Are You On the Wrong Team?

wrong team
Tima Miroshnichenko

Got a feeling something’s not right? How to know if you’re on the wrong team.

By Warren Tabachnick

The Right Level of Play, or the Wrong Team?

Are you up to speed with the other players on the team? Does a missed pass or mistake you happen to make draw the ire of your teammates? Seriously, it’s rec hockey you’re playing but not everybody gets that. If you’re trying your best but it’s just not good enough, it could very well be you are on the wrong team and may be time to move on. No one needs to feel out of place in a beer league game at 10 o’clock at night.

On the flip side, if you’ve got some hockey skills under your belt and you’re a cut above your teammates—or even the players on the other teams in your league—it’s not a good look. Sure, zipping through your opponents like a hot knife through butter for that top-shelf goal may be good for your ego. But if you’re a standout hockey player, that’s another sure sign you are on the wrong team. Sooner or later you’ll become a target for your opponents to take pot shots at.

Whining and Finger Pointing

I’ve always said if I was looking to be yelled at by anyone, I’d stay home and start an argument with my wife. This is a game to be enjoyed. You’re out there to get a sweat going, take your mind off your troubles, maybe score a goal or an assist. But if you come up against complaints, that takes the fun out of the game.

As awesome a sport as hockey is, it can be a difficult and often frustrating game to play. An occasional comment on a misstep is to be expected. But no one deserves to be abused, especially doing something they love.

Winning versus Play Time

Everybody wants to win because, as we all know, losing sucks. Every team has its own culture, philosophy, and objectives. There are those teams that are win-at-all-cost, and then there are teams that are in it for the pure joy, camaraderie, and team spirit. In this scenario, real team players are happy to miss a shift for the greater good of the team, such as on a power play or penalty kill, or in the last few minutes of a crucial game.

But if your team places a greater emphasis on winning and you’re continuously being asked—or even forced—to ride the pine while your buddies are out on the ice, you definitely should consider changing your jersey. You’re not paying that kind of money to drag your butt to a late game on a work night, only to watch a bunch of beer league players. You’d be better off sitting on your nice, comfortable sofa, watching the pros on TV.

Have you had any of these experiences? We’d love to hear about them! Feel free to share your stories in the Comments section below. is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


  1. As a newer player played military rec no hit hockey for a small unit full of Type A soldiers, which was coached by the senior noncom of the organization. No one asked him, he just did it. I showed up for the first practice and I and one other were told we would not be needed. So I called the league conveyor and asked him who exactly I was supposed to play for, the Leftovers (yes, there was such a team). He said no, with your own unit and made a call to the Regimental Sergeant Major saying I and Corporal B would be playing on our unit team. You can imagine I warmed the bench a lot as a member of the “Turd line”… we would be winning like 9-2 and still no ice time to speak of.
    So one night I got fed up, jumped the boards and got a penalty and looked right at him and said, when the penalty is over I am not coming back to the bench. I did not. Of course, I heard all about my disrespect the next morning. Funny thing was, the last third of the season about half the team disappeared to freefall training camp in California for four weeks or so. And suddenly I had 45 minutes of ice time a game… not good enough until that was all he had for players.
    I was not sorry when we had a new RSM the final year, who was there simply to help open the gate. I paid a nominal amount to belong to this team and was made out to feel like a second class player, skill level not withstanding. And had no option to play elsewhere.

    • As painful as that can be, your story is not all that unique. But don’t give up, John. You’ll soon find a spot on a team where you can finally feel like you belong, and where your contributions will be recognized and accepted.

  2. Great article, and it could even be expanded on three or five dimensions to flesh out some of those scenarios. I’ve played rec/beer-league long enough to be in almost all of those situations at one point or another.

    It hits you hard when you realize you no longer lave the legs for B2 and need to drop down to a C-level team, for example. On the other hand, after a few seasons of harder work, I’ve found that I really want the challenge of a faster division.

    And sometime I split the difference—I’ve got my fast/competitive team (that kicks my butt) and my development/fun team, where I can focus on better execution and fundamentals. And then the team that is basically just The Boys, where there is a wide range and we go back a long time… (Ah, the joys of playing on three teams at the same time… I need to get back to that again.)

  3. Great article! I love that this applies to our hockey community and our professional lives. It’s ultimately our decision on whom we spend our time with and how we feel at the end of the workday or in the locker room with our teammates. Find a culture that fits your beliefs or values!

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