Today–April 23–is usually acknowledged as William Shakespeare’s birthday. This is his 445th. Obviously, The Bard would have loved hockey, with its fast action and battles for glory. One imagines him nodding at Ovechkin’s celebration, or tut-tutting at Avery, clapping his hand on Hull’s shoulder as a seasoned comrade who has seen just about all the world has to offer.
A true sage of human nature, Shakespeare knew the thrill of battle and pitting against an opponent, the heady wine of victory and the agony of defeat. Shakespeare gave English more than 2,000 new words. Among them: critical, frugal, dwindle, extract, horrid, vast, hereditary, excellent, barefaced, lonely, leapfrog and zany.
As well as memorable phrases such as “dead as a doornail” (2 Henry VI), “all that glitters is not gold” (Merchant of Venice), “every dog will have his day” (Hamlet), “it was Greek to me” (Julius Caesar), “not slept one wink” (Cymbeline), “set my teeth on edge” (1 Henry VI), “in a pickle” (Tempest) and “wild goose chase” (Romeo and Juliet)… among many, many others.
So, with adaptations and apologies, quotes with hockey applications:
Low roster night? No worries:
“The fewer men, the greater share of honour.”
Henry V, Act IV, scene 3
How does the captain gather you at the beginning of the session? Try this one:
“Friends, Romans, hockey players, lend me your ears…”
Julius Caesar, Act III, scene 2
What to say when a puck bounces crazy and inexplicably slips past your goalie and into the net? Truly forces unseen.
“There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Hamlet Act I, scene 5
And what to say when someone trips you? Look up and ask,
“Et tu, Brute?”
Julius Caesar, Act III, scene 1
For your mad breakaway, tearing up the ice:
“I go, I go, look how I go! Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow!”
From the aptly-named Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, scene 2
But what if your hockey stick breaks? What then? How will you finish the night? Cry out,
“A stick, a stick, my kingdom for a stick!”
Richard the Third, Act 5, scene 4
Speaking of crying out, this is what I feel like hollering after both skaters insist the other person instigated the chippy play:
“A plague on both your houses!”
Romeo and Juliet, Act III, scene 1
Is your hockey career not progressing as fast as you’d like? Just keep working at it…
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”
Twelfth Night, Act II, scene 5
And why are we–otherwise rational people–so obsessed with this simple sport?
“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, scene 2
After a session, are you still thinking about your mistakes… the mighty whiff, or scoring on your own goalie? Stop fretting.
“Things without all remedy should be without regard: what’s done is done.”
Macbeth, Act III, scene 2
Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday! I think we should all have some ale to celebrate.