What Does A Bender Mean In Hockey? [Facts!]

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The hockey world lost a legend yesterday, when Eddie “The Chief” Whitehair passed away at the age of 83. He will be remembered for his years as a player and his long tenure as a coach and administrator. For those who didn’t know him, Whitehair was a renowned tough guy, a three-time winner of the Stanley Cup, and the first player ever to score three goals in an overtime period — all in the 1950s.

What does a bender mean in hockey? It’s a question that comes up a lot in hockey these days, considering how many games are played during the regular season. There is no precise translation for “bender” in English, but it basically refers to a slapshot, or any shot that hits the ice surface with great force.

Even when a shot isn’t particularly powerful or accurate, it can still cause some serious damage. In the 2016-17 NHL season, there were 1,755 fights, and 288 players were involved in at least one of those fights. The NHL doesn’t keep track of how many fights result in serious injuries, but the numbers are certainly there. A fight typically breaks out after a puck is dislodged or a goalie is hit by a shot, so it’s not hard to see how the violence in hockey grew in step with the sport’s popularity.

There are plenty of hockey legends, like Whitehair, that you know and love, but there are also unknown legends that you may not know existed. The following are lists of some legendary slappers and their respective benders. While some of these players may not have been known for their sweet hands, they sure did know how to whip their shots hard and accurately.

Bill Cook

He may not have been the biggest or the strongest player to ever lace up the skates, but Bill Cook was certainly unique. A lefty, the Hall of Fame goaltender played his entire career with the New York Rangers. Cook was known for his smooth glove hand and his spectacular puck-rushing ability. While some goalies played a mere nine seasons, Cook played 23 years in the National Hockey League and won the Stanley Cup three times. He was also the first goalie to appear on the cover of a Hockey Card. Sadly, Cook passed away in 1983, and the New York Rangers named their netminding position after him in 1992.

Red Berenson

The first name that comes to mind when you think of Red Berenson is Wayne Gretzky. After all, it was Red who taught him how to be a pro. However, Red Berenson was a pretty great hockey player in his own right. The Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame goalie played 22 years in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup four times. If Wayne Gretzky is the Godfather of the Modern Hockey Era, Red Berenson was the unacknowledged father.

What makes Berenson’s slapshot so special is that it had an amazing amount of “backspin”. In fact, there is a video on YouTube where you can see Berenson demonstrate the unique way he shot the puck. Using a blue ball, Berenson shoots it hard and straight, then rotates his body as he watches the ball travel in a semicircle. At the end, the ball takes a sharp right turn towards the netminder, giving the shot a ton of backspin.

Jordie Benn

If you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, you’ll be keen to know that the team’s first-round draft pick in 2006, Jordie Benn, is also one of the great hockey historians. As a member of the gold-medal-winning Canadian team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Benn recorded three goals and five assists in six games. He also has 63 goals and 98 assists in 234 career games with the Penguins.

Benn was born in London, Ontario, and started playing organized hockey at the age of four. At the age of seven, his family moved to Thunder Bay, where he spent the next few years developing his skills. Benn was drafted by the Penguins in the sixth round, 181st overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In addition to his Olympic success, Benn won the Calder and the Mitchell Trophies as the NHL’s top rookie in 2008-09 and 2017-18, respectively. He was also named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team in 2017.

Bernie Nicholls

An underrated member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bernie Nicholls played in one of the most famous trades in hockey history. On March 5, 1957, the Maple Leafs sent Nicholls and Bill Barilko to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Red Kelly and Bucky Harris. While Kelly went on to have a Hall of Fame career, and Barilko became the first Russian Olympian to win the Stanley Cup, Nicholls had a fairly uneventful 15-year career, which included scoring his 100th NHL goal against Eddie Shore in 1960-61. He also won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 1964 Winter Olympics.

Derek McInnes

McInnes was an important part of the St. Louis Blues’ five-peat from 1976 to 1980, helping the team to a cumulative record of 132-31-12 during those years. He was also an essential member of the Montreal Canadiens’ 1979 Stanley Cup victory, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player. Playing his entire NHL career with the Habs, the six-foot-two, 200-pound netminder enjoyed a 23-year career that included 1,560 games. Over that span he recorded a.903 save percentage and 2.45 GAA. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.

Vic Stasiuk

“Mr. Personality” wasn’t the name given to Victor “City” Stasiuk by teammates or opponents, but it’s the name that sticks. One of the greatest pure goal scorers of all time, Stasiuk lit up the NHL during the 1950s and ‘60s, recording 711 goals in an 8-year period. He’s still the all-time leader in playoff goal-scoring with 164 goals in 226 games. One of the first Europeans to play in the NHL, Stasiuk won the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy (most valuable player) in two consecutive seasons – 1956 and 1957. He was also named to the First All-Star Team both years, and was a key member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ three-peat from 1955 to 1957.

Eddie Beliveau

One of the first hockey players to become a successful businessman and philanthropist – he also happens to be the son of famed hockey player Eddie “The Eagle” – Eddie Beliveau was named after the famous aviator. However, while his father was a great hockey player, Eddie didn’t become one himself. Instead, he had a short, uneventful career in the NHL, which was cut short by a neck injury. Beliveau then returned to his hometown of Montreal, where he put his business and hockey training skills to use, launching his own athletic school, the Eddie Beliveau Academy, which offers both hockey and football training. He also became involved in hockey community work, helping children with cancer and other hardships. He died in 2014 at the age of 78.

Bill Gaudette

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning another Olympic and five-time Stanley Cup winner, Bill Gaudette. Like Red Berenson before him, Gaudette was raised in a hockey family – his father, uncle, and a cousin all played for the Montreal Canadiens. After his rookie season in the NHL, Gaudette was sent to Camp Hardaway, an offseason hockey camp in Michigan organized by Red Berenson. Camp Hardaway helped turn Gaudette into a better hockey player by challenging him and making him practice against top players. Gaudette’s nickname, “Bullet Bill”, came from the fact that he always kept a fast pace on the ice and used his quickness and accuracy to score goals. He also had a tremendous slapshot, which reportedly had an incredible amount of backspin. Gaudette spent his entire NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, playing for them for 21 years. He appeared in 728 games, winning the Stanley Cup in 1956 and 1961. In between, he won three straight Norris Trophies (most valuable player) from 1955 to 1957. At the end of his career, he helped coach the USA’s entry in the 1972 Summit Series against the USSR. Gaudette passed away in 1987 at the age of 56.

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