You’re either a hockey guy, or you’re not

Kurtis Dulle. (Photo: Art Foster.)
Kurtis Dulle. (Photo: Art Foster.)

Last week a couple of articles crossed my path that needless to say left me torn and a little bit speechless to say the least. Both well written articles were by former pro player and Hull Stingray, Kurtis Dulle on his newly tell-all blog. The first, entitled “What I miss about pro hockey” ran a list of things that are no brainers to people who have played some aspect of professional sport; not necessarily hockey. I enjoyed every minute of that piece as I missed most of the things he wrote but in relation to me with fastball. However the second article, ticked me right off.

Naturally his follow up article was “What I DON’T miss about pro hockey”. Fair enough, there’s always going to be things that pop up that you don’t like but the things he listed were not what I expected coming from a guy whose job is professional hockey. Without going into too much detail – actually, you know what? Go read it then come back. I’ll wait. “What I don’t miss about pro hockey” by Kurtis Dulle.

Okay, hold up.

Your full time job is being a professional hockey player. You can’t tell me that you didn’t know all of these were going to happen. Granted, I can see how sharing a bus with 15 or so others guys on an 18 hour drive could get monotonous but that’s part of the territory. This isn’t the NHL; pro hockey isn’t glamorous.

Don’t miss having to wear a suit to and from the rink; don’t miss the promotional sides of the job handing out flyers to fans or scheduled player appearances. Don’t miss having weekends off (even though most of the week is), don’t miss the smell of the gloves, don’t miss cooking pre-game meals – Jesus, doesn’t anybody have that old school passion anymore?

Actually, I know one guy who does.

Hughes in Scotland. (Photo: Derek Black.)
Hughes in Scotland. (Photo: Derek Black.)

Current Brampton Beast head coach, Brent Hughes, had his hockey career cut short prematurely by the untimely passing of his father. After honouring his Dad’s wishes by playing a final game in Dundee, Scotland, Hughes dropped the contract he was under for next season and returned home to be closer to family. A bittersweet decision but one that had to be made. One that he didn’t see coming.

Hughes didn’t get to control the end of his career. He never got that last planned game; that final goal; that last wave to the crowd where he no doubt would have been named first star. No, he came back to Canada with uncertainty of where to turn and a sadness of his career being over. It might have been over but the passion never left.

Jumping into the coaching aspect, Hughes made his way behind the bench in the ECHL. That passion sees him leave for Brampton’s Powerade Centre at 5am, not just to beat the traffic, but to lace up his skates, get out onto the ice and shoot the puck around. By himself. Alone. “Everything that Dulle wrote that he doesn’t miss,” Hughes said. “Is exactly what I miss every single day.”

Hughes taking the time to help out at a hockey camp in Scotland.
Hughes taking the time to help out at a hockey camp in Scotland.

Hughes eats, breathes and sleeps hockey. “I miss those 18 hour bus rides. I miss the aches and pains.” Not only that, he knows the benefits of professional hockey out weigh the cons of being away from family, friends and rearranging your life in a new country. “You may not break the bank playing hockey, but the connections the sport gives you is second to none.” He lays emphasis on those player appearances and the need to suit up that Dulle listed down as a “don’t miss”. “You have to realize this is your job. Both of those things are extremely important. What’s not to like about talking with fans?!”

In the end the game has obviously changed, even in the last ten years or so. I’m not sure if it’s a more “entitled” aspect that players seem to grasp but the old school vibe is starting to fade. Hughes may be another part of a dying breed in hockey, who knows. One thing’s for certain though.

You’re either a hockey guy, or you’re not.

Like the page on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey, follow me on Twitter, @MarchHockey 

Advertisements

One on One with Hull Stingray/Peterborough Phantom Scott Robson

wmXZrvnO
(Photo: Tom Scott)

Scott Robson is one of the young British lads who are making their names known on the British hockey scene. First suiting up back in 2007 with the Junior B squad of the Manchester Phoenix, the then 12 year old was making an impact from the very first time he stepped onto the ice. At 18 years of age, he suited up and made his debut for 37 games with the Elite leagues Hull Stingrays proving he could ice with the best of the Brits that were out there. This season he is on a two-way contract, spending his time between both the EIHL’s Stingrays and the EPL’s Peterborough Phantoms. Here’s a bit of a look into the mind of young Scott Robson.

