So what makes, who qualifies, as a 'Hockey Player'?
Must you have played all your life?
Are you a hockey as soon as you start?
Must you play in a league or does shinny qualify you as a hockey player?
How often do you have to play to be a 'Hockey Player'?
Do you remain a 'Hockey Player' for life even if you retire from the game?
I'd say anybody who laces 'em up regularly (at least twice a month in the winter) qualifies as a 'Hockey Player'.
I play pick-up once or twice a week.
I was at the airport waiting for a flight with a friend. The flight was delayed, so we went to the bar and I was telling him about something that happened in one of the games. One of the other patrons overheard and loked at me and said, "So you're a hockey player, eh?"
I shook my head sadly, "No, not really."
I guess that technically, I am; I put skates and equipment on, grab my stick and go out on the ice...there's a puck present and there are other people playing hockey around me. I do my best to keep up, but...
I guess there's two qualifications here, someone who just throws on some equipment and heads to the rink, and someone who can actually play the game. From my perspective as a fresh beginner (3 weeks into my first training program), I would say the for the latter group it's all in the skating. Going in I thought skating would be my strong point. I have all the tools for it, strong legs and could run the 100 in under 12 back in high school. But now that I'm actually learning proper ice hockey there's so many little tricks to skating that I realize I've got a long way to go, and it really stands out to me now how natural an NHL'er looks on their skates.
Not that you should be able to skate like an NHL'er to fit the 'Hockey Player' group, but I'm sure anybody that's played hockey growing up has the same thing.
I'd say that if you currently play pick-up or in a league, you're a hockey player. If you don't play pick-up or in a league anymore, then you're an ex-hockey player. If you've never played pick-up or in a league, you're a hockey fan.
If you give everything you've got during a hockey game, then you are a "Hockey Player."
No one gives everything they've got. It's maybe the worst hockey cliché. You might want to think that you or some NHLer on your favorite team do so, but in reality you can always work harder and play better.
If I were to pull some numbers out of my ass, I'd say the hardest workers(NHL or not) give over 90 % effort, and the majority is in the 80-90 % range. People aren't machines, they can't perform up to their full capability over an extended period like a hockey game. Only for short instants.
In short, I think passion for the game is the best response to this question. Of course you sorta have to play regularly too.
To me it's an attitude. I don't really equate it to skill or talent I have played with a lot of players with awesome talent but they didn't have the attitude. Hockey is a team game and to me being a hockey player is being a team guy. Will you give your all for the other guys on your team? Will you go in the corner first with a guy breathing down your neck ready to hand you your head? Will you stand in front of the net and screen the goalie while your teammate blasts a 90mph slapshot? Will you block shots? Bottom line......whatever you have, will you bust your ass to maximize it and make a difference to your team? Anyone I have ever played with that could give me that I considered a hockey player.