There Is No Puck

A goalie "catches" the "puck" in his glove.
A goalie “catches” the “puck” in his glove.

Remember “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” It’s the fable about an emperor who is swindled to purchase a garment so opulent that only he can see it. Thus he walks through the streets in his underpants, leaving bystanders to convince themselves that they too were seeing something that wasn’t there.

I have a theory that ice hockey is the emperor’s new clothes of sports.

The other day I was eating out at a restaurant that had the St. Louis Blues game on a TV in the corner. I usually avoid having TVs in my line of vision at restaurants because my eyes instinctively drift towards them, but I didn’t have a choice this time.

I glanced up at the screen a few times to see a bunch of guys skating around and hitting each other, occasionally waving and batting their sticks at a puck that was allegedly on the ice…but here’s the thing: I have 20/20 vision, and I never actually saw a puck. In fact, in all the hockey games I’ve watched (not many), I’ve never seen the puck. That leads me to my theory.

There is no puck.

There is no puck. There never was, nor will there ever be. It’s all an elaborate ruse, and no one–not the players, the referees, the coaches, nor the fans–are willing to admit that there is no puck. No one wants to be the one to tell the emperor that he’s not wearing any clothes.

Look, I get it: You think you’ve seen the puck. And that’s totally cool with me. I mean, how embarrassing would it be to admit you’ve paid cash money to watch a sport where the central object of the sport isn’t even there?

I have to say this, though: I applaud the gusto with which hockey players pretend the puck is there. Every game is like a synchronized ice dance. Rarely do they break from character. It makes sense that most of the game takes place away from the “puck”–all the body slamming and fighting and subbing in and out–but the whole thing is incredibly well choreographed. Similar to WWE wresting, they’re fully committed to the ruse. Heck, they probably truly believe the puck is there.

From one naked emperor to another, my hat is off to you, hockey player. Keep chasing that puck. Maybe someday it will materialize out of thin air.

8 thoughts on “There Is No Puck”

  1. That explains why kids have so much difficulty playing the game. They actually play with a puck. If you ever watch them, they fumble all over the place.

    If you ever get the opportunity to shoot the half court thousand dollar game, pocket the real puck and pretend to hit the puck into the net. Everyone will cheer because they are afraid to admit they can’t see it.

    • John–Ha ha…that’s a great idea about the half court idea. But what is this “real puck” you’re talking about?

  2. 🙂

    Are the close-up instant replays where a puck is obviously visible (such as Towes’ off-the-skate goal 12 seconds into the Blues/Blackhawk game on Thursday) just another way to perpetuate the myth? These guys are really committed if they tape it all ahead of time and then manage to perfectly recreate it in the moment. Real pros, they are.

    Come to think of it, the lockout was probably just a lie; they needed more rehearsal time before the season started, didn’t they? Or was the script they follow not ready yet perhaps?

    • Katie–That’s cute that you’re convinced you see the puck. I’m not here to tell you otherwise.

      That’s a great theory about the lockout–that makes perfect sense.

  3. Alright Neo, show us out of the cave.

    Is it possible to manufacture a rubber disc, 1 inch thick, 3 inches in diameter, and weighing between 5.5 and 6 ounces? If yes, can this object be titled a “puck?” If one of these “pucks” existed, does some natural (or unnatural) force act upon it when it is placed on frozen water, such that this object would cease to exist? If this object can exist on ice, does some natural (or unnatural) force act upon it when it is struck at high velocity with wood or fiberglass, thus that the object stops being a puck?

    Basically, at what step in the process are we all fooled?


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