This week’s interview is with Seattle Sailors RW Vince Mango.
SHL Digest: We’re here today with one of the SHL’s top scorers, Vince Mango. Vince, thanks for speaking with us.
Vince Mango: Sure thing!
SHLD: A lot of the players we talk to have always dreamed of being hockey players ever since they were little kids. Was that the case for you?
VM: No, to be honest. I’m from Florida, and hockey wasn’t a big thing down there. What I really loved was food.
SHLD: Cooking food, or eating it?
VM: Both! I had one of those Fisher-Price kitchens when I was little, and I used to pretend I had my own Food Network show.
SHLD: Did you have a favorite Food Network star?
VM: I loved Emeril [Lagasse]. He was a magnetic personality, with all his catchphrases – “Bam!” and “Pork fat rules” and all that – and I loved the way he cooked in front of a lot of a live audience. My pretend cooking shows were always in front of an audience. I’d flip a pancake or pull a cake out of the oven, and imagine the crowd going wild.
SHLD: That was good practice for being a pro athlete, in a way.
VM: Yeah, I guess I’ve always been a ham. I’m addicted to the spotlight.
SHLD: So how did a kid from Florida who loved cooking get into hockey?
VM: Well, my dad was an ad executive, and when I was 9, he got a job in Toronto. All the kids in my new neighborhood played hockey, so I learned to play too. And I was good enough that the local coaches started taking notice. It went from there.
SHLD: All the way to the SHL! Not bad at all. You’ve been called one of the best pure goal scorers in the league. If you hadn’t gotten hurt last season, you might have won the scoring title.
VM: I’m confident I would have. I was on a roll, and with an extra 10 games, I could have gotten to 50 [goals].
SHLD: On the flip side, you’ve been criticized as a one-dimensional player, someone who is only interested in scoring and doesn’t focus on other aspects of the game. How do you respond to those critics?
VM: I think I get a bit of a bad rap; a lot of great scorers get tagged as being one-way players. But I do care more about my scoring; I’m not gonna lie about that. But think about it: what really gets the fans excited, gets them on their feet? A goal! It’s not a big check or a nice play along the boards. Goals are what makes hockey fun! And I want to do my part.
SHLD: You also attracted some controversy last season, when you took a selfie on-ice to celebrate a hat trick. Looking back on that incident, do you think you did the right thing?
VM: I got a flak about that. It’s almost like it’s a crime in this sport to have a personality. The old guard scowled and wagged their fingers at me because I was having too much fun. Now look, I know some of the guys on Michigan thought I was showing them up, and I wasn’t trying to. But when a young guy tries to bring some life and fun into the game, that’s no reason to stomp it out.
SHLD: Let’s talk about your Sailors. You and some of the other players talked about being playoff contenders this season, but you’ve struggled to get traction. Do you think you’ll be able to turn things around?
VM: We’re definitely not where we want to be. We need to do a better job keeping the puck out of our net. But the good thing is, nobody’s taken charge of that second spot yet. So if we can tighten that up, we’ll be right there.
SHLD: One final question: Do you still like to cook?
VM: Oh, yeah! Japanese cuisine is my favorite, but I cook all different kind of things. And I’m still holding onto my dream of getting on the Food Network!
SHLD: Well, thank you for an interesting interview, Vince. Good luck the rest of the season!
VM: If anyone out there knows someone who can get me on the Food Network, call me!