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“Sauna is an important part of our team’s health and wellness routine” – a current NHL coach.

I had the pleasure of taking a bike ride today through the urban trails of Minneapolis, MN with a former National Hockey League player and current NHL coach.  

We talked about many sauna things including:

I was excited to learn that sauna is a big part of many NHL players’ regimen.

Most if not all NHL locker rooms have a sauna (albeit heated with an electric stove).  Many of the players hit the sauna after practices and games.

Sauna and hockey are intertwined.  Yes, the Scandinavian players (Every Finn for sure) bring sauna culture with them to North America.  But the Canadian hockey players love sauna too.  Many have grown up with sauna in their small Northern towns and at their lake cottages.

We all know about the magic of the three round sauna, but many NHL players subscribe to a four round sauna regime.  Perhaps this is a nod to the fact well known to every hockey player that it takes four series wins to be a Stanley Cup champion.

It is also a well known and rarely disputed fact that NHL players are in the best shape of any athletes playing in any of the major sports.  The level of conditioning, skill, strength and endurance is unmatched.  But NHL players aren’t the ones talking about this.  Like conversation in sauna, it’s usually respectful and one’s actions aren’t judged, as long as one remembers to close the sauna door.  NHL players are hard working and humble – virtually all without the ego and selfishness we see in other sports.

Sauna and hockey are both about developing inner strength.  Fortitude.  Embracing extremes. Mutual trust and friendship.  Oh, and of course, creativity:

Former NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Ville Nieminen using the Stanley Cup to toss water on the sauna rocks.  September 5, 2001, then with the Colorado Avalanche.
Former NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Ville Nieminen using the Stanley Cup to toss water on the rocks in the fire department sauna in Tempere, Finland. September 5, 2001, then with the Colorado Avalanche.

 

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