"Catch-up hockey is losing hockey” means that when a team is down by one goal or more, it’s very difficult to come back and win. ‘Catch-up hockey is losing hockey” was said by New Jersey Devils Coach Tom McVie in March 1984, and it’s probable that McVie coined (or at least popularized) the saying.
“Catch-up hockey is losing hockey” has also been credited to Ted Donato (born in 1969), but the saying had been used before Donato entered the National Hockey League.
Wikipedia: Tom McVie
Tom McVie (born June 6, 1935 in Trail, British Columbia) was a coach in the National Hockey League. He coached the Washington Capitals from the 1975–76 season to the middle of the 1978–79 season. He moved to the Winnipeg Jets, then in the World Hockey Association, and coached the team with Bill Sutherland in its first two NHL seasons, 1979–80 and 1980–81. He replaced Bill MacMillan as head coach of the New Jersey Devils midway through the 1983–84 season, in which the team posted the worst record in its history. McVie returned as an NHL head coach with the Devils in 1991–92 after coaching the AHL Utica Devils. He has served in the Boston Bruins organization for 17 years, 11 of them as a scout. He finally got his name on the Stanley Cup in 2011 with Boston.
20 March 1984, Trenton (NJ) Times, “Flyers,” pg. D5, col. 5:
“Catch-up hockey is losing hockey. Something always goes wrong. That’s what happened tonight. We were trying to score and we got caught in deep.”
(New Jersey Devils coach Tom McVie—ed.)
13 May 1985, Philadelphia (PA) Daily News, “A not so sunny Sunday: Flyers lose advantage,” Sports, pg. 96:
Catch-up hockey is losing hockey.
Google News Archive
11 December 1986, Schenectady (NY) Gazette, “Red Wings Top Mariners, Extend Lead” by Mike Kane, pg. 43, col. 4:
“Now you’re in the category of what I always say, ‘Catch-up hockey is losing hockey.’”
(Maine coach Tom McVie—ed.)
6 March 1987, The Capital (Annapolis, MD), “NHL” by the Associated Press, pg. C3, col. 4:
“We came on at the end,” said New Jersey Coach Doug Carpenter, “but we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win. We allowed them to come out and take charge in the first period. Catch-up hockey for us is losing hockey.”
8 December 1989, Brandon (Manitoba) Sun, “Whalers continues success on road by edging Bruins,” pg. 9, col. 1:
“You don’t get down 4-1 and try to play desperation hockey,” said forward Andy Brickley. “Catch-up hockey is losing hockey.”
Boston (MA) Globe
Comfort zone isn’t good place for Bruins
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 27, 2011
To quote old pal Tom McVie, and a million other coaches from peewee to senior hockey, catch-up hockey is losing hockey.
@Bruins_101 “Catch-up hockey is losing hockey”.
6:48 PM - 21 Feb 13