Ice hockey is a sport that has been around for over a century and continues to be one of the most popular sports worldwide. While fans enjoy watching their favorite teams battle it out on the ice, they also eagerly anticipate the intermissions during the game. These breaks provide an opportunity for viewers to grab snacks, use the restroom, or stretch their legs before returning to watch the remainder of the match.
Have you ever wondered why hockey intermissions are 18 minutes long? It might seem like an arbitrary length of time, but there’s a reason behind it. The NHL decided that this amount of time was ideal because it allows for enough time for cleaning the ice surface while still keeping the game moving along.
“The extra few minutes give us more time for everything from resurfacing the ice to video replays without significantly impacting the overall duration of the game,” said John Dellapina of the NHL public relations department.
But that’s not all; these intermissions also play an important role in player safety. Hockey is a physically demanding sport, and players need time to rest and recover between periods. An extended break can help reduce injuries related to fatigue while allowing coaches to strategize and adjust their game plans.
Now that you know why hockey intermissions last 18 minutes let’s take a closer look at what happens during these breaks and how they impact the pace of the game.
History of Intermissions in Hockey
The Early Days of Hockey Intermissions
In the early days of hockey, intermissions were not a regular part of games. However, as the sport evolved and became more physically demanding, players required breaks to rest and recover. In fact, some early ice rinks didn’t have boards around the outside of the rink, so players would often skate off the ice during play to take a breather.
When intermissions were first introduced, they typically lasted only 10 minutes. This allowed players time to hydrate and catch their breath before returning to the ice for the second period. Additionally, it gave teams an opportunity to regroup and make changes to their strategy.
“In today’s game, if you don’t come out with jump after that long intermission, something is wrong.” -Former NHL player Kris Draper
Changes in Intermission Lengths Over Time
As television broadcasts of hockey games became more common, networks requested longer intermissions to fit in commercial breaks. Eventually, the standard length of an intermission grew to 17-18 minutes. This extra time also gave fans in attendance a chance to visit concessions stands or use the restroom without missing any action on the ice.
The extended intermission had some unintended consequences. Some players found it difficult to stay mentally focused during such a long break. To combat this, coaches may hold mini-sessions with players, focusing on areas where they can improve or reiterating the team’s overall strategy for the remainder of the game. Players might also stretch or go through light exercises to keep their bodies warmed up during the extended downtime.
“It takes a little bit of mental preparation…to get ready and keep your energy high for the start of the next period.” -Former NHL player Derrick Smith
Despite these changes, some leagues still have shorter intermissions. For example, the NCAA mandates that hockey games must have a 15 minute break between the second and third periods.
The length of an intermission in hockey is designed to give players and fans alike a chance to recharge before returning to the game. While it may seem like a long time compared to other sports’ breaks, most spectators look forward to the respite and use it as an opportunity to grab food or drink and socialize with friends.
How 18 Minutes Became the Standard
Origins of the 18-Minute Intermission
The origins of the 18-minute intermission in hockey can be traced back to the early days of professional ice hockey. Before the National Hockey League (NHL) was formed, teams would play in local rinks and arenas that did not have modern cooling systems or proper facilities for players and spectators. Games were played on natural ice surfaces and lasted for hours.
Eventually, as the sport grew in popularity, more people started attending these games, forcing organizers and players to make some changes. One of those changes was introducing a break between periods so that both players and fans could get some respite from the long game sessions. During this time, coaches would give their players instructions, trainers would attend to any injuries, and players would take a quick rest.
Factors That Influenced the Decision
The decision to standardize intermissions to 18 minutes was influenced by several factors such as player health, viewership experience, and advertising revenue. Sports scientists recommended 15-20 minute breaks between halves/periods, as it allowed athletes enough time to recover and rehydrate without risking injury or exhaustion.
In addition, putting an exact time limit meant that broadcasters could schedule programming accordingly, allowing them to maximize exposure for advertisers and provide a predictable viewing experience for audiences watching at home. This maximization helped bring in exponential revenue through advertisements. Therefore, with all things considered, 18 minutes appeared to be an optimal time period for an intermission break.
Evolution of the 18-Minute Intermission
The length of the intermission has remained consistent in major North American leagues like NHL and NCAA, but the content of the break has changed over time. Initially, intermissions were used primarily as a break for the players to refresh themselves and receive instructions from their coaches.
Today, NHL broadcasts focus heavily on using this downtime effectively to keep fans engaged and entertained during the game’s pauses. Live music performances, cheerleaders, interactive fan experiences, and fun games have become quite common in recent times. Moreover, the 18-minute interval acts as an opportune moment for players to recharge and rejuvenate through strategy refresher sessions or physiotherapy.
The Impact of the 18-Minute Intermission on Player Performance
“Intermissions play a significant role in helping players recover, recover from minor injuries sustained during gameplay, hydrate sufficiently, and replenish energy stores,” said Dr Kevin Haussler- Director of Athletic Training Education at Michigan State University’s Kinesiology Department.
