In the Face

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 15: Riley Cote #32 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Eric Godard #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins square off during a first period fight at the Mellon Arena on December 15, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Riley Cote announced today that he would retiring at the age of 28 in order to take a coaching position with the Flyers AHL squad. As Gabe notes here, Cote did little more than sit in the penalty box during his professional career, which got me wondering just what wisdom he of one goal in 156 games might be able to impart to the next generation of NHLers. As a result, here’s how I figure a Cote dressing room chalkboard session might go: (some NSFW language)

"Alright gentlemen. You’ve probably heard a lot of fancy technical talk on your way to becoming professionals. You’ve probably had to sit through a lot of stupid video reviews and you’ve probably bought a lot of really expensive equipment. But I’m here to tell you to ditch that shit. Carbon whatever hockey sticks and stupid football style plays don’t win you hockey games. You know what wins you games? Not being a giant pussy."


"Shut up Backlund. And take that visor off your helmet. Didn’t I just talk about not being a pussy?"

"But I’m a goali.."

"I said shut up. Now, what you’ll really have to know to be an NHLer – and what I’m going to teach you – is how to punch someone. Not just anywhere either. How to punch someone in the face. That’s really the most important part to remember. I mean, guys are mostly covered up on the ice, so it’s not like there’s a lot of vulnerable areas. But the face – lots of open space there. And it hurts like a damn too. Especially if you get it in the nose, man…that can blur a guy’s vision, knock the sense right out of him. No matter how tough a dude is, catch him on the nose, maybe break it…you’re on your way to winning that fight, let me tell you. There was this one time I threw down with Brash when he was in Washington and…"

"What about power play strategy coach? Shouldn’t we worry about that?"

"Number one, Clackson, never interrupt me in the middle of a story. I’m trying to smarten you up here so shut your face or I’ll be forced to punch it. Number two, stop talking like a pussy. The power play’s easy as hell. There’s four of them and five of you. What the hell else do you need to know?"

"So…the break-out…"

"Yeah, the break-out…what about it? Shoot the damn puck off the glass or something. Jesus guys, I said don’t worry about that crap. It works itself out. What you should be worrying about is your smack talk, your knuckle taping and your ability to swallow your own blood."

"And punching people…"

"Yeah, punching guys. Punching them in the face. Make sure to get a good grip on a guy’s jersey too. You gotta wear tie-downs these days, but if you can rip that bugger out and get the sweater over his head, sky’s the limit man. I mean, his face is going to be covered up by the jersey so your prime targeting area will be obscured, but with him all blind and confused, that won’t matter much. Just throw some bombs in the general area of his head and you’ll do fine."

"So coach, if we’re, like, losing 3-2 in the third period and we can’t seem to get out of our zone, then…"

"Then you gotta track down one of the other team’s bigger or better players and put the fear of god into ’em. Remember gents, this a man’s game. You’re at war out there. If you can convince the other guys you’ve got bigger balls then the rest just falls in line. It just does man. In fact, you can ignore the scoreboard at the end of the night if you’ve convinced the other team that they’re pussies. So yeah, winning a game in the third, losing a game…whatever. Track some schmuck down and…Clackson…what do you think I’m looking for here?"

"Punch him coach?"

"Punch him……" (expectant pause)

"In…in the face?"

(Cotes gives Clackson a paternal pat on the shoulder)

"That’s right son. In the face."