NEWARK, N.J. -- Blake Coleman rarely finds himself in a 'pickle' whenever he's overcome by fatigue or cramping in the late stages of any hockey game.
That's because the New Jersey Devils forward has the perfect remedy -- pickle juice.
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Coleman, nicknamed 'Pickles' by his teammates, is the only player on New Jersey to open the pickle jar and drink the brine at least once every game in an effort to energize his muscles.
"It's something that started in college (Miami University, Ohio) for me, especially when I was playing in those high altitudes in Colorado," Coleman said. "I had heard about it through football and from a couple of guys in college but once I got to the pros, for whatever reason, I started cramping a little bit more. I've tried pretty much everything there is to try to combat the cramps, but for me pickle juice was the one thing that really proved to work."
Coleman has seen increased ice time as the Devils' fourth-line center in the absence of Travis Zajac (left pectoral muscle surgery) and Brian Boyle (chronic myeloid leukemia) this season. He's averaged 13:58, including 2:19 shorthanded in five games. In 23 games last season he averaged 12:50, including 1:02 shorthanded.
"It's working for him because he's flying," coach John Hynes said. "You look at today's day and age of different things that guys do and that's certainly unique but it seems like it's helping him. He's got all kinds of energy and he's playing really well for us so my advice is just keep drinking the pickle juice."
Coleman was caught on camera having his pickle jar delivered by teammate Brian Gibbons 7:04 into the third period of a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche in the Devils season opener on Oct. 7.
"He asked for it on the bench and before I could get it to him he was given a penalty, so our equipment manager (Chris Scoppetto) had me run it over to him in the box," Gibbons said. "Coleman was drinking that pickle juice when we were in the American Hockey League (in Albany) last season. He says he has a cramping issue. I don't know if it's mental or what, but if it helps, why not?
"When I was in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (in the AHL) a few years ago, our trainer gave us mustard packets to help re-energize us."
A study done in 2013 by Kevin C. Miller in the department of health, nutrition, and exercise sciences at North Dakota State University suggests that not only does pickle juice relieve muscle cramps within 35 seconds of ingestion, but those cramps lasted about 49 seconds less when subjects drank pickle juice instead of water.
"I think it started for me my junior or senior year at Miami," Coleman said. "The guys kind of laugh about it; and they called me 'Pickles.'"
Coleman must do his own shopping for pickles prior to every game.
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"It's a huge pain; I buy a jar before the game and bring it in," he said. "Usually I'll try and plan based on the schedule that week. If I don't have time to get jars on the road, I'll ask the away staff during the pregame meal. They look at me funny and then bring me a jar of pickles, or pickle juice."
Coleman said he averages about a half-a-jar per game, but depending on the on-ice temperature and conditions, he could end up drinking an entire jar.
"A few of the boys eat the pickles, but I'm the only one who drinks the juice," Coleman said. "It's not too bad. You kind of take it like a shot, just get it down. From what I read, there's also a neurological side to it, too."
Coleman received a case of premium pickle brine in wine bottles from Brine Brothers, based out of River Edge, New Jersey, last week.
Gibbons was asked if he has ever tried the pickle juice.
"I usually have Biosteel drinks or Gatorade, the normal approach I guess," Gibbons said with a grin. "But, whatever works for Blake is fine with me."