At my hockey game tonight, I learned that I’ve been playing without a chin strap on my helmet. Like, for my entire hockey playing career. Now, when it comes to hockey gear, I’m usually the safety queen. I’m the one who guilts and/or scares the other players into wearing neck guards with graphic descriptions of blood shooting out of their carotid arteries. I’m *that* guy. So to find out I’ve been playing with a key piece of safety equipment for, did I mention, my entire hockey playing career was quite a shock! How did I find out, you ask? Well, the ref in tonight’s game came up to me and pointed out that my chin strap was missing. “I have a chin strap!” I said, confusedly, pointing at, you know, the strap around my chin. “That’s not a chin strap,” he said. Turns out that the thing that I had always assumed was my chin strap because, you know, it’s a strap and it goes around my chin, is actually just the strap for my face shield and the little thingamabob that your chin sits in1. You are, apparently, supposed to have a different strap, one that hangs loosely underneath your chin and makes sure your helmet doesn’t come off. Though how my helmet could possibly come off when it is tightly attached by the strap-that’s-not-a-chin-strap, I have no idea.
Also, how I have managed to play hockey for 7 or 8 years2 without ever having a chin strap and without anyone ever noticing until now is also a bit of a mystery. I mean, I’ve played in three different leagues in three different arenas, plus provincials, plus two tournaments (including one in Vegas) and no one has EVER NOTICED. My best guess is that ref was totally checking me out. But I digress.
So the ref tells me that “It’s very nice that you have *this* [indicating the not-a-chin-strap], but that is not a mandatory piece of equipment. You cannot play another shift until you get a chin strap.” GAH! Our team was already playing with only two lines and now I can’t pay until I find a chin strap!
So I run off to the pro shop and totally interrupt some poor kid who was just trying to buy a hockey stick with my “I NEED A CHIN STRAP AND I NEED IT FAST!! I’M MISSING SHIFTS AND MY TEAM IS SHORT!3” And, FSM bless them, the boys in the pro shop were like a Nascar pit stop crew – they hooked me up with a chin strap and replaced two screws in my helmets with clips so that I could attach both my chin strap and my not-a-chin strap4. And they did it so fast AND for free! Go pro shop boys!5
And, would you believe, that when I got back into the game I scored the most beautiful goal I’ve *ever* scored in my entire hockey playing career? I’m talking I threw on the super-speed, stole the puck from the other team, got a breakaway, and shot that puck top shelf where momma keeps the cookie jar!
It pretty much looked like this, except that I’m much prettier than Mike Pecca:
And for that goal, I credit my new lucky chin strap!
- no clue what that thing is called. A chin guard, maybe? [↩]
- I can’t remember exactly when I started playing hockey and at first I was thinking it was about 6 years, but now that I think about it, it’s got to be at least 7, possibly 8. I’ve been done school for more than 4 years and I’m sure I played for three seasons at UBC while I was a student [↩]
- where by “short” I mean we only had two lines, so without me they were playing with just three wingers. Not short as it “no one on my team is taller than 5 ft!” [↩]
- incidentally, this is how I know that I’ve *never* had a chin strap before. I’ve had a full face shield on my helmet from day 1 – I’m far too pretty to play hockey without my pretty, pretty face being protected – yet I only had one set of clips on my helmet. Ergo, I could never have played with a chin strap because there was nowhere that it could have been attached. Also, incidentally, it was the man who would later become my ex-husband who originally put my face shield onto my helmet, so he must be the one who took off the chin strap that I’m sure must have come with the helmet when I bought it, given that it’s a mandatory piece of equipment. Way to try to kill me, ex-husband! [↩]
- Also, it didn’t hurt that they were cute. I’m just sayin’ [↩]