Nazem Kadri has been involved in more than a few verbal sparring matches.
The Calgary Flames centre certainly knows how to dish it out during an on-ice war of words.
Kadri can also appreciate when he — or a teammate — is the recipient of a clever, cutting barb.
"I've had my fair share," he said at the recent NHL/NHLPA player media tour in suburban Las Vegas. "You just gotta be on your toes. You just gotta be clever. Sometimes someone will say something and you'll be like, 'Oh, that was pretty good.'
"It definitely makes things interesting."
But what makes a good trash-talker? Is it doing a deep dive into an opponent's past in search of that stinging nugget of information? Or a heat-of-the-moment zinger?
"Guys who are just quick and witty," Carolina Hurricanes centre Seth Jarvis said. "I trip over my words and nothing good comes out. It's fun listening to guys that are almost like a smartass … stuff that comes out naturally."
"They have got a book," he said. "They're ready to go."
He added the confidence and skill to try to get someone off their game by talking trash — often referred to as "chirping" in the hockey world — isn't in everyone's arsenal.
"The best guys are willing to back it up," he said. "I'm definitely not a chirper, but the guys that do … there's some pretty charismatic guys in our league."
"Gotta respect it," he said. "You hear things that are eye-opening. It brings the intensity up."
Caufield added that as a younger player in the league, he's heard plenty from veterans on the other side.
"It's a good thing if they're coming after you," he said. "You're probably the one they're worried about."
"Everyone knows everyone," he explained. "Sometimes it crosses the line, sometimes not. You gotta be quick. You gotta be snappy."
NHLers also know they have to be careful in an era where microphones are positioned around the rink — and even on players themselves. High-definition television cameras also mean fans can become amateur lip readers.
There was an example last season when Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras and then-Arizona Coyotes defenceman Troy Stecher got into a war of words that morphed into rumours and innuendo on social media.
"Things can always be misconstrued … it wasn't accurate," Ducks winger Troy Terry said. "It was a lesson where if you're in the spotlight, those things can happen."
Morrissey said that rule also applies out of the spotlight.
"At the rink or away from the rink, there's always someone with a phone," he said. "And sometimes disingenuously trying to put you in a tough position."
"You gotta be careful what you say not only on the ice, but anywhere," he said. "A lot of guys are mic'd up and that's a great thing that our game does."
Hughes was fascinated by on-ice banter growing up.
"I used to love the hot mics because you're always like, 'What's going on down there?'" he said. "Then you hear … and you're like, 'Jesus Christ.'"
Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand's name, unsurprisingly, came up repeatedly as one of the best trash-talkers.
Terry said he had a memorable experience as a rookie in 2018-19 with Anaheim.
"He was all over me," Terry recalled of Marchand. "He was like, 'Seriously, you're the call-up?' He said that multiple times … he knew it was my first game back."
"The worst is when you get chirped when you're actually playing (crappy)," he said. "It just adds fuel to the fire. That's when a chirp works."
Others can absolutely fall flat.
He added there's nothing wrong with two opponents trying to gain an advantage.
"Both want to win," Keller said. "And they're going at it. "
But it's no doubt coming.
"If you hear a good one, you'll know," he said. "It's funny when someone knows a little extra information."
And there are times when a teammate gets eviscerated by an opponent.
"You try to not laugh," he said. "It's a great part of the game."
Added Jarvis: "Just gotta tip your cap at that point."
Kadri said watching two players go toe-to-toe with colourful dialogue never loses its appeal.
"It's fun to be on the bench when someone's getting into it," Kadri said. "It's the wittiness and it's the material. You gotta do your homework, you gotta know everything about who you're going after.
"Within reason, of course."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2023.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press