No, that’s not a typo.
Pee youuuuuuu. That’s the distinctively disgusting smell of the hockey equipment bag.
Unzip it at your own peril. It contains a witch’s brew of bacteria, sweat, mucus, dried blood, metal, foam, and plastic. The scent has been described as a combination of rotten eggs, dirty socks, a wet dog, and low tide.
The hockey bag smell drives hockey moms bonkers.
“I’d say the hockey bag is the smelliest thing in the world,” said Laura Norris as she gazed lovingly at her son Cal, a clean-scrubbed 7-year-old munching on pizza before a Bruins scrimmage game.
On tournament days, she said, his bag is distinctive.
“It smells like a combination of really bad-smelling feet, throw up, and probably a little bit of a dirty diaper,” said Norris. “It gets aired out after every practice, except if it’s not warm enough, then unfortunately it gets aired out in my kitchen.
“It’s disgusting. It gets sprayed down with Clorox spray. It masks it but doesn’t really get rid of it.”
Former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan said his mother viewed his stinky bag as a major misconduct.
“My mother used to go nuts,” said Nilan, who grew up in West Roxbury. “I was too tired and lazy after practice to unpack it and air it out.
“My mother said, ‘If you don’t start airing that out, I’m going to throw it out.’ So one day she tossed it out. I had to get it out of the garbage.”
Nilan said the odor is unique to hockey.
“They just stink from the sweat and throwing stuff in,” he said. “It’s a cloth bag. It retains the sweat, that musky smell. You clean your underwear but you still have the scent and it kind of ferments a little.
“That’s a part of the character of the sport. The smell. I still have my Canadiens bag; there’s a little smell in it. They all smell the same. You can be in a California locker room and it’d smell the same as in Boston.”
To Nilan, though, the aroma is nirvana.
“There’s nothing better,” he said. "It smells like a hockey locker room. Ever since I was a kid. It’s the smell of hockey. The smell of your pads and your skates. That good hockey smell.”
Good as gold to him
Jack O’Callahan was part of the “Miracle On Ice” 1980 US Olympic team that upset the mighty Russians en route to a gold medal. The pride of Charlestown played seven seasons in the NHL before co-founding Beanpot Financial Services in Chicago. His olfactory receptors are a bit eccentric.
“Ha, I actually like that smell,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It’s like the line in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ modified a bit: ‘I love the smell of my stinky hockey bag in the morning. It smells like Victory.’ ”
O’Callahan’s 1980 Olympic bag is one of his most cherished possessions.
“My ’80 bag is in a safe deposit box in Glencoe, Ill., with the other stuff, probably stinking up everyone’s diamonds,” he said.
Washing someone’s hockey bag can be the ultimate show of love. It can even lead to a diamond.
Heather Stone of Pembroke used to wash her then-boyfriend’s stinky hockey bag while they were dating in 1999.
But no more.
“I tried to be helpful,” she said, “but he said I made it smell too good, too flowery, and I haven’t touched it since.”
Jim Stone says he likes the way his hockey bag smells. Today, the couple have four kids and seven hockey bags. Jim and the kids are allowed in the house; the bags are not.
“We have a swimming pool business, and it’s seasonal,” said Heather. “When we shut down, it turns into our hockey locker room. We store the bags next door with the chlorine.”
Other wives are not as fortunate.
Anthony Sorrentino of Lynn hates when his hockey stuff gets frozen outside in the winter.
“We play late, so when I come home, I’ll put my stuff in the spare room where the computer is and shut the door so it doesn’t stink up the rest of house,” he said.
“My wife will get up at 5 a.m. to go to work, and she’ll walk in to go use the computer and there’s my raunchy, stinking hockey bag with no windows open. And you can hear her gag.
“She’s gagging, she’s swearing, and then she’s up throwing elbow pads at me.”
Cleaning it up in NHL
In the Bruins locker room at TD Garden, Chris Bourque, 26, smiles at the subject. He survived the old Boston Garden as a kid with his father, Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque.
“I’m used to the smell,” he said. “I grew up in a locker room, so it doesn’t really bother me.
“My wife doesn’t like it so much. She says, ‘Get that stuff out of the house, go wash your hands, stuff like that.’
“It’s just sweaty old hockey equipment that has been worn for a long time. The stench doesn’t go away. In the NHL, the rooms are lot cleaner. They put in air fresheners and wash our equipment for us, so it’s a little bit better.”
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, whose hockey bag never left the arenas in his native Slovakia, also thinks the smell is getting better in the NHL.
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.