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.

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