This week’s interview is with Hamilton Pistols D Hercules Mulligan.
SHL Digest: We’re here with one of the SHL’s rising young stars on the blueline, Hercules Mulligan. Hercules, thanks for speaking with us.
Hercules Mulligan: It’s still a little crazy to think that someone wants to interview me. I never thought I’d be in this position.
SHLD: Well, let’s start with the obvious question: How did you get a nickname like “Hercules”?
HM: I’ve always been strong for my size, even when I was a little kid. I used to pick up cinder blocks and drag them around the yard. And the Disney movie came out when I was little, so I guess it was a natural fit. The name stuck, and that’s what everyone’s called me ever since.
SHLD: With a nickname like that, you sure had a lot to live up to.
HM: I guess so. Honestly, though, I never saw myself as a big-time athlete. My father owned a tailoring shop, and I figured that I’d go to work for him and someday take over the shop.
SHLD: So how did you wind up becoming an athlete?
HM: Well, once I got into middle school, the hockey coaches took one look at me and said, ‘We’ve got to get that boy on the ice.’ I was built like a battering ram, and they saw a natural enforcer.
SHLD: And did you take to it right away?
HM: No way! Those first couple years were miserable. I barely knew how to skate, and I was playing against guys who’d been playing pond hockey since they could walk. I was a terrible puck handler, and I couldn’t shoot at all. I could fight, sure, but that was it. It seemed like I ended every practice black and blue. I was ready to quit.
SHLD: Why didn’t you?
HM: That was thanks to Coach Rasmussen. He saw me struggling, and he took me aside after practice one day. He said, “Mulligan, I think you can be a player if you want it bad enough. So let me tell you the secret about hockey: it’s all about pain. If you can withstand pain, survive and overcome it, you’ll succeed. Can you overcome the pain?”
SHLD: That’s a pretty rare message to give a kid.
HM: It was the best thing he could possibly have said. It unlocked everything for me. I started working harder, staying after practice. I became a glutton for punishment. I took everything they could throw at me and asked for more. And sure enough, over time, I got better. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for what Coach Rasmussen taught me.
SHLD: Now that you’ve made it all the way to the pros, do you still believe that hockey is about pain?
HM: More than ever. You look at the teams that win championships, they’re the teams that are willing to work harder, block the extra shots, finish their checks. The playoffs are all about overcoming pain.
SHLD: Your Pistols are widely considered to be a championship-caliber team. Do you think they’ve got what it takes to overcome the pain?
HM: Last season was a good education for us. We started off so hot so quickly that we didn’t know what happened. It was a great ride, and we felt like we were unstoppable. But Quebec, man, they’re a tough team. They know all about surviving pain, and dishing it out too. On paper, we were more talented. But they’re a bunch of grinders, and they wore us down.
SHLD: If you face the Tigres in the playoffs again this year, will you be ready?
HM: I think so. We know what we need to do.
SHLD: Well, Hercules, thanks for your time and a very interesting interview.
HM: I enjoyed it.