Dude, what happened?
Our goalie covered the puck. The referee blew his whistle. A guy from the other team kept jabbing at our goalie, whacking away at his leg pads, trying to shake the puck loose.
My teammate and I pushed the guy down, and kind of held him there for a moment. To cool him off.
You thought holding him down forcibly would cool him off?
Not really. Most of us wear cages on the front of our helmets.
I know, it sounds ridiculous.
What’s ridiculous is that you’re a grown man. You have a wife and kids. Last year you threw out your back, and couldn’t tie your shoes for seven days. Why are you playing ice hockey?
It’s fun! The skating, the passing, the camaraderie.
The getting in fights with strangers.
The other guy got suspended for longer than I did. Four to six games.
What did your wife think of all this?
I think she was fine with it. I didn’t go into all the details with her.
But she knows you were in a fight, right?
Are you sure?
I said there was some rough stuff, generally speaking.
You didn’t tell her.
Was this the first time you were in a fight?
There was another one a long time ago. Maybe 15 years ago. We didn’t wear cages back then, so that was an actual fight.
I thought it went okay. Most of it was okay. Truthfully, I panicked for a moment right after we started to fight. The referee came racing over and shouted to the other players: ‘Give ‘em room, boys!”
You were expecting him to break it up.
I didn’t know what he would do. It was my first fight.
Perfect black-eye. Like in a movie.
There was a guy at the newspaper where I worked. He played for the other team. He came to my desk a couple days later. He just kind of shook his head and laughed.
“Doesn’t look good,” he said.
“How about Mark?” I asked. “How does he look?”
“Cut lip? Redness?”
“Just like a … I don’t know, I want to say a scratch? Like a fingernail scratch? Down the back of his neck. Pretty long one, too.”
You realize that’s a very embarrassing story, for you. You scratched a man with your fingernail.
I have no idea what I did. He caught me flush in the eye with an uppercut. I saw stars.
Did you tell your wife about that incident?
We weren’t married yet. It was a long-distance relationship.
You didn’t tell her about that one either.
Zung Nguyen! He’s famous. He was in a fight, too. But after he got kicked out, instead of just showering and going home, he went and found the other guy’s gloves, and pooped in one of them.
What are you giggling about? That’s disgusting.
No, I know.
I didn’t do it. This was another person.
But you realize you’re, like, one step removed from that guy.
That’s a pretty big step.
They call him Winnie the Pooh now. The guy who did that.
Because that’s how you pronounce his last name, Nguyen. It sounds like –
I get the joke. I just think it’s disgusting.
But the nickname is funny, right?
You’re not going to tell my wife about this, are you? My league is kind of expensive. If she knew every last little detail, I don’t know … she might take it the wrong way. She might not be as supportive. You know what I mean?
I know exactly what you mean.