Joining the NHL brotherhood is like joining an exclusive club, and with that comes initiation. Each NHL team does things differently, and some stories are leaked while others remain a secret.
When done properly and safely, hazing is all in good fun. Veterans have hazed rookies for years now, and here are some of the craziest reported hazing stories in NHL history.
HBO's 24/7 series documented the hijinks that veterans can play on rookies, and the Pittsburgh Penguins took things a step further when they were featured in the miniseries.
Simon Despres was a rookie blueliner back in 2011 when members of the team decided to hang his clothes from the rafters. As the video above shows, Despres' shoes, pants and leather jacket were elevated to the rafters 30 feet over the ice.
It has become a tradition for some NHL teams to have the veterans "take" rookies out for dinner. The rookies order food thinking that they are getting a free meal, but at the end of the meal they get stuck with the check.
A great example of this tradition happened as recently as 2006 when a number of Tampa Bay Lightning rookies were "taken to dinner." Fredrik Modin felt the pain in his pocket when he was a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it also happened to Tim Taylor when he was with the Detroit Red Wings back in the 1990s.
It is a great tradition that is all in good fun, but rookies should be wary this season when the veterans invite them out for dinner.
Blake Geoffrion got a unique NHL introduction.
Blake Geoffrion was well known even before he stepped onto the ice for his NHL debut. His grandfather, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion had a lengthy NHL career, so the younger Geoffrion already had big expectations to live up to.
Goalies customarily lead their team onto the ice, but for Geoffrion's first game with the Predators he basked in the moment by skating around the ice all by himself.
Steven Stamkos enjoyed a similar fate when he visited the Air Canada Center in Toronto for the first time, and it is a hazing tradition that will continue for years.
Fowler paid his dues as a rookie.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, Cam Fowler had an interesting job when he was a rookie blueliner for the Anaheim Ducks. The young defender had the privilege of chauffeuring veterans Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf to a home game at the Honda Center.
Fowler even dressed up for the gig, and it shows that he can take a joke that is meant to be a funny icebreaker.
Sakic was the subject of a prank back in the 1980s.
In a 1988 piece featured in The Hockey News, it was suggested that hazing in the NHL should be abolished. The piece had segments appear in a Los Angeles Times report, and one of the incidents in question involved Joe Sakic.
In the National Hockey League, hazing also sometimes goes beyond haircuts. That it exists at all in the NHL should be an embarrassment to professional athletes. But as long as it does exist in the NHL, the practice will, no doubt, live on in the lower levels.
Quebec Nordiques rookie Joe Sakic, who looks like a skinhead since his "initiation," offers a ray of hope for the future. Sakic is on record as saying: "Next year, I'm not going to be doing anything."
That's the only way it will stop—if the rookies of this season have the sense not to take it out on the rookies of next season.
That piece was written 25 years ago, and while hazing still goes on, it isn't as rampant as it once was. There have been other incidents in pro sports in which players were hazed with a haircut, but I think everyone can agree that the prank is harmless.
Bailey got a warm introduction after he made his debut.
Josh Bailey made his rookie debut with the New York Islanders a few years ago, and team captain Bill Guerin had the privilege of introducing him to the media. When Bailey was formally announced, Guerin handed the rookie a jersey, but it didn't have his name on it.
Instead, Bailey was given a Brett Favre jersey, and laughter cascaded amongst the room. Bailey was eventually given a jersey, and it was a very simple hazing moment that got the message across.