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Puff coats, espresso, swearing: How NHL head coaches keep heat in an ice-cold ice rink (even in summer time)

Craig Berube, the head of the St. Louis bank, wore a gray warm-up jacket for his team’s exhibition game and a light blue for Sunday’s round robin match.

The head coach of Blue Jackets, John Tortorella – he was famous for his sweater and hoodie – wore a dark blue turtleneck with a quarter zip to coordinate his team and kick off the qualifying round.

Rick Tocchet put on a quilted black jacket during his win at Coyotes’ Game 1 against the Predators and said, “It’s cold, there aren’t fans … I’m a bad coach when I’m cold, so I wanted to be warm be.”

Yes, as the songwriter and rap legend Vanilla Ice famously postulated: “Ice, baby ice cream, too cold, too cold”, and if you have a sheet of it that spans 200 by 85 feet, it can get really cold.

For the first time in the history of the NHL, the league hits the ice on hot, humid summer days. Usually an ice rink is kept at 23 to 24 degrees Fahrenheit – but then the outside temperature drops to the 40s, 30s or lower.

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In August, temperatures can range from the 70s to three-digit numbers, with the always pleasant (no, not really) additional element of humidity being added. To counteract the external heat – even though the fans do not go in and out and allow their body heat to flow into the air – the ice temperature is lowered by a few places to around 19 degrees, which makes them a little frostier than the usual 50-is temperature on the bench .

While some coaches chose warmer guys when restarting the NHL, most kept the status quo – which should come as no surprise.

“You know what, I’m absorbing it,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told Sporting News during the 2019-20 NHL regular season. “I have four ice rinks, I think I would say I know they will be a shirt underneath because I don’t always wear one. Philadelphia is by far the coldest ice rink in the league.

“I drink a lot of coffee, which of course could keep me warm.”

The NHL resumed its post-2020 season last weekend, and luckily for the Boston bank manager and the majority of the coaches with whom SN spoke, the cold frontiers of the Wells Fargo Center – or Carolina’s PNC Arena and its wind tunnel – are not inhabited for the postseason. Instead, it’s Rogers Place in Edmonton and Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Back in December, freshly baked Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe noticed that Ontario’s NHL ice rink “from my experience as a trainer with the Marlies” [it] was one of the colder arenas even on the AHL racetrack. ”

For the former NHL player, who played 125 games for the Lightning in mild Tampa Bay, this is nothing more than his days on the Junior A track.

“I have a lot of experience in cold arenas from my time as a coach in the lower ranks,” he said. “There used to be full coats and some of the trainers wore gloves on the bench and so on.

“I refused to wear the gloves; I drew the line on the gloves, but on the hand warmers that I often thought of. But at that time I was wearing long pants and long shirts and sometimes a full tracksuit under my suit. But happy that must be I don’t do it anymore. “

Hold on, Sheldon. They said it was cold in the Scotiabank, and Jon Cooper from the Blitz noticed that it was “extremely cold” during his team’s exhibition game.

“When I got older – that’s a real thing you’re talking about – some of these buildings are freezing now,” long-time Jets boss Paul Maurice said during the season, adding when he wears a triple. Piece of suit, it’s his statement that it’s a cold building.

But how else does he really deal with the cold?

“I usually swear enough to keep myself warm.” (And there’s a good chance he definitely did a lot of it on Saturday.)

MORE: The NHL playoff bracket has been updated

50-year-old Barry Despite from the New York Islanders is a little more direct.

“The trick is that I wear a good, heavy coat. I don’t use thin coats. I pick a well-made coat and I am always buttoned up,” he said to Sporting News during the season, mentioning that he was too a fan of the three-piece suit in the colder ice rinks.

“For me, it’s just keeping my feet moving on the bench, and my trick, what I learned was that I wore leather-soled shoes, a bit slippery when you had to walk over the ice. But [now] I wear rubber soled shoes because it keeps your feet warm. “

No toe warmers here for defiance or his contemporaries, though they feel the all too familiar chills in the air at certain points of their busy day.

“I freeze when I warm up,” said Keefes predecessor in Toronto, Mike Babcock, before he got the ax. “Honestly to God, when the game starts, I’m never cold. I don’t know the answer to that. This is probably adrenaline or excitement in the game or whatever, so I don’t get cold. However, I’m freezing in the warm-up. It’s incredible. You go into the hot climates and then you go to the ice rink and you feel like you are dying, to say the least. But then when the game starts … no effect. “

As for Keefe, he also thinks that if the game takes place, it’s not that bad. before that is another story.

“One thing I find is that the coldest times in games are the national anthems because you just got on the bench,” said Keefe. “You are not really in the game and the players are not yet in the game. As soon as the players move and their body temperatures rise, it becomes much more comfortable for me because the heat on the bench. The players are warm and they sweat and you have all these men in the tight, tight neighborhoods, it gets warmer during the games, so that helps. “

Dave Tippett of the Oilers (citing adrenaline), ex-Devils and now John Hynes of Nashville (who wore a John Tortorella-like sweater and winter jacket on European ice rinks during his AHL days) and the former head coach of Golden Knights, Gerard Gallant (Who said he once wore an undershirt in Buffalo but “might not feel good”?) Everyone agrees that the cold never bothered them at the NHL level, except for a few selected ice rinks.

“I like the cold,” said Senator head coach D.J. Smith told Sporting News during the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season. “So I don’t mind. I would go golf shirt if I could.”

It is safe to say that not many Smith would agree at the moment. Even some reporters, including Post Gil’s Wes Gilbertson, found that it was “damn freezing cold” in the cheap places where the media were sent.

Regardless of how the temperature on the bench is while the postseason continues to roll, one thing is certain: the coaches are cheered on as the action on the ice gets blazing hot and ice hockey marches to crown the 2020 Stanley Cup champion.

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