Washington Galaxy D Bruce Hogaboom is reaching the closing stages of his career. Once one of the SHL’s most feared fighters and dogged defensemen, the __-year-old is relegated to reserve duty this season, appearing in only occasional games. This is the last year of Hogaboom’s contract, and he has strongly hinted that he plans to retire at season’s end.
That said, the man they call “Boom Boom” isn’t just sitting idle in the pressbox, watching the days pass by. He is active in team practices, serving as a mentor to the team’s young crop of blueliners. Specifically, Hogaboom is training his colleagues in the fine art of hockey fighting.
“Soembody’s going to have to answer the bell when I’m gone,” said Hogaboom after a recent practice. “These guys need to know how to scrap, how to tie your opponent up, how to make your punches count, when to bring a guy down and when to keep going. That part of the game’s not going away, and I want to make sure our guys are ready.”
One of Hogaboom’s top proteges is Grant Warriner, a promising young two-way defenseman who has a healthy appetite for throwing hands. “I’ve really liked the way he’s grown as a fighter,” said Hogaboom. “He’s not as aggressive as I am, he doesn’t go looking for fights. But when a guy wants to go with him, he’s up to the battle. He’s got fists like cinder blocks, and he knows how to put a hurt on a guy.”
Warriner showed off his fistic skills on Sunday in a game against the Boston Badgers. During the second period of the game, Warriner put a hard but legal hit on RW Rory Socarra. This angered D Brody “Bruiser” McCallan, who decided to avenge his teammate by challenge Warriner to a fight. The fight was spectacular, which both players trading heavy blows, but Warriner finally dropped McCallan to the deck with a pair of hard rights.
After the game, Hogaboom looked like a proud parent as he talked excitedly to reporters about the donnybrook. “Did you see the way the Bruiser went down like a sack of flour?” said the veteran defenseman. “That’s the way I dropped guys in my prime. Boom boom, down! Thing of beauty. He really laid the Pledge of Allegiance on him.”
That last remark puzzled the assembled reporters, who asked for an explanation. “I call it the Pledge of Allegiance, because we’re in DC. Because he came with liberty and justice for all.
“You know, Liberty and Justice,” the defenseman added, raising his two fists in succession. (It should be noted that Hogaboom named his own fists Randy and Matilda as a teenager.)
So does he consider Warriner his spiritual successor? “Well, first off, that’s not fair to War, ‘cause he’s way better on offense than I ever was,” Hogaboom said.
Just as importantly, he’s hoping that each of Washington’s blueliners will carry on the “Boom Boom” spirit. “A team should have more than one enforcer,” Hogaboom noted. “If there’s only one guy the other team needs to watch out for, that’s one thing. But when there are a half-dozen guys who can dole out the punishment, then teams know they’ve gotta watch out. They know better than to take a run at your stars, because they know they’ll pay the price if they do.”
The veteran stressed that he’s not trying to train a team of future goons. “You’ve got to play a complete defensive game, suppress shots, disrupt the other team’s flow, all that,” he said. “But we’ve got coaches to help them with that. No team has a fighting coach. Well, except for me, I guess.”