bad luck or what, I don't know.''
Welcome to the modern NHL, where players will call on everything from old myths to new mechanics if they think it will give them an edge.
Other leagues have forced YouTube to yank fans' uploaded videos off the site, claiming copyright violations. An NFL spokesman told The Toronto Star, for example, that YouTube recently agreed to take more than 3,000 clips featuring NFL game footage off the site.
Under the terms of its deal with NHL, YouTube will filter out unapproved video clips and give the league the option to remove them. Kevin Donahue, YouTube's vice president of content, said the NHL may decide in many cases that from a promotional standpoint it would serve its interests to keep fan-made clips up and running.
"The NHL can either say, 'Yeah, I want that taken down,' or 'Leave it up because it's a great promotional value,' " Donahue said. "What's interesting is that they are making a programming commitment to deliver a significant amount of video clips that, to their benefit, will make more people aware of the games going on through the season."
On a Web site that drew about 30 million unique visitors in October, the NHL-sponsored "Plays of the Week" uploaded on YouTube had drawn more than 83,000 page views by Friday morning.
Another highlights collection on NHLVideo, titled "Best Hits of November," had drawn more than 81,000 page views by Friday.
Overall, the NHL videos rank well below uploaded sightings of Paris Hilton or video clips of English Premier League soccer in terms of page views.
Yet marketing professionals and academics who study online marketing opportunities called the NHL's partnership with YouTube a smart move.
"I think the appeal of YouTube is it's not a 90-minute or two-hour broadcast of the games. It really packages the excitement and action on ice in small, kind of digestible segments," said Andy Rohm, a marketing professor at Northeastern University. "With the younger demographic, we're dealing with a generation that's kind of characterized by media-consumption ADD. So it's really, I think, a smart vehicle with which to reach these people."
Well like I said, that clarifies it... somewhat. Hopefully the league will take a very liberal view of fan generated stuff using their footage. Personally, I feel this kind of viral video marketing by fans helps the NHL greatly and unless something is done with their footage that's just plain inappropriate those of us out here in the internet nether regions should be allowed to continue putting stuff out that reflects our passion and love of the sport. It should be and I believe it will be a win - win proposition for all involved.
This little stunt is bound to ruffle a few of those oh so sensitive feathers at the league office...
That will probably end up costing Peter Schaefer about... 1,000 buckaroos ...out of the old Christmas fund he's been building up.
Frustrated with the officiating during the Sens' 6-2 loss to the Caps, Schaefer placed a towel on the end of his stick and waved it after Dean McAmmond was sent to the penalty box in the third period for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Schaefer wasn't penalized by Kevin Pollock or Justin St. Pierre, but it was shown on TSN's broadcast of the game. NHL officials believe Schaefer challenged the referees' authority and the towel waving was embarrassing.
"I just think it hurts the integrity of the game," NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom said yesterday. "I know (Schaefer) was doing it in a humorous way and he was just frustrated. If our guys had seen it ... then he would have been given a penalty because I don't think he was waving the white towel at the Washington bench."
The Senators were upset because they believed a goal by Washington's Matt Bradley in the first period shouldn't have counted because Alexander Ovechkin was offside before Antoine Vermette gave the puck away.
Murray also complained that Anton Volchenkov beat the Caps on what should have been an icing play before Chris Clark scored his second goal of the night to give the Caps a 3-1 lead in the second.
"I think we just got frustrated with the whole situation," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. "You start getting a lot of penalties, you don't like the calls and you get frustrated with the whole situation. Then it all starts to snowball on you. I believe that's what happens with us."
There have been complaints from players around the NHL that the standard of officiating has changed since league GMs met last month in Toronto.
"You so much as touch a guy with a stick right now and you're getting a penalty," said an Ottawa player late Tuesday night.
Personally, I think it's pretty funny. Sure the league has to respond but hopefully they won't come down too hard on him.
I mean, come on, it is the Christmas season afterall.
I think the big fear is the possibility that as these fighting specialists continue to get bigger, faster, stronger, someone is going to get laid out for good one of these daze. The league can't afford for that to happen so I imagine we'll see fighting completely out of the NHL in the next couple of years.