By now, we’ve all experienced the “phenomena.” Whether it’s a player on your team, an opponent, or just looking at the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 2010 [Pictured], you are more than aware that there is a mouth-guard problem in the NHL.
For whatever reason, certain players are struggling to keep their protective gear in their respective places. They are designed to protect the teeth and help prevent concussions, but some NHLers are not conforming to their benefits.
We finally may have a reason why.
After speaking with a few representatives of teams around the league, we have learned that there is a revolutionary experiment making its way through the equipment rooms throughout the league: Flavored mouth guards based on the cities or states the team is located.
For Chicago the flavor is believed to be that of the famous Wrigley Dog.
So the obvious next question would be, “does Pat Kane hate Wrigley Dogs?”
The source added that there could be some pranksters either within the teams or within the manufacturers.
“I won’t confirm nor deny it, but did you ever wonder what happens to the ivy every winter when it withers at Wrigley Field?” he added.
Crossing Lake Michigan, the state of Michigan and then Lake Erie, you’ll land in the great hockey town of Buffalo.
In that city, there’s an expected flavor and one prank taste that is raising the eyebrows of those with information of the trial. The traditional flavor is of course, the Buffalo Wing. Just like the wings themselves there are varying degrees of heat to the mouth guards, which is entirely to be expected. What is not expected, however, is a flavor unique to only those who have either lived in the city of Buffalo, or have visited when the wind coming off Lake Erie is blowing in the proper direction.
It comes in every once in a while. That familiar odor that just makes you think of… breakfast. Breakfast? Yes, that’s right, if you walk around the city when the wind is blowing east to west certain days of the week, you will smell breakfast cereals and not just any cereal but Lucky Charms and Cheerios. An unnamed team source has stated the rookie pranks have centered around this little known aspect of the Queen City. Rather than getting the “big boy” flavors, the Sabres’ young guns have been handed their Sippy Cups and kid cereal mouth pieces.
“It was funny, I was expecting atomic wings when I put in my mouth guard during practice, and instead I’m tasting Hearts, Horseshoes, Clovers, Rainbows and Balloons,” said one of the rookies following their thrilling 1-0 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday night. “I was told I could change it, but why bother at this point?”
When asked if this trend would carry on into next season or even hit the retail markets, the source said, “Everything’s status quo, when we know more we will pass that along to the public.”
Speculation is that the idea could be a hit in certain markets and a disaster in others.
In New Jersey, it is debated which flavor the Devils received Funnel Cake inspired by the nearby Jersey Shore Boardwalk, or cattails stemming from their old stomping grounds in the Meadowlands.
The California teams are also having a less than savoring flavors to their mouth pieces with different brands of sunscreen as the primary, but their also being a fruit base to them.
On the other side of the spectrum, Dallas has been fortunate in having barbecue as their flavor, Tampa Bay and Florida each have a distinctive type of tropical drinks, and Boston has the historical Fenway Frank to cross promote the Red Sox.
“We get sun-block, the Bruins and Hawks get hot dogs, where is the justice in that? At leave give the B’s clam chowder or something!” scoffed a member of a West Coast team.
“We are trying to be innovative. This is the first step. These mouth pieces not only protect the players, but they take away the dissatisfying taste of rubber. Now, even teams that lose shouldn’t have a bitter taste in their mouth,” laughed one executive.
Only time will tell if the concept catches on, but based upon the number of players who have their mouth guards pinned to their cheek rather than fully encasing their teeth, the reaction to the idea has no greater than mixed results.