How prevalent is on-ice trash talking, and who engages in it?
It emerged during a temporary bout of frustration, either from the direction of the game or for getting whistled for a tripping penalty on Anaheim Ducks energy player Patrick Maroon during the second period of the Stadium Series game on January 25.
“Buddy, you suck at hockey! And you’ve been in the minors for how long? How long? And you’re still on the fourth line?”
Maroon simply smiled as he returned to his bench having earned his team a power play while taking the Kings’ top defensemen off the ice. Though earlier in the game microphones picked up some pointed Ryan Getzlaf criticism of Colin Fraser – “He’s not out here to play, I’ll tell you that much,” he said to an official – post-whistle conversations and verbal barbs between the Southern California rivals aren’t as heated as those that come in games against repeated postseason foes.
“I think there are some teams that [chirp] more,” Doughty said. “I don’t know how much our team does. I think we do it quite a bit. But there are teams like San Jose and Vancouver that probably do it a little more than a team like Anaheim or something like that. There are definitely teams that are more annoying than others.”
And keep in mind there are players who wear different colors but return to the same hometowns and play in the same charity golf tournaments in the off-season, so the trash talking isn’t going to have any implications that last any longer than the game itself.
As Darryl Sutter notably said of a previous rivalry he was involved in as a coach, “Calgary’s captain lived in Edmonton and Edmonton’s captain lived in Calgary. I don’t think there was a rivalry. I figure they all golfed together.’
Which, of course, would soften the poignancy of on-ice chirping.
“It’s so minimal now. I don’t know if there’s any of it,” Sutter said.
“Maybe they’re out on the ice talking to each other quietly or saying something. Now you do it too much, it’s penalties. Four-on-four.”
The players present an alternate view, not that they’re running around talking trash first and playing hockey second.
“If you’re not playing too much, it’s a way to get yourself involved in the game. You feel more into it,” Jordan Nolan said. “It’s a little more enjoyable, and it kind of gets you going a bit. So chirping once in a while is always a good time.”
And while Nolan is involved in his share of post-whistle scrums, Doughty, the team’s top minutes eater, determines that he talks “quite a bit.”
“I’d say pretty much every shift, at least,” he said. “You just develop things over the years playing against guys so often that you get mad at them or whatever, and you’re going to chirp ‘em. Sometimes they’re deep, deep chirps, where maybe you shouldn’t have said ‘em, and then there’s sometimes where it’s just joking around chirps. But there’s a lot of it.”
There are boundaries. Personal, real-life and off-the-ice issues are generally left alone. Players may also be less inclined to reference the Stanley Cups they’ve won, because if you’re digging into your hip pocket for that convenient reply, it means that you’ve been rattled and have come up short somewhere else.
And, sometimes, the best way to get through to an opponent is to not say anything at all.
“I like to try and keep it quiet and mysterious, keep ‘em guessing. Don’t like to make friends out there,” Kyle Clifford said. “Obviously a stare down never hurts once in a while, and then if someone’s being really annoying, I’ll get a few chirps in there.”
“Once in a while some guys, they shy away from it. They just don’t want anything to do with Noley and I, so you kind of see them skating away. But, other guys, yeah, they get into it. Some guys are pretty clever, some guys just make themselves look silly.”
Nolan backed up Doughty’s claim that a particular rival to the north may engage in exchanging barbs more than others.
“All those guys on Vancouver, they’re all pretty yippy – all their tough guys, you could say,” he said. “They’re definitely pretty involved in the game, and that’s why they’re fun games when we play them. It’s always a hard hitting match and stuff going on after the whistle, and that’s usually because guys are barking at each other between benches.”
It’s all left on the ice. Vancouver forward Brad Richardson, who played 255 games for Los Angeles between 2008 and 2013, isn’t engaged in any deep-seeded, profound trash talking that would threaten the off-ice relationships with his former teammates, many of whom he maintains close friendships with.
“Richie’s got a little bit of a mouth on him. He definitely likes to dish it out a little bit,” Nolan said. “But everyone’s pretty good friends with him, so obviously they’re not taking it to heart. But we’re trying to definitely get him off his game, too.”
Other players who can dish it out pretty well? David Clarkson’s name came up, as did Steve Ott, referenced both by Doughty and Clifford.
“I’ve heard him say some pretty funny ones,” Doughty said of Ott. “I don’t know who else. For the most part they’re just bad chirps.”
“I think Greener would be a good chirper. He chirps me off the ice, and it gets me, so I could just imagine what he says on the ice.”
There’s also Phoenix’s Paul Bissonnette, who doesn’t earn as much ice time as the other players mentioned, though he certainly keeps active by chirping his teammates and a few unwise detractors through his popular Twitter account.
“He definitely tries to get involved in the game, however he can, Nolan said. “Whether it’s someone to check, or yipping at the team or barking at his own players, you definitely know when he’s out there.”
It’s not only the league’s energy-type players that engage in the verbal sparring.
“Usually it’s the more skilled guys that are a little clever,” Clifford said. “Then you have a few guys like [Sean] Avery, he had a few good ones. I only played against him a little bit.”
Certainly Doughty is one of the league’s most skilled players. Does he rank high amongst those who trash talk?
“Drew? Doughty? No,” Clifford responded.
“I like to chirp. I’m not very good at it,” Doughty said. “I just try to let my play do the talking.”