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Tools of the trade: Mouthguards

by Kelsey Peters / Chicago Blackhawks

Michael Jordan had his North Carolina shorts. Jim McMahon had his headbands. Patrick Kane has his mouthguards. 

“They get beat up pretty quick obviously because I chew on them,” said Kane. “Even if it’s beat up though, if I’m playing good at the time, I’ll stick with that mouthpiece because I think it’s good luck. But I usually change them up every six or seven games, out of necessity. It’s always nice when you get a fresh one in there.”

Photos, like the one above, with Kane’s mouthguard hanging out have become the 23-year-old’s trademark over the past five years with the Blackhawks. But why doesn’t he use it to protect those pearly whites?

“It’s something I’ll catch myself doing, and I’ll be like, ‘Put your mouthpiece back in your mouth,’” said Kane. “It’s just a habit I guess.” 

While most guys go through two or three mouthguards a season, Kane goes through about 20. Every player has at least one backup, but Kane has around 10. 

“There was one time where I went through all of my mouthguards, and we’d run out of new ones in the locker room,” said Kane. “I had one for 10 or 15 games straight, and I’d be in the washroom twice a game putting mouthwash in there. They can get pretty disgusting.”

Kane’s roommate Jonathan Toews echoes that sentiment. 

“Sometimes it’ll fall on the ground, and the guys on the bench will just pick it up and rinse it off,” said Toews. “It’s not good. You definitely have to throw in some Listerine every once in a while. But I think Kane chews through them pretty quickly and switches it up enough that they don’t get too bad.”

Mike Gapski, the Blackhawks head athletic trainer, says he encourages the players to keep their mouthguards in containers and then rinse then with mouthwash before use. Occasionally he’ll clean them in peroxide.

Kane’s game-used mouthguards have gained enough notoriety that they’ve been auctioned off at the Blackhawks Convention’s Locker Room Sale — one fetching upwards of $4,000. There’s also one on display in the museum at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier.

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