grinding game

KLPNO

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Hello everyone,

Wayne Gretzky writes in his book 99: Stories of the Game:

"In 1983–84, the Oilers entirely transformed their thinking. Up till then we played so-called “firewagon” hockey. In other words, we just wanted to score the other team into submission. That’s just the way things were in the Clarence Campbell Conference in the west, which was fast and high-flying—and distinctly different from the Prince of Wales Conference in the east, where teams like the Islanders and Bruins and Flyers played a more grinding, methodical game."

The dictionary says that as an adjective "grinding" has the following meanings:

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/grinding

1 attributive (of a difficult situation) oppressive and seemingly without end.

‘grinding poverty’
2 attributive (of a sound or movement) harsh and grating.

‘the grinding roar of the lorries’

But from the context, it seems to me that "grinding" should mean something like slow.
So what is the meaning of grinding in the context above?

Thank you.
 

Lynxear

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Think of making sausage. You take meat and grind it through a meat grinder.

In hockey terminology, a grinding game is a very slow game played by players who are known to be tough. A grinding game had a lot of body checking, fighting and intimidation of the opponent's top players. Your top goal scorer was protected by an "enforcer" who had little hockey skills but was feared as a fighter. It is a defensive game where the object is to wear down the opponents and when they make a mistake you can score a goal. It is often a very low scoring game if played properly.

The Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970's were nicknamed "The Broad Street Bullies". They were masters of this type of game winning 2 Stanley Cups in a row and losing a third in the in the last round of play from 1974-1976

This style of game is now frowned upon because of deaths and injury to players due to head trauma in their later life.
 

Lynxear

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Agreed, you need a mixture of talent and it is not like the days when Gretzky played. He absolutely needed a protector like Dave Semenko playing beside him in order to survive. Semenko had few talents as a scorer but anyone who tried to mess with Gretzky had to deal with Semenko. Semenko died recently at the age of 59 from cancer. Another "enforcer" Robert Probert, probably one of the toughest of the tough and actually a guy with decent playing skills, died at age 49. He led a tough life including problems with drugs. If you look at the stats of those that were fighters from that era many died before they were 50.

Those days are gone from hockey today. A mucker or grinder of today's standards is a player who is not afraid of going into the corners to get the puck, who willingly drops in front of a shot to block it and is a good body checker. Your 3rd and 4 lines on a team is full of such players.

Hockey has become a much faster game now.
 
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