Skates and Sticks: Hockey’s Fascination With Cigars
In the rough and tumble world of hockey, cigars have always held a special place. Few sports take victory cigars as seriously as hockey does- especially when it comes to the Stanley Cup. Former player and famed Hockey analyst Barry Melrose loves the camaraderie of cigars and is often found smoking in the studios with colleagues after a game. As a former coach, he has talked about the bonding over cigars with his players- in both victory and defeat. His choice of cigar? Fuente Opus X.
Hockey and Cigars: The Gold Medal Scandal
When the 2010 Canadian Women’s Olympic team beat the U.S. for the gold medal, they were chastised for their exuberant celebration, which involved plenty of cigars and champagne. It caused such an uproar, that the International Olympic Committee investigated the “offensive” behavior. (They were cleared of any wrong doing). Some players argued it was a double standard compared to the men’s teams. Countless Stanley Cup championship teams have been photographed enjoying trophy cigars while posing with the cup.
What Does the Great One Smoke?
Few professional athletes attain true greatness. Only one is called “The Great One.” Wayne Gretzky has been the face of hockey even after nearly 20 years of retirement. To this day, he still holds or shares over 60 NHL records. He started playing hockey at age 2, taught by his father. When he turned 27, he smoked his first cigar, once again with his father. He has long since traded his skates for golf spikes. On the golf course, you will always find him with a mild, creamy cigar. As a Canadian, he has enjoyed access to Cuban cigars; his preference is Hoyo de Monterey, 44 ring size.
Does the Art of Hockey and Cigars Imitate Life?
Pittsburgh Penguin legend Mario Lemieux was also a very well-known cigar smoker. He smoked through most of his career, before giving it up during a scary fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His love of cigars has manifested itself in a different manner, by having Oliva as the official cigar sponsor of his annual Mario Lemieux Foundation Celebrity Invitational golf fundraiser. All guests playing in the outing receive a box of Oliva’s Connecticut Reserve cigar, a well-crafted medium to full-flavored smoke.
Has Smoking Changed In Hockey?
Generations ago, hockey arenas were enveloped in clouds of smoke. Hall of Famers like Guy Lafleur, Denis Savard, and Mike Bossy smoked in between periods. Former Toronto Maple Leaf Al Iafrate was seen lighting up while on the bench during a game. In the 1980’s, the influx of Eastern European players saw cigarette smoking among players skyrocket. As habits changed, and the debilitating effects of cigarettes were realized, players looked to the occasional post game cigar to relax.
Mobile Cigar Lounge
Some former players have taken their love of cigars to the next level. When Florida enacted a smoking ban, players often smoked in the parking lot after the games. An idea was born, and it kept the players out of the stifling Florida heat. Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup winners Dave Andreychuk and Stan Neckar are co–owners of the Mobile Cigar Lounge. It is an exquisitely equipped mobile home retrofitted to feel like an upscale lounge with ostrich leather seats. Now the mobile home can be found outside of games and golf events, or be rented for the day. Players and fans alike can enjoy cigars while enjoying hockey games in pure comfort.
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