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The Caps and smelling salts

After the first period of Saturday's Caps win over the Coyotes, the CSN broadcast showed a clip of Alex Ovechkin taking a whiff of smelling salts and grimacing. See above.

Now, smelling salts have long been available on hockey benches, and are used as sort of a ritual by some players, but it's something I've never asked the Caps about. So this week I did.

"I've never used a smelling salt in my life," Brooks Laich told me.

"I use salt in my food a lot," Matt Bradley chimed in from the next stall.

"Sometimes I put salt on eggs," Laich continued.

"Or pepper," Bradley said.

Yes, it was comedy hour at Kettler. Turning (marginally) serious, Laich said if he gets hit hard, he'll "get some water, straighten the senses out, go back on the ice." But the dressing room does have at least a few guys who use the smelling salts as part of their routine. Mike Knuble, for example, waves them in front of his nose before every period.

"It's more just a habit, I'm not sniffing them," he said. "I don't think it's good for your brain, probably. It makes you like, whoooo if you sniff it hard, but I don't really want to sniff it hard."

Brendan Morrison does the same thing shortly before every game, "just to kind of get a quick wake up," he said.

"I'm not a guy that sits there and inhales the whole thing, just a quick little sniff just to give you that little alertness right off the bat," he said. "It's almost like a quick shot of wasabi, you know what I mean? It's just like bam, and you're like, whoa....It might be more routine than anything."

"There was always half a dozen guys that did, ever since I played junior," said Bruce Boudreau, who never was into the smelling salts thing. "It wakes you up, I guess. I don't know. I've never done it."

Most of the other players I asked also avoided the stuff.

"I tried, one, because Juicie took it and put it under my nose," Tomas Fleischmann said of the departed Milan Jurcina. "But it smells bad."

"Nobody in this corner uses smelling salts," said David Steckel, who sits near Laich and Bradley. "Gatorade, just make sure you're hydrated."

"I don't even like to get near the stuff," Tom Poti said.

"You ever use smelling salts, every time you type a bad blog?" Laich also asked me. I don't, but it might not be a terrible idea.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 26, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Man, I had that stuff waived under my nose once, and all but came up swinging. It was after I'd crushed my thumb between two 1,000-pound marble tables at a candy making shop I worked for at the time. DAMN, that stuff was nasty!

Posted by: irockthered | January 26, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Haha, my girlfriend thought Ovi was smelling his chapstick.

Never smelled smelling salts myself, but I am curious enough to try. Did you take a whiff Dan?

Btw, this is me eagerly awaiting a London Fletcher Pro Bowl piece.

Posted by: MillBurray | January 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Tomas Fleischmann said of the departed Milan Jurcina."

Jurcina died?!?!

Posted by: Incredulous2 | January 26, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Jurcina died?!?!"

Worse. He was traded to Columbus.

Posted by: wahoo2x | January 26, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Good Cap stuff. That is all we ask for man. Just throw us a bone every other day.

Posted by: lavar609 | January 26, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

having been around the NFL for the better part of 20 years now, i can say that most teams use these a lot. Smelling salts are used to literally wake you up, whether you need a pick me up, or if you are knocked out or whoozy from a hit. the main ingredient is ammonia.

Posted by: erico31us | January 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather played pro hockey back in the 30s and 40s as a goalie. Back then, they didn't have backup goalies (in non-NHL leagues at least), and obviously he didn't wear a mask. If he took a puck to the head, they'd skate him over to the bench, the trainer would play goal for a few minutes, they'd give my grandfather smelling salts till he got it together, then pushed him back out there.

Old time hockey.

Posted by: jgperras | January 26, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Smelling salts" stimulate the mucous membranes, triggering an inhalation reflex. Any benefits would be from taking taking a deep breath, which can be accomplished without the use of the "smelling salts".
Harmless, but not recommended for an injured person as the involuntary sharp inhalation could exacerbate an undiagnosed neck injury.

Posted by: gewhiteva | January 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

you see Ovi with them a lot. they showed an extended shot of him getting all salty before the puck dropped for the penguins game

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | January 26, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

you see Ovi with them a lot. they showed an extended shot of him getting all salty before the puck dropped for the penguins game

Posted by: JohnnyBlades

New Caps shirt idea:
Get Salty!
Get Salted!

Posted by: rmontcal | January 26, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Never tried them and hope I never will have to.

Posted by: Dlewis10 | January 26, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Juice isn't dead.. but he did have a great assist last night. Let a nasty slapshop go from the blue line that was tipped in. Glad to see he's doing well. More glad he's not here (in a good way).

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | January 27, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

STECKEL?!!! what are you saying?!?! buckeyes don't drink gatorade!!!!!

Posted by: rubyx4soho | January 28, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

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