If you ask any coach or player, they will tell you that the intermission period is vital concerning performance outcomes. It provides them with enough time to regain their fluid levels, which helps to reduce the risk of cramping or dehydration-related episodes occurring out of exhaustion. Additionally, it offers players a chance to recover or get treatment for minor knocks or bruises sustained throughout gameplay. As such, the eighteenth minute pause between periods benefits both the athletes’ physical health and mental well-being, ensuring they can perform at peak levels when playing resumes.
The Science Behind the 18-Minute Break
Why are hockey intermissions 18 minutes? This seemingly arbitrary amount of time is actually backed by science and research. There are multiple factors that play a role in determining the length of an intermission, including physiology, hydration and nutrition, and mental preparation.
The Physiology of Rest and Recovery
A key reason why hockey intermissions last 18 minutes is that it gives players enough time to properly rest and recover between periods. Hockey is a physically demanding sport that requires bursts of intense activity followed by brief periods of recovery. During a game, players’ heart rates can reach up to 190 beats per minute, which puts significant strain on their bodies.
According to Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, “The short answer is that athletes need downtime during games to recharge their batteries, but not so much time that they go cold.” In other words, the 18-minute break strikes a balance between allowing players to rest and recover without losing momentum or getting too stiff from sitting still for too long.
The Importance of Hydration and Nutrition During Intermissions
Another factor that plays into the length of a hockey intermission is the need for proper hydration and nutrition. According to Dr. Chris Renna, a sports medicine specialist, “During breaks, there is ample time for rehydration and refueling with healthy snacks and water.” Given the high intensity of hockey, it’s important for players to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes as well as consume foods that provide quick energy.
Hockey coaches and trainers often use the intermissions as an opportunity to provide players with snacks like fruit, granola bars, or protein shakes that are easy to digest and help keep players fueled and hydrated for the remainder of the game. The 18-minute break allows players enough time to consume these snacks and beverages without feeling rushed or bloated.
The Role of Mental Preparation During the Intermission
Lastly, the length of a hockey intermission is influenced by the role that mental preparation plays in helping athletes perform at their best. According to Dr. Metzl, “In addition to rest and hydration, the downtime between periods also provides an opportunity for athletes to focus on what they need to do better in the next period.” This could involve reviewing game footage, strategizing with teammates and coaches, or simply taking a few moments to clear their minds and mentally prepare for the remainder of the game.
When asked about why hockey intermissions are 18 minutes long specifically, Dr. Renna explains, “The most important thing is not the exact amount of time, but rather the fact that there is time provided for teams to regroup and recharge during games”. In other words, while 18 minutes may seem like an arbitrary length of time, it serves as a critical window for players to address physical, nutritional, and mental needs that are crucial for peak performance on the ice.
“The short answer is that athletes need downtime during games to recharge their batteries, but not so much time that they go cold.” – Dr. Jordan Metzl
There are multiple factors that play into determining the length of a hockey intermission. These include providing players with enough time to properly rest and recover physiologically, allowing for proper hydration and nutrition, and creating opportunities for mental preparation. While 18 minutes may seem like an arbitrary amount of time, it strikes a balance between addressing all these important factors while still keeping the game moving forward efficiently.
The Importance of Ice Maintenance During Intermissions
In hockey games, intermissions are typically 18 minutes long. This may seem like a short period, but it is crucial for the ice maintenance crew to execute their job properly during this time in order to ensure players’ safety and playability.
The Effects of Skating on the Ice Surface
Every time players skate on the ice surface, they create scrapes and grooves. These marks can disrupt the flow of the game, cause skaters to trip or fall, and even damage equipment. If left unattended, these issues could quickly escalate into bigger problems.
Moreover, depending on the temperature inside the rink, the ice surface can get softer with more extensive use, resulting in dangerous slushy spots that make the puck difficult to shoot and maneuver. Even worse, such conditions can slow down players’ movements, increase the risk of injuries, and decrease overall player satisfaction.
The Process of Zamboni Maintenance
Zambonis are standard vehicles used to clean and resurface the ice between periods. The process usually takes around several minutes with various steps involved. First, the machine cleans the top layer of snow, water, debris, and other unwanted material from the ice. Afterward, added hot water helps smooth over and stick together any remaining ice shavings on the surface.
Next, multiple thin layers of water are applied using special nozzles to carefully build up a level surface without damaging the ice underneath. This step ensures the surface is ready for maximum performance by returning the ideal balance of hardness and resilience necessary to allow optimal blade contact and speed needed for the fast-paced sport.
The Importance of Maintaining a Consistent Ice Surface
A consistent ice surface is vital for keeping the game fair and safe. Various markings on the ice, such as blue lines, center line, face-off circles, etc., help hockey players determine where they stand on the rink and what strategies to use during gameplay. However, these lines will only be helpful if they are accurately placed according to official rules and regulations.
Furthermore, a stable surface also helps prevent injuries and inconsistencies in performance. Constantly adjusting to unsuspected changes in conditions can impact player health and lead to frustration or drop-in play quality, resulting in unsatisfactory outcomes for spectators and fans alike.
