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Desjardins: Soccer keeps Blackhawks loose

by Andrew Desjardins / NHL.com

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins will be blogging for NHL.com periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In this edition, he explains why players use soccer to warm up before games.

CHICAGO – I know a lot of you have probably seen hockey players playing soccer to get warmed up for a game, and I love doing it, but I thought I’d explain how the game works for those of you who don’t know.

I can’t say it goes as far back as the beard thing, but playing soccer before the game has become a hockey tradition. It’s one of those things that’s just been done. I did it in the Ontario Hockey League, I did it in Laredo, Texas when I played in the Central Hockey League, I did it in American Hockey League in Worcester, and I did it in San Jose. I don’t know where it came from or what the history behind it is, but it’s one of those things where it seems like every single team does it.

I’m pretty sure every team does it.

We’ve been playing this ever since I was in junior playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL. Back then we would do a team warmup to keep everyone unified, and after that we’d play soccer.

It’s called two touch, or sewer ball because you can knock guys out, or sewer them.

So basically what happens is you’re in a group, and there are different kinds of rules on each team, but we kind of use the basic rules on the Blackhawks.

For a normal 7 p.m. game, we start playing at around 5 p.m. Then we have our meeting, then we play again until around 6, and then you get ready for the warmup.

So to start it off, you have to bounce it in the circle, maximum two hits, obviously no hand balls. You can hit someone with the ball, or sewer them, as they say, and if it hits them and hits the ground before somebody else hits it, you’re out. Simple as that.

You have to have five guys to play a legit, official game that counts in the rankings.

No, we don’t actually have rankings.

Some of the other rules are that fakers are out, so if the ball’s up and you try to fake somebody out by pretending you’re going to hit the ball and then it hits a guy and hits the ground, the guy who fakes it is out.

A lot of people have seen it on television when we lose the ball up in the ceiling or something, but there aren’t really any rules as to who has to go get it. Everybody kind of takes a turn on that.

Another rule is if the ball dies in the air, like it hits the ceiling or a garbage can or a chair or something, it’s a dead ball and we replay the point.

We definitely get into arguments sometimes about the rules, and the way it works with the Blackhawks is effort level comes into question a lot. If the effort level isn’t there or there’s another disagreement about a rule, you have settle it with rock, paper, scissors. That’s how you decide. Sudden death; one, two, three shoot.

I’m terrible at it. I don’t know how you can be terrible at rock, paper, scissors, but I always lose somehow.

We also give out cards, like not actually give out yellow and red cards, but you can’t take a guy out with a headshot, you can’t just boot it at guys, stuff like that. Guys are pretty good though; they don’t go super hard, wind up and boot it. You’re doing it within reason.

If it’s not done within reason, guys will dodge, and dodging’s not allowed. There are arguments about that all the time.

The best player on the team is defenseman David Rundblad, for sure. The Swedes are pretty good.

We have a lot of guys that play now and then, but there’s a hardcore group of six that plays the most. It’s me, Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, Joakim Nordstrom, Scott Darling and Rundblad. We’re the guys who play a ton.

I don’t know where I rank. I’d say top three or four but I’m not going to go any further than that.

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