The ballet starts before each NHL game, once the last anthem notes trail off and the house lights turn on. Watch next time. The choreography is easy to learn.
On the bench, trainers and equipment managers pass out packets no bigger than Tootsie Rolls, tossing others to players out of reach. The players then squeeze the packet, which is sheathed in cotton for protection, and crack the glass vial inside. In case they need help, two arrows on the label point to a dot in the middle. “CRUSH ONCE, USE AND DISCARD,” it says, then below that, “CRUSH HERE.”
Waving the broken capsule under their noses, back and forth to spread the smell, they begin to wiggle and shake, like dogs after a bath. Their noses wrinkle and their nostrils flare. Some hop in place. Others merely wince and squeeze their eyes shut. “There’s probably some pretty good photography that goes along with that,” says Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. He is surely not wrong.