The picture you see above features my American League roommate/ECHL teammate Micheal Haley (#32), less than a year ago. He’s played in 52 NHL games, compiled 163 PIM, and has scored one of the prettiest goals you’ve ever seen during his time with the New York Islanders and Rangers. The dude can flat-out play on top of being Rocky on skates, I assure you that.
However, he can’t play play at an NHL level if he’s not willing to muck it up. He’s a 5’10″ physical assassin with fine hands, but he’s not fast enough to be an effective offensive player at the top level, and not big enough to be a full-time heavy there. So when he gets his shot, he’s gotta take it with whoever’s ready. He knows his role. And so, we get to the picture you see above. He’s looking for someone, anyone to engage him during warmup.
As he should.
Coaches love what Haley’s doing there. He’s drawing the line in the sand between us and them, he’s making it clear that tonight is going to be no fun for the Bruins when he’s out there, and he doesn’t want to be friends. He’s talking to the opponent, but with a purpose.
The thing is, not everyone shares Haley’s thirst for blood. Some of us actually quite like our opponents. But for the love of god, Bourne, please stop smiling and joking with other players. Get your hate on. Read the rest of this entry »
Re-post from my original, personal blog. Hope it helps you understand the nature of the pro hockey life for someone who isn’t rich and famous.
My favourite call-up story:
As you probably know by now, I’m engaged to Clark Gillies Daughter, Brianna.
At the time of this story, I was playing for the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL (that’s me up above, shortly before my coach became the 64th one I’ve had tell me to smile less), and she was finishing her Masters at Stonybrook University (Long Island, NY), interning and taking classes to become an Occupational Therapist. Finding time to be together was tough. Read the rest of this entry »
David Perron meets with the Edmonton media two weeks after his trade to the Oilers. (Photo by EdmontonOilers.com)
Hotel life isn’t out of the ordinary for David Perron. After six seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, bunking with a teammate in different cities during a road trip is simply part of the job and hardly even a hassle.
But this isn’t the usual hotel stay for Perron. He’s not sharing space with a teammate as they prepare to play a game the following night. Instead, his roommates are his girlfriend, two dogs and a cat. There’s no game the next day or the day after that. All that awaits Perron in Edmonton, two weeks before the Oilers start training camp on Sept. 11, is a day with an informal practice with new his teammates and another extended search for a place to live in his new city.
Perron and his family would share that hotel room for 10 days before they finally found a suitable home in Edmonton with owners willing to rent to a couple with three pets.
“Oh what a mess that was,” Perron said. “I was with two dogs, one cat and my girlfriend in a hotel room for a week and a half. It’s tough to get the dogs some exercise. They don’t know where they are, so every time someone walks in the hallway, they’re barking.
“After a couple days there, they kind of settled down and got used to it. But the first couple days, were, well, different.”
The NHL lifestyle has its perks to be sure, but there are pockets of stress around every corner when you’ve been traded. It was especially true for Perron, whose first NHL trade sent him to an unfamiliar city to join unfamiliar teammates, none of whom he could lean on for help during the summer.
It also left him with the unenviable task of having to move twice in about two months. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve ever played a sport competitively, at any level really, you’ve experienced some form of heartbreak. It’s just the nature of sports – they don’t always go your way, as great a player as you may be. In the wake of those devastating losses you find yourself with very few options – quit, which you’re not doing because…seriously? – or pick yourself up off the canvas and get back to punching or being punched, whichever.
The Boston Bruins led 3-1 in the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on the road…and lost in triple OT. That’s, as Jim Nantz would say, a nut-punch like no other. (Disclaimer: that quote may be slightly off.)
But they play again tomorrow, and they’re going to have to watch video and assess what went wrong and right, they’re going to have to go to morning skate day of, and they’re going to have to nap, shower, put the suit on and start over again.
But when you show up to the rink for that first time after you’ve had your junk punted into your stomach, you badly need the game to get under way to snap the quiet tension in the dressing room. All you see is guys quietly hanging suits, all you hear is the ripping of tape and the hum of one lone wheel grinding against steel. Read the rest of this entry »
Good lord, look at that picture of Trevor Gillies above. It’s not enough that he’s a naturally big guy, or that he lifts weights to make that body stronger, or that he trains to fight for a living, but he’s also got the kill switch flipped. And he’s a lefty. Zoinks.
His opponent, Jon Mirasty, is no slouch either. The stories of “Nasty Mirasty” in the ECHL threatened “Oglethorpe” levels during my own playing days, and he’s been plying his “craft” over in Russia the past couple seasons. None of that was enough to avoid a worst-case scenario type ending for him in his tilt with Gillies though, with him knocked out, jersey over his head, Bambi-legged.
All fighters know that a loss doesn’t make you any more or less of a warrior willing to put yourself on the line, and that gets you respect from your fellow fighters. The crazy part is, “you’re only as good as your last fight” is sort of a thing. In fact, it’s sort of an embarrassing thing if your last fight saw you fail to enter the penalty box without almost falling over backwards.
The clip below features some interesting stuff starting around the 9:00 mark (if the autoplay doesn’t work), and includes a mic’d up Mirasty and Gillies deciding to fight, and a few interviews – first a Russian gent, then Jeremy Yablonski, then Mirasty, then Gillies. But by far, the most interesting sound bite and reason I’m writing this post is because of the illuminating conversation between Mirasty and Gillies on fight culture. As I mentioned a moment ago, being put to sleep on the ice is not how fighters like to go down.
At around 12:07 they cut to a seemingly lucid Mirasty explaining that they’re going again. Below is a little running diary from the 9:00 mark to the end – I find their comments super-interesting. Read the rest of this entry »