Sunday 23 July 2017

'They just send him out, go out and drink 20 pints, go off with a couple of women' - Lee Chin on ice hockey experience

Watch Lee Chin in AIB’s The Toughest Trade this Friday at 10:35pm on RTÉ2
Watch Lee Chin in AIB’s The Toughest Trade this Friday at 10:35pm on RTÉ2
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

"More drinking and more fighting, that’s what I’m encouraging here," Lee Chin laughs, as he signs off on his media duties for the day.

The Wexford star has just answered the last of the questions at his press conference ahead of Friday night’s airing of The Toughest Trade, the TV show that saw him swap places with former NHL goalkeeper Alex Auld.

Chin was impressed with much of what he saw and admits to being envious of the professional lifestyle in ice hockey.

But nothing left a mark quite like their attitude to fist fights, which are legal in ice hockey, or the drinking culture in the sport, where players might drink the day before the game.

"The whole ruling around being able to throw off the gloves and fight. I didn’t understand it at first and at first I thought it was so barbaric that it was allowed go on in a sport because it’s crazy," Chin explained.

"But when I asked the players what the story was the were able to tell me and it intrigued me. Literally the players police that ruling over there.

"And there’s nothing in the rule book to say you can’t do it. So it’s there for the players to protect themselves. If a guy is acting the maggot on the ice with another guy he has to pay for what he’s done and that’s the way they look at it.

"Basically they police that rule and they feel if the rule went out of the game and there was no more fighting, the game would get so much dirtier. That’s why the rule is there. If a guy is acting the maggot he has to pay for his actions. That’s what they believe in."

Their attitude to alcohol also caught him off guard. And he insisted that sometimes players are encouraged to go out to blow off steam in order to help improve his game.

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​"The drinking culture that they had there, I couldn't believe it! They were lowering pints the day before a game, I couldn't believe it.

"I had lunch there with them all and Erik Gudbranson was sitting across from me with one of his team-mates and I had a guy here beside me that trained me during the week. Erik was injured but the other guys, the two of them ordered two pints of Heineken or something. I had a glass of water in front of me. I was thinking, 'these lads are playing tomorrow, will the two of them be injured?'

"I was thinking I had to ask what's the story? I just asked, 'are you playing tomorrow?' He says, 'I am, yeah'. He looked at me as if, 'yeah, of course'. I was like, 'And you're having a pint, yeah?' He was 'yeah', looked at me as if, 'what's the big deal? what's the problem?'

"Managers, coaches and everyone was sitting around and I was thinking, 'I wouldn't do this with Davy, I'll tell you that!' I wouldn't actually do it at home on my own anyway, never mind if it was in front of Davy.

"They just believe in it. Like, they have this thing called a 'change-up', if a player is not on form or not scoring, either the manager or the other players will just call a 'change-up' and basically that lad has to go out and ruin himself for the night and come back the next day and play the game, to play with the attitude that you just don't care, that kind of thing.

"They just send him out, go out and drink 20 pints, go off with a couple of women, do what you want and come back to me the next day! That's pretty much the way they live."

"This is the culture and this is what they believe in and they believe they have got to be able to let off that steam. I don't know if they look at the side of the scientifics behind it but I know we do (in Wexford)."

Chin swapped places with former Vancouver Canucks goalkeeper Alex Auld, who also spent a week in Wexford hurling with Chin’s club, Faythe Harriers. The Toughest Trade, sponsored by AIB, airs on RTE at 10.35 on Friday night.

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