Puffy coats, espresso, swearing: How NHL head coaches keep heat in an ice-cold rink (even in the summertime)

St. Louis bench boss Craig Berube sported a gray warm-up jacket for his workforce’s exhibition recreation and a vibrant Blues blue one throughout Sunday’s round-robin match-up. 

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella — he of the sweater and hoodie fame — wore a navy blue quarter-zip mock turtleneck for his workforce’s tune-up and the opener of the qualifying spherical.

Rick Tocchet donned a quilted black jacket throughout his Coyotes’ Sport 1 win over the Predators stating, “it is chilly, there’s no followers. … I’m a nasty coach once I’m chilly, so I wished to be heat.”

Yep, because the lyricist and rap legend Vanilla Ice famously postulated, “Ice, ice child, too chilly, too chilly,” and when you’ve a sheet of it that spans 200-by-85 ft, it will probably get downright chilly. 

For the primary time in NHL historical past, the league is hitting the ice through the scorching, humid days of summer time. Usually, a rink is stored round 23 to 24 levels Fahrenheit at ice-level — however that’s when the temperature exterior dips into the 40s, 30s or decrease. 

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In August, temperatures can vary wherever from the 70s to triple digits, with the at all times pleasurable (no, not likely) added factor of humidity. To fight the exterior warmth — regardless of that followers gained’t be coming out and in and incorporating their physique warmth into the air — the ice temperature might be dropped a couple of digits, to round 19 levels, making it a tad frostier than the standard 50-ish temperature on the bench.

However whereas some coaches went for hotter duds within the NHL’s restart, most stored the established order — which ought to come as no shock.

“You realize what, I suck it up,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy instructed Sporting Information through the 2019-20 NHL common season. “I’ve 4 rinks, I feel, I’d say off the highest of my head that I do know they’re going to be a T-shirt beneath as a result of I do not at all times even put on one. Philadelphia is by far the coldest rink within the league. 

“I drink loads of espresso, so which may naturally hold me heat.”


The NHL restarted it’s 2020 postseason this previous weekend and, fortunately for the Boston bench boss and nearly all of coaches with whom SN spoke, the chilly confines of the Wells Fargo Middle — or Carolina’s PNC Area and it’s wind tunnel — aren’t being inhabited for the postseason. As a substitute, it’s Rogers Place in Edmonton and Scotiabank Area in Toronto.

Again in December, newly minted Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe famous that Ontario’s NHL rink “from my expertise teaching there with the Marlies, [it] was one of many colder arenas even on the AHL circuit.” 

Nevertheless, for the previous NHLer who performed 125 video games for the Lightning in balmy Tampa Bay, it’s nothing like his days on the Junior ‘A’ circuit.

“I’ve received loads of expertise in chilly arenas from my time teaching within the decrease ranks,” he mentioned. “There, it was full overcoats and a few of the coaches would put on gloves on the bench and all of that. 

“I refused to put on the gloves; I drew the road on the gloves however hand heaters I considered usually. However, these days I’d be carrying long-johns and lengthy shirts and generally a full sweatsuit beneath my go well with. However, pleased I don’t have to do this anymore.”

Properly, maintain on a second, Sheldon. You mentioned it was chilly in Scotiabank and the Lightning’s Jon Cooper famous that it was “extraordinarily chilly” throughout his squad’s exhibition recreation.

“As I’ve gotten older — this can be a actual factor that you simply’re speaking about — a few of these buildings are freezing now,” talked about long-time Jets head man Paul Maurice through the season, including that if he is carrying a three-piece go well with, it is his inform that it’s a chilly constructing.

However how else does he actually deal with the chilly?

“I normally swear sufficient in order that retains me heat.” (And there is a good likelihood he was undoubtedly doing a lot of that on Saturday.)

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Fellow 50-something head man Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders takes a barely extra direct strategy. 

“The trick is I put on a superb, heavy coat. I do not go for the skinny coats. I’m going for a well-made coat and I am at all times buttoned up,” he instructed Sporting Information through the season, mentioning that he’s additionally a fan of the three-piece go well with within the colder rinks.

“For me, it is simply retaining my ft transferring on the bench, and my trick, the factor to me that I realized, I used to put on leather-soled sneakers, slightly slippery whenever you needed to go throughout the ice. However [now] I put on rubber-soled sneakers, as a result of it retains your ft heat.”

No toe heaters right here for Trotz or his contemporaries, regardless of them feeling that all-too-familiar chill within the air at sure factors of their busy day.

“I freeze in warm-up,” mentioned Keefe’s predecessor in Toronto, Mike Babcock, earlier than he received the axe. “Sincere to God, when the sport begins, I am by no means chilly. I do not know the reply to that. That is in all probability adrenaline or pleasure within the recreation or no matter, so I do not get chilly. I am freezing in warm-up, although. It is unbelievable. You go to the recent climates, and you then go on the rink there and  you are feeling such as you’re dying, to say the least. However then when the sport begins … no impact.”

As for Keefe, he additionally thinks when the sport motion is occurring, it’s not so dangerous; earlier than that is one other story.

“One factor I discover is the coldest instances within the video games are the nationwide anthems since you simply received on the bench,” Keefe mentioned. “You are not likely into the sport but and the gamers aren’t into the sport. As soon as the gamers get transferring and their physique temperatures rise, I discover it will get much more comfy as a result of the warmth on the bench. The gamers are heat they usually’re sweating and you bought all these males within the tight, tight quarters, it does get hotter through the video games, in order that helps.”


The Oilers’ Dave Tippett (citing adrenaline), ex-Devils and now Nashville’s John Hynes (who copped to carrying a John Tortorella-like sweater throughout his AHL days and a winter jacket in European rinks) and former Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant (who mentioned he wore an undershirt as soon as in Buffalo, however “may not have been feeling good”) all agree the chilly by no means bothered them anyway on the NHL degree, exterior of some choose rinks.

“I just like the chilly,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith instructed Sporting Information through the NHL’s 2019-20 common season. “So it does not trouble me. I would go golf shirt if I may.”

It is protected to say that not many would agree with Smith proper now. Even some reporters, including Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson, famous that it is “frickin’ freezing” means up within the low cost seats the place the media has been dispatched.

No matter how the temperature is on the bench, because the postseason continues rolling, one factor is for certain: The coaches might be fired up because the motion on the ice might be red-hot with hockey marching towards crowning it’s 2020 Stanley Cup champion.