An Open Letter to All the Ringers

I posted the following in The Rink section of the forums on

To the guy who plays a level down,

Why do you play in our league? You know you’re better than everyone else. I know you know this because you like to flaunt your skill. You toe drag the defender that can’t do backwards crossovers. You rip slappers a few feet in front of the red line. You’re ALWAYS on the PK squad, and you always put yourself in for a 3 1/2 minute shift at the end of the game when it’s close. You intercept passes from your weaker teammates because you know they aren’t clutch like you. You get mad when we take shots at you, but you know the refs let it go because you don’t belong and they can empathize with our frustrations. You justify your position by saying you are a mentor, or you are just there to setup passes, or keep things even. For the most part, you stick to this. However, when the game is on the line, or a weaker opponent shows you up, the competitive player inside of you simply cannot allow it. This is when you turn on the afterburners and take control of the game. You tease us by letting us think we have a chance, then you deny us victory. When you do this part of me wants to give up, and the other part of me wants to try my hardest so I can show you up. See the internal conflict? I can yell at you, I can chirp you, I can take cheap shots, but in the end all I want is for you to play in the league you belong. Please. Competition is what makes the game fun. Don’t take this away from me and my linemates.

In the meantime I’ll keep trying to improve until I can play in the highest league and not have this problem.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on how to discourage ringers from playing in a league in which they don’t belong?

Featured image by cinnamon_girl

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  1. SE said on November 7, 2011

    Hope you have better luck than my league. It seems the only person who can control it is the hockey director and many have no backbone for fear of teams leaving for another rink. Most let some teams have a B player in D level while not letting another team do it. Rink politics and it seems that it is that way everywhere. My team moved from D to C in hopes of better balance league and although there are a few people who should be in B there is definitely less full-time ringers than in the lowest level. Hopefully one day I can get to highest level too but you should try to move your team up 1 level. Unfortunately you may need to add some new players and drop a few that can’t keep pace yet.

  2. Nolan said on November 8, 2011

    I went ahead a read until chickenneckers post on 11/5. This is ever present in the league I play. I thought it was interesting. At first there were two teams with just 1 ringer. Then, following our preseason game, one of those two teams dropped their ringer. Respectable. The other team maintained their first one and brought on a second. Now, almost every team in our league has at least one ringer. My guess is they assumed it was allowed and felt they needed to roster these players to keep up with other teams. It is very frustrating and here’s why..
    1. What loser plays below their level, unless that is their ONLY option (which is VERY rare). An exception to this would be if they are playing in goal or using their opposite hand?
    2. The argument that it gives ME a chance to get better. There isn’t much of a chance to “get better” if someone is skating circles around me (so to speak) or if I have little chance to defend them/puck handle around them. I am fine going to a pick-up game or… get this… playing in a league up, if I really wanted to get better. Otherwise, I’ll stick to a league I with players of a similar skill level (same, better, or worse)
    3. “holding back” or “just playing defense” RARELY happens. It’s a highly competitive sport and people play to win.
    4. Placing the blame on the rink director may be a good cop-out, but it really is up to the integrity of the player or the team manager.

    What pisses me off the most is when my team plays the best they’ve probably ever played… they skate their hearts out, hold their positions, make clean passes, take lots of shots (as many as they can get off), save/stop goals, and we STILL LOSE! It takes the whole meaning out of “playing fair”.

    I agree with what you said above. I really feel like just giving up. At the same time I feel like playing dirty and cheap just to make the game a little more even. I’m not going to take out the guy’s ankle or anything, but when the guy acts like a total d-bag, it might be worth my one game suspension vs. his being out the rest of season.

  3. Ha. said on November 9, 2011

    You should probably just give up Nolan. Give up and go back to roller hockey

    • Nolan said on November 11, 2011

      The subject matter wouldn’t change if I was playing in a competitive roller hockey, flag football, soccer, quittich… whatever sport… that isn’t the point.

  4. Anonymous said on November 10, 2011

    When you even suggest taking out a player with a cheapshot it might be time for you to find a new sport, and to call someone a total d-bag and then talk about intentionally hurting another player. Remind me who is the d-bag here? From what I gather, you are playing rec hockey and you need to take a deep breath and remember it is just a game. You are probably the kind of person that flips the checkerboard over when you are losing huh? At the end of the day, does it really matter if you win or lose? Are you getting paid to win? Then who cares if you win or lose? This post will probably not make it through the night because you have deleted other negative posts that contradict your point of view. But seriously, reality check, you are playing in a rec hockey league that is for fun. If your not having a fun time playing, switch to baseball or soccer.

    • Keegan said on November 10, 2011

      to even suggest taking out a player with a cheapshot it might be time for you to find a new sport

      Agreed. I can’t speak for others, but as the author when I said ‘take shots’ we’re talking about borderline slashing, push-offs, etc not Bertuzzi style, career-ending sucker punches. These are guys who have families and have to get up for work the next day.

