Superstitions invariably start because of some immediate success associated with a particular activity accidentally or unknowingly performed, but they end for a variety of reasons. Of course, any superstition shouldn’t end until it has ceased to be effective, but in the case of Ray Ferraro it may have been sheer boredom that ended one of his rituals.

Over a career that spanned 18 seasons and 1,258 games, Ferraro scored an impressive 408 goals, although he never won the Stanley Cup (coming closest in 1993 with the New York Islanders when the team advanced as far as the semi-finals).

RAY FERRARO Photo Gallery

Ferraro’s pre-game meal one time consisted of chicken parmesan. He went out and scored two goals. For two years he ate nothing but chicken parmesan before games, and no one is certain whether a scoring drought or sheer fatigue of this good but hardly exceptional meal caused him to stop.

In 2002, he retired and became a television commentator, starting with ESPN. He later became known as “chicken parm” because one night just before air time he ate the meal again and spilled some on his shirt and tie. With no time to change, he had to cover the bad stains repeatedly while he worked on air, much to the delight of his colleagues.


He was called the most complete player in the world by legendary Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov. Bob Gainey, the long-time captain of the Montreal Canadiens, reportedly confessed this about his main superstition: “In between periods, I always ask for a drink made with 30 per cent Coke and 50 per cent water. I’ve had this habit ever since I started to play for the Canadiens.” Be that as it may, his glass was still 20 per cent empty.


Bert Gardiner managed to tend the goal of four Original Six teams in the 1930s and 1940s New York, Montreal, Chicago, and Boston and he is proof that superstitions either get handed down from one generation to the next or that players from different eras are more similar than one might think. Today, we know Sidney Crosby enters the Mellon Arena through the same door and has a series of routines to get him into the dressing room. Well, in this same vein, Gardiner always entered the arena he was playing in through the same door, and he also took the same path to get to the dressing room, no matter how tangled or non-linear that route might be.


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