Hogaboom Teaches Tips of the Fighting Trade to Young Teammates

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.

Bruce Hogaboom

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.”

Galaxy Announcer Makes Racist Joke About Jones

Quebec Tigres D Ward Jones, one of the SHL’s few black players, has been subject to racist taunts and controversies throughout his career.  This week, a loose-minded racial quip directed at Jones by a Washington Galaxy broadcaster triggered a firestorm around the league.

Doug Jacobson

The incident occurred during the third period of Tuesday’s Quebec-Washington tilt, when Jones got into a fight with Galaxy D Bruce Hogaboom.  The two traded blows with abandon, leading Washington radio color man Doug Jacobson to exclaim delightedly that it was “a real heavyweight bout!”

Replied play-by-play announcer Scott Cox, “Yes, these two are really going at it.”

“They’ve both got heavy hands,” said Jacobson.  “Now, we know Boomer got so strong from picking turnips back on the farm growing up.”  This is a running joke on Jacobson’s part; Hogaboom is a native of a small town on the Canadian prairie, and the announcer frequently claims that he grew up on a turnip farm.

After that, however, Jacobson crossed the line.  “Now, we know Jones didn’t grow up on a turnip farm,” the announcer said.  (Jones is a native of Chicago.)  “So he must have picked it up on the street corner.”

Cox tried to move on, noting that the referees were stepping in to break up the fight.

But Jacobson continued, “It makes sense.  Jones is fast and he’s a good fighter.  Fighting, running from the cops… those are important skills where he’s from.”

Jacobson’s comments were already attracting negative attention on Twitter while the game was still going on.  After the game, a reporter read the remarks to Jones and asked for comment.

Ward Jones

“I wish I was surprised,” Jones replied.  “Unfortunately, this is what it’s come to in this country.  If you’re black and you’re from the inner city, obviously you must have been in a gang.  It’s racist garbage, but it’s where we are.  Ever since the 2016 election, people in America have felt free to just spout opinions like that.”

Initially, Jacobson defended the quips, saying they were “not racial in any way.  The joke was about the fact that [Jones is] from Chicago.  Everyone knows there’s a lot of violence and gangs in Chicago.  That’s what the joke was about.  Hogaboom didn’t really grow up on a turnip farm either, you know.”

But as time went on, the blowback continued to mount.  SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell denounced Jacobson’s remarks as “inappropriate and counter to the spirit of inclusiveness we strive for in this league.”  Galaxy GM Ace Adams issued an apology to Jones.  The radio station that carries Washington’s broadcasts also apologized, and then suspended Jacobson for three weeks.

After the suspension was announced, Jacobson finally expressed regret for his remarks.  “Although I didn’t mean to be offensive, I’ve now realized that I was,” the announcer said.  “I was wrong to say what I did, and to Ward and anyone else who was offended, I’m sorry.”

Jones responded to Jacobson’s apology with mixed feelings.  “Honestly, I believe him when he says he didn’t mean to be offensive,” Jones told reporters.  “The thing is, that’s the problem.  Not with him, really, but with our society.  The fact that you see a black guy from Chicago and your first thought is ‘gang member.’  Because the joke doesn’t work if you don’t expect the audience to make that association too.”

Bellmore’s Prank Backfires, Leads to Injury

Washington Galaxy C Harvey Bellmore is well known around the SHL as a prankster.  Virtually everyone who’s crossed path with Bellmore has a story about him, whether it’s his fascination with joy buzzers or the time he crashed a team Faith Day celebration to sermonize about his love of alcohol.  This week, one of his pranks backfired on him, and wound up causing himself to miss multiple games with injury.

Harvey Bellmore

The Galaxy were on the road this week, and they held a morning skate on Wednesday in Grand Rapids.  In the middle of the practice session, Bellmore stopped by the bench to get a drink of water.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw teammate Bruce Hogaboom skating by, so he stuck out his stick to try and trip the rugged defenseman.  Hogaboom stumbled, then lurched right into Bellmore and caused the center to flip over the boards.  Putting out his hand to break his fall, Bellmore sliced his right thumb open against the latch on the bench door.

Hogaboom, not realizing that Bellmore was hurt, flung his glove at his teammate and loudly (but cheerfully) cursed him out.  When Bellmore didn’t get up, Hogaboom and other Washington players came to his aid.

When Bellmore finally stood up, he said, “Guys, I think I’ve got a problem.”  Blood was pouring from his thumb and dripping on the ice and down his sweater.  Even then, his teammates weren’t convinced that Bellmore wasn’t trying to prank them.

“My first thought,” said LW Charlie Brooks, “was that he’d gotten one of those fake blood things they use in the movies, and he was trying to trick us into thinking he was bleeding to death.  It’s the kind of thing he would do.”

They ultimately realized that he wasn’t joking, and helped him off the ice and to the trainer’s table.  Bellmore ultimately needed several stitches to close the gash in his thumb.

“I’ve punked a lot of guys in my career, but this is the first time I ever punked myself,” said Bellmore, holding up his bandaged thumb.  “I’ll never try to trip Boom Boom again.  That’s like throwing yourself in front of a Mack truck.  I’m probably lucky I didn’t break every bone in my body.”

Washington coach Peter James was not impressed with Bellmore’s stunt.  “I’ve aged about 10 years since I took this job, and at least 90% of that is because of Harvey Bellmore,” James grumbled to reporters.  “Who thinks it’s a good idea to deliberately trip your own teammate during practice?  Only Bellmore.  I’ve met kindergartners who were more mature than him.”

As punishment for the prank, James said Bellmore would be suspended for three games.  The center said that was fine with him, since “I can’t really grip my stick right now anyway.”

Interview of the Week: Bruce Hogaboom

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 “Boom Boom” Hogaboom

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.