      This post will probably not make it through the night because you have deleted other negative posts that contradict your point of view.

      Based on what?

      If your not having a fun time playing, switch to baseball or soccer.

      The sport isn’t the issue, it’s the league. Other sports are not immune to this problem.

    • Nolan said on November 11, 2011

      @ Anonymous, you are right. That’s not cool. I would never intentionally hurt someone,. It’s just this subject matter hits close to home for myself and my fellow teammates. Again though, my frustrations would remain the same regardless of the sport.
      Contrary to popular belief, I am quite calm both on and off the rink. It actually takes a lot (usually an excessive amount) to upset me. However, at the end of the day, I do care about winning… otherwise, why would I even play competitively? No, I am not getting paid, but I still enjoy the victory of a (fair) win. Regardless, after each game, the most important thing is how hard I played and if I knew I gave it my all. As far as deleting your post, that would be up to the Webmaster. I am just a guest author.

  5. Anonymos said on November 10, 2011

    I was not referring to the initial post Keegan it was on the last part of the comment by Nolan saying it might be worth the one game suspension. I thought I had seen more posts on here, and there will always be some one better than you out there so you either get used to the fact and deal with it or don’t play. Play hockey for the love of the game and have fun. Only you let it be not fun if you don’t win. Hockey should be fun whether you win or lose. If you don’t like to lose don’t play sports.

  6. Ben said on November 23, 2011

    I completely agree. I sometimes play with my brother on his beer league team when they need a last minute player. Even though they’re in the highest division, it doesn’t compare to the hockey I’ve played, so I take it easy and just have fun feeding the others.
    In our league, there’s a rule where a ringer can’t get more than a certain percentage of the team’s points. If he does, the game is overruled. I think it’s a good rule to have.

    I love playing for fun nonetheless…it’s a nice change from all the pressure in competitive hockey!


  7. Scott said on November 24, 2011

    It’s interesting to see the different points of view expressed from players on different teams/leagues/locations. The area I’m in has three different leagues, and still that is not technically enough to divide up the competition equally, as there is such a tremendous gap in skill level between each league as a whole. We have many players whose skill level is in between leagues, and answer that dilemma by playing in both the higher and lower league, to get more ice time, practice other skills, learn more from better players, etc. But the reasons people play in a certain league don’t really matter. The way I look at it, we all have two choices. We can claim injustice, ask for pity, whine and complain that this person or that person is too good. Yet we’ve never personally tried the next league up to understand where the separation in skill level really is. Or we can grit our teeth, try harder, succeed in getting past that player, and feel really good about ourselves. Either way, the choice is always ours. What are we going to do with it?

    We talk about sportsmanship in any sport that we play. What is the deciding factor between good and bad sportsmanship? Is it someone playing competitive? Is it complaining that things aren’t fair? Is it yelling when we lose? What about our behavior towards the officials? Our own teammates?

    I’m not going to try and back up any individual player that people may be thinking of here, but let’s ask ourselves who is really at fault. Let’s examine the facts, figure out exactly what qualifies a person for a particular skill level, and in the end, decide that whatever the circumstances, there’s only one person we can change: ourselves. Otherwise it won’t be any fun and we won’t learn anything. And if we quit, the only person we hurt is ourselves. Organized leagues will continue with or without any one or two individuals, so why not remain a part of it and see what we can learn instead?

  8. John Doe said on December 15, 2011

    What pisses me off the most is when my team plays the best they’ve probably ever played… they skate their hearts out, hold their positions, make clean passes, take lots of shots (as many as they can get off), save/stop goals, and we STILL LOSE! It takes the whole meaning out of “playing fair”.

    I hate to say it, but you can still do everything right and still lose a game. That’s just how life goes sometimes.

  9. Bryan said on March 18, 2014

    I understand everyone’s frustration, I’ve been there with my team in the past. Not sure where you guys are playing, but in Michigan there is a forum for team captains to have meetings before the season starts with most leagues… For true D leagues there is a 2 goal ringer rule, No player may score more than twice in a game. This seems to work out really well, especially because hockey is really big in the Mitten, most of us have played before, every true D team has at least 1-4 “ringers” and the large D leagues (up to 20-30 teams) have multiple tiers of D.

    I would say that about half of the “ringers” around here have an unspoken rule among each other, almost all play defense, very rarely score and only go all out against each other, you gotta remember they are paying for the season too.

    My advice to you guys is “shop” around, There are a lot of good leagues out there (at least in MI). My team has been in a league where we were absolutely murdered every night at one rink, and we have seemed to find our home now and have been very competitive at the rink we are at now.

    Good luck

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