Why does anyone climb a mountain? Uh, because it’s there. Why does a chicken cross a road? Well, to get to the other side. And why do NHL teams hold morning skates on game days? Just as valid – or antiquated – a question, apparently, according to Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.
Maybe it was because his team has been playing pleasingly well. Or because the Penguins seem close to getting some injured players back. Or because he and his team were about to jet to sunny Florida. Whatever the reason, Sullivan was in a jovial mood Monday when he was asked about his stance on morning skates.
The Penguins for the large part have made them optional – sometimes very optional – so far this season, and not only when they have played the night before.
Sullivan offered a logical reason for that, followed by a humorous analogy that underscored his relative lack of use for morning skates.
“As I’ve always said, we’re trying to manage workloads” he said. “I’ve always believed that it’s the most overrated practice in hockey. It’s like, why does the whole league have morning skates?”
Then came his story.
“It reminds me of why did my mother cut the side of the hams off before she cooked them,” Mike Sullivan said. “I asked her, why do you cut the side of the hams off? She said, ‘I don’t know. Because that’s how my mother taught me, I guess.’
“So I asked my grandma. I said, ‘Why do you cut the sides of the hams off before you put them in the oven?’ She said, ‘Well, that’s easy. I didn’t have a pan that was big enough.’
“So that’s my analogy of morning skates.”
Bottom line: In Sullivan’s estimation, the only reason NHL teams hold game-day skates is because that is how it’s been done for a long time, a tradition whose roots have perhaps been lost and fallen into the category of being obsolete.