'I wouldn't do this with Davy': Lee Chin stunned by ice-hockey drinking culture

Wexford hurling star Lee Chin has admitted that he was floored by the apparent 'drinking culture' that exists in professional ice-hockey, writes Paul Keane.

The star of Davy Fitzgerald's resurgent Model County setup spent a week with pro side the Vancouver Canucks recently as part of the AIB commissioned 'The Toughest Trade' documentary series.

The show will air tomorrow evening on RTE 2 TV at 10.35pm and will chronicle the 24-year-old's attempts to learn the game in a brief period of time with the National Hockey League club.

Chin, who had a stint with League of Ireland side Wexford Youths last autumn, said it was an eyeopening experience, revealing that players routinely drank alcohol before games and thought nothing of it.

"The drinking culture that they had there, I couldn't believe it," said Chin. "They were lowering pints the day before a game, I couldn't believe it.

"They have this thing every year called the luncheon and I was invited to it. I had lunch there with them all and Erik Gudbranson (player) was sitting across from me with one of his team-mates and I had a guy here beside me that trained me during the week.

"Erik was injured but the other guys, the two of them ordered two pints of Heineken or something. I had a glass of water in front of me. I was thinking, 'these lads are playing tomorrow, could the two of them be injured?' I had to ask what's the story? I just asked, 'are you playing tomorrow?' He says, 'I am, yeah'. He looked at me as if, you know, 'yeah, of course'.

"I was like, 'And you're having a pint, yeah?' He was 'yeah', looked at me as if, 'what's the big deal? what's the problem?' Managers, coaches and everyone was sitting around and I was thinking, 'I wