What is "Chirping" in Hockey?
In any sport, there's an element of trash-talking designed to unnerve the opponent and get him thinking about
something other than the game at hand. Hockey insults are known as "chirps," and players use the best hockey
chirps on ice rinks all across North America. The basic theory behind any kind of trash-talking is that, by
disrupting your opponent's concentration and confidence through chirping, you gain a competitive edge that might
just help you win. (Not to mention that chirping can be just plain fun, as long as the insults aren't mean or
degrading.) Hockey chirps are common from peewee hockey all the way through the NHL, and the funniest chirps are
told and retold, just like good jokes.
These days, of course, we are sensitive to any insults based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the
like, and these kinds of chirps won't be tolerated by refs, coaches, or parents. Aside from the fact that such
insults are truly hurtful, a youth or high school player might find himself ejected if a ref hears something
objectionable. Plus, your goal isn't to make your opponent so mad that he wants to beat you more than anything;
instead, you just want to rattle him a bit so he's inside his head instead of focused on his game play.
It should go without saying that chirping at the refs is a recipe for disaster. You're not doing your team any
good from the locker room, after being sent off the ice. Just because you hear NHL players doing it doesn't mean
it's okay in lower leagues.
Good Hockey Chirps
The best hockey chirps are witty and poke fun at a player's skills or lack of experience. There's a whole
lexicon of insulting names specific to hockey:
- A bender is a player who is relatively new to skating, so his ankles bend inward.
- A duster is a player who sits on the bench—gathering dust—and doesn't get on
the ice much.
- A plug is a useless player.
- A pigeon is a player who doesn't create his own chances, but feeds off the garbage created
by others to score.
- A pylon is an immobile player around whom everyone else skates.
- A sieve is a goalie who lets too many shots through.
Funny hockey chirps are often built around these names—for example: "Hey, Swiffer called. They want their
duster back." A skilled chirper will weave in these names in many different and ingenious ways.
The best hockey chirps are invented on the spot, but there are quite a few classics that a player can fall back
- "I've seen better hands on a clock."
- "I've seen bigger hits in Little League."
- "I've got more ice in my drink than you've seen all game."
- "You're like the Titanic: you look good until you hit the ice."
- "That blue line sneaks up you quick"
- "Your ankles move more in your skates than you do on the ice, you bender."
There are also a few classic goalie chirps, to be aimed at the guy between the pipes:
- "Hey goalie, I've seen coupons that save more than you."
- "You should switch to Geico. You'll save more."
A truly great chirp inspires laughter even in the teammates of the insulted player, making it more frustrating
for the target of the insult. Getting the refs to laugh is an even bigger bonus.
It is important to note that if you start chirping on the ice, your opponents will probably retaliate: be
prepared for some hockey insults to come your way. Then it's time for a little verbal jiu-jitsu. A great
comeback can blunt the effect of a chirp or even turn the tables on the chirper. Just remember that on-ice
banter should be in good fun, as much as possible.