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When superstitions attack

by Cassie Gage || AHL On The Beat Archive

Hockey players are notorious for having routines.

Point streaks, win streaks, playoffs. If someone has a good thing going, don’t mess with the system.

Take Oklahoma City Barons captain Bryan Helmer for instance. Helmer always puts his equipment on right to left, tapes his sticks between each period and never touches his skates during a game. It’s been that way for years and why question a routine that’s resulted in three Calder Cup championships and over 1,000 games played?

While Helmer’s routine is considered normal, players at every level have habits that venture outside what may seem ordinary. There’s the lack of personal hygiene at times, whether it’s not shaving or not getting a haircut.

There’s the music -– Madonna, Journey, and even the Scissor Sisters? Completely common.

Sprinkling baby powder on a stick and not talking to your mother on gameday? Totally normal.

Then there’s Oklahoma City forward Triston Grant, who may be the most habitual person in the AHL. He’s running away with the Barons team award for “Most Likely to Star in the Groundhog Day Sequel.”

Grant likes his coffee. Daily visits to a local Starbucks is common. Depending on the mood, it’s a caramel macchiato or an energy drink. That’s not too unconventional.

When players were asked about their teammates’ practices, Grant’s name came up every time. In fact, one Barons teammate who wished to remain anonymous sold out Grant’s pregame ritual.

Magic rocks.

Yes. Magic rocks, à la Pedro Cerrano in the 1989 movie Major League.

Kept away in a small film container, Grant’s magic rocks come out before games and gentle taps on his stick hopefully result in a favorable outcome not only for himself, but for the Barons. What his teammates may not realize is Grant’s magic rocks aren’t just for his own use. He’s been known to give a few taps to his teammates, too. His method is a closely guarded secret.

A three-point night for someone? Magic rocks. A shutout for the goalie? Magic rocks. A shootout winner? Magic rocks.

It doesn’t stop there for the left winger. Barons fans recently had the opportunity to name Grant’s stick. No, it wasn’t just a one-time thing. It started as a joke while getting that morning coffee at the beginning of the year and like most “routines,” Grant’s play has resulted in every stick being named this season. Needless to say, Shoeless Joe Jackson would be proud.

The first two sticks were Cornelius and Dave. Contest winner Derek Jweid named the latest one Sherman. Sometimes they only last a shift, but Otto and Pedro have stuck around for some time now. As long as Grant’s on a roll, Ernie (that was No. 3) may get Bert as a buddy by the end of the year.

Whenever that time comes, one thing is for certain. Not much changes between now and then.