This week’s interview is with Washington Galaxy D Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom.
SHL Digest: We’re here talking to one of the league’s most fearsome fighters, the man they call “Boom Boom,” Bruce Hogaboom. Bruce, thanks for speaking with us.
Bruce Hogaboom: No one calls me Bruce except my mom. Call me Boom Boom or Boomer.
SHLD: Okay, Boomer. When we talk about the real heavyweights in this league, the guys who really know how to throw down, a handful of names come up. Max Madison in Michigan, Hercules Mulligan in Hamilton, Dmitri Kalashnikov in Quebec, Ruslan Gromov in Hershey, and you.
BH: “Heavyweight!” I like the sound of that. Yeah, the guys you mentioned, we’re the cream of the enforcer crop.
SHLD: Other than yourself, who do you think is the best fighter in the league?
BH: It’s gotta be Mad Max. He’s wiry, so he’s hard to pin down, and he comes at you from a bunch of different angles. And that guy has no fear whatsoever. He’ll drop the gloves any time in any situation. And he’s a good two-way player too, which is hardly fair. That’s like a boxer who paints like Picasso.
SHLD: Some enforcers really like to fight, while others think of it as just their job. Do you like to fight?
BH: Absolutely! Isn’t it obvious? I love to fight. I love to watch fights. I study the tape all the time.
SHLD: You study tape of… fights?
BH: Sure. If you’re a big-time scorer, you watch tape of your shots to see if you need to tweak your approach. If you’re a fighter, you study fights, to watch your technique and how other guys like to fight, so you can get the upper hand. Some people think that fighting isn’t a skill, but if you’re serious about it, it is.
SHLD: Interesting! A lot of fans might be surprised to hear that.
BH: And honestly, I just love to watch my old fights for the fun of it. A good fight is like a good steak or a fine wine; one of life’s pleasures.
SHLD: Have you always been a fighter?
BH: Ever since I could skate, pretty much. I always wanted to play pro hockey, but I couldn’t shoot and I wasn’t a great passer. I thought about being a goalie, but you have to be nuts to take some of the shots that they take. But when I started scrapping, I found out I have heavy hands and I could fight well.
SHLD: That’s for sure!
BH: It felt good. Before I started fighting, I usually got picked last or nearly last, because I wasn’t a great player. But after, guys started picking me first, because they wanted the protection. I recognized my skill and developed it.
SHLD: And you kept on developing that as you got older.
BH: Definitely! When I was thirteen, I gave my fists nicknames, because I thought that sounded cool. My right was Randy, and my left was Matilda.
SHLD: Randy and Matilda… interesting names!
BH: Yeah. I’d loosen guys up with Randy, then I’d bring out Matilda and drop them. Word started to spread, and the enforcers in other towns would come around just to fight me. And I beat them all. I was the Mike Tyson of central Alberta.
SHLD: Some people say that fighting and enforcers have no place in the modern game, and should be banned. What would you say to those people?
BH: I’d say that’s a crazy idea. First of all, plenty of fans love the fights. Look at all the fight videos on YouTube. Listen to the crowd whoop it up when guys go at it. People might not admit it, but they love the violence. Second, it actually makes the sport safer. Ask our skill guys, Jeff [McNeely] and Thurm [Casey Thurman] and Eddie [Costello]. If another team wants to take a run at those guys, they think about me coming out to even the score and they lay off. It helps discourage the really dangerous hits.
SHLD: You’ve been suspended before, when you left the bench to fight with a player. Did you think that was a fair suspension?
BH: [laughs] That game against Michigan, that was crazy. The Wolves were out there flying around and railing guys, and the refs didn’t want to do anything about it. So I put a stop to it. Did I go too far? Probably, but I tell you: they dialed it back the next time they played us. They got the message.
SHLD: This season, you’re skating on the third pairing with a rookie, Bert Hampton, who’s also a tough customer!
BH: Hacksaw! I love him. On the team, they call him “Little Boomer,” because he plays the same way I do. I’ve been teaching him all kinds of pointers: how to tie a guy up so he can’t get his hands free, how to protect against a blindside hit, the way to sneak in an extra shot or two before the refs break it up.
SHLD: You’re sort of his mentor, then.
BH: Definitely. I don’t have any kids, but he’s like my son now. I can’t wait to see him develop to his full fighting potential.
SHLD: Well, thanks for a fun and informative interview! Appreciate the time.
BH: Glad to do it! I’m just out here keeping the spirit of old-time hockey alive.