March Hockey: What made you get into hockey and why?

Scott Robson: Both of my parents and family played a big role in getting me started into ice hockey and I couldn’t thank them enough for it. I grew up watching the games as far back as I can remember; whether it be Humberside Seahawks or the Manchester Storm. I can even remember watching my current coach in Peterborough (Slava Koulikov) play in Hull when I was little!. I’ve been fortunate over the years to travel to all sorts of countries like Canada, America, Sweden and the majority of Europe to watch hockey which made me become addicted to it before I even hit the age of 10.

MH: How do you describe your style of play? Who do you look up to as a player, if anybody?

(Photo: Allan Foster)
(Photo: Arthur Foster)

SR: I’d describe myself as a very offensive D-man who loves to join the rush but capable of looking after the defensive zone first. Over my years with Hull I’ve been able to learn so much from each defenseman on whether they’ll be a offensive or defensive style of player which hopefully solidifies my game. I love watching Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators with the way he jumps into the rush and makes a big play.

MH: What are some of the advantages of playing for both an EPL team and an EIHL team? Are there any disadvantages?

SR: The main advantage is that I have two teams and two sets of different players in which I can learn from and develop further. Also having two different styles of coaches that are looking out for me and my best interests. They are giving me an opportunity every night to play consistently and making me reach my full potential. There isn’t a disadvantage to me being on a two way. I think its great for me and both Peterborough and Hull.

MH: What do you feel you can add to this year’s Hull Stingrays lineup?

SR: I feel I can add a bit of an offensive jump from the defensive zone and give a more attacking style of play. I’d like to give off a capable attitude of playing in the EIHL. It’s all still a learning curve for me and I’m just grateful for the opportunity. After the first weekend playing in both games for Hull,  I already feel I’ve been taught valuable lessons so to speak.

MH: This will be your first time in the EPL as a member of the Peterborough Phantoms, what do you see for them in terms of how the season will play out?

SR: I’m excited of course.  I’ve been really impressed with Peterborough and how well run and co-ordinated everything is here. We’ve been together for three weeks now where other teams are just getting to know their teammates. I think that will make a big difference to the way we start early in the season. I think we have a strong team; from our goalie, to our defence and forwards. I think we are a hardworking team and going to push teams to the full 60 minutes each night on a constant basis. We are going to shock teams no doubt.  I’m really excited and ready for the opening weekend. I’m sure the boys are too.

MH: Where would you like your career to take you?

166769_156259717866252_2144511560_nSR: I’ve never really thought about it too much as in “what’s my top goal in hockey”.  Just play it year by year, improve as much as I can every year and enjoy it. The realistic goal of winning a championship with both Hull and Peterborough this year I think is possible with what looks to be both strong teams. I’ve always liked the idea of playing in Australia for a summer  just to experience something that would be a unforgettable. I’ve talked to a few guys who have played over there and they’ve all said how great, wonderful and passionate the fans are!

MH: If you could watch any game with any two teams, who would they be and why?

SR: That’s a tough one. I’d think I’d have to go with the 1997-1998 Vancouver Canucks team with the likes of Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Mark Messier, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, Jyrki Lumme, and Gino Odjick. Purely because it was a team full of spark and speed. (Noteably I was only 2/3 years old!). They’d be up against the more modern 2005/06 Vancouver Canucks team with Naslund, the Sedin twins, Morrison, Bertuzzi, Jovanoski, Kesler. It’s probably the team I liked the most just because of the style of play. Obviously I’m a big Canucks fan!

Special thanks to Scott for taking the time to do this one-on-one! All the best for the upcoming season! I’ll be keeping an eye on you buddy! 😉