“Maintaining the ice sheet is one of the most critical things crews do in an NHL arena.”-Andrew Greenstein
Ice maintenance during intermissions may seem like a short break from gameplay, but it’s crucial in ensuring players’ safety and creating optimal playing conditions. Without this period, players would have to navigate dangerous impurities on the ice surface and could potentially suffer from reduced speed, declines in quality of their equipment, and increase risks of injury. By following proper maintenance procedures like using Zambonis to clean and apply needed water levels to the ice, people involved in hockey games at all levels can enjoy a fun and safe environment that establishes fairness and trust with both players and enthusiasts signing up for future matches.
The Impact of 18-Minute Intermissions on Television Broadcasts
Ice hockey is a sport that requires much physical exertion from players, and although the game is divided into three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, there are two intermissions that give them a reprieve. These breaks also serve as opportunities for commercial advertising, analysis, and entertainment which have all become essential components of televised sports broadcasts. However, while it may seem like this timing was arbitrarily chosen, there are good reasons why hockey intermissions last 18 minutes.
The Role of Commercials During Intermissions
A pivotal aspect of television broadcasting revolves around the distribution of commercials during programming, including sporting events. Advertisers pay significant fees to networks in exchange for exposure to an extensive audience demographic. The 18-minute interval throughout hockey games allows broadcasters ample time to insert multiple ads without losing interest subjecting viewers to long ad breaks. Fewer interruptions lead to more fan engagement and longer watch times. Therefore, the length of these intervals must be carefully designed with advertising-broadcast balance considerations.
Challenges Faced by Broadcasters During the Intermission
Broadcasting hockey comes with distinctive sets of challenges than other forms of media coverage. One such challenge arises during intermissions when arenas get busy with activities that could interrupt access to equipment and cabling required for live transmissions. Players might use some areas of the arena between breaks, leaving crew members hurried setting up their positions promptly. Given this, broadcast entities make advances toward addressing operations difficulties and adjusting advertisements to ensure the seamless flow of events at halftime.
The Use of Intermission Analysis in Television Broadcasts
Another pivotal reason why hockey intermissions last 18 minutes is to provide analysis of the game so far. Analysis proves critical informative moments for fans as they get a chance to review game highlights while being guided by experts on topics such as shot accuracy, missed opportunities, and play analysis. Fans also receive additional insights from interviews with players and coaches which enable them deeper appreciation of the contesting teams.
Viewer Engagement During Intermissions
Intermission festivities have become an integral part of hockey broadcasts, especially in North America where broadcasters go above and beyond to provide fan interactions during these breaks. Such activities include mascots entertaining the crowd (home team fans), shots of celebrities enjoying themselves, giveaways, mini-games played among attendants or callers, and occasionally even celebrity appearances like musicians or comedians. Viewers anticipate these segments and longer intervals help keep their excitement levels up and preventing losing interest in games in between periods.
“Games do not only attract die-hard sports fans but also casual viewers who are looking for entertainment.” -John Pollack
18-minute intermissions continue to be part of hockey broadcasting because it provides advertisers ample time for commercial breaks appealingly spaced out ads keeping fans engaged and providing informative halftime analysis without feeling too tedious. Broadcast entities also use this interval to work around arena logistics challenges, ensuring that all operations run smoothly throughout playtime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are hockey intermissions 18 minutes?
Hockey intermissions are 18 minutes long to allow players enough time to rest and recover between periods. The game is physically demanding and requires high levels of intensity, so players need time to replenish their energy and hydrate. Additionally, the 18-minute intermission allows for ice resurfacing and maintenance, which is necessary to ensure the playing surface is safe and in good condition for the next period.
How did the 18-minute intermission become the standard in hockey?
The 18-minute intermission in hockey became the standard in the mid-1920s. At the time, games were played in three 20-minute periods, but the intermissions were only 10 minutes long. However, players began to complain that 10 minutes was not enough time to rest and recover between periods. In response to these concerns, the intermission was extended to 15 minutes, and then to the current 18 minutes in the 1950s.
What is the purpose of an 18-minute intermission in hockey?
The purpose of an 18-minute intermission in hockey is to give players time to rest, recover, and rehydrate between periods. It also allows for ice resurfacing and maintenance, which is essential for player safety and to ensure the game is played on a high-quality surface. The intermission also provides an opportunity for coaches to make adjustments and for fans to grab refreshments, use the restroom, and socialize.
Are there any benefits to having an 18-minute intermission in hockey?
Yes, there are several benefits to having an 18-minute intermission in hockey. Firstly, it allows players to rest and recover between periods, which can help prevent injuries and improve performance. Secondly, it allows for ice resurfacing and maintenance, which ensures the playing surface is safe and in good condition. Finally, the intermission provides an opportunity for coaches to make adjustments and for fans to grab refreshments, use the restroom, and socialize.
Could the length of hockey intermissions change in the future?
It is unlikely that the length of hockey intermissions will change in the future. The 18-minute intermission has become a standard part of the game, and changing it would require significant adjustments to the entire structure of the game. Additionally, players and coaches have become accustomed to the length of the intermission, and it is unlikely that they would want it to be shorter or longer. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the 18-minute intermission will remain a fixture of hockey for the foreseeable future.