NHL stars love mid-game mustard breaks, and it’s not because they’re eating hotdogs. (At least some of them aren’t.) So, why do hockey players eat mustard?
The mustard helps hockey players with cramps, according to Mark Former NHL forward Letestu said who played Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Winnipeg Jets.
Mark explained the tradition after he was caught sucking on a mustard packet in a 2019 Jets-Oilers game. He said the mustard gives him relief from muscle cramps. “Over the years, I’ve seen various guys do it on and off. I just had a little bit of a cramping problem, asked for it … It helps. It works. I didn’t have any issues the rest of the game.”
He added: “There are a few guys in here that [cramping] is like clockwork in the third period. I’ve taken just about everything for it, salt packets, pickle juice, but here it seems to be mustard … It tastes like crap for a couple of seconds, and the cramp goes away. … I don’t discriminate against mustard. Mustard’s all right by me.”
Coach Paul Maurice could vouch for mustard’s popularity among his players. He said, “[Jets forward] Adam Lowry buys it by the bucket. I’m surprised that it was big news. I’ve seen it for a while. A lot of us have.”
Paul added, “I’ve had a goalie hiding a dog in his mitt. Like, you look down, and you’re not sure, and the glove goes up to his face, and then it goes back down. He was dehydrated. … You know, can’t take too big a bite because it’s obviously noticeable, but if it’s too small, you’ve got the dog in your glove way too long.”
Skip to near the end for Paul Maurice’s reaction to Letestu downing a mustard packet on the bench. https://t.co/WwpzAYhBH6
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) September 28, 2019
But there is more sneaky behavior the coach had witnessed, “Uh, pizza between periods. Guys smoking in the dryer. Because, like, nobody can smell it then, right, because the dryer is vented? [I] had a guy like that, few cigarettes between periods.”
It turns out, hockey players aren’t the only ones in this habit. Kerryon Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles noticed that when he was still at high school and playing football for Alabama’s Madison Academy Mustangs was spotted squirting mustard into his mouth when he was still a high school football star. He tweeted at the time, “It helps with cramps, OK?. I really hate mustard, though.”
A study published last year in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, mustard — along with sweet relish and pickle juice — ranks among “the most practical sources for acetic acid for strength and conditioning” This is reason enough to grab some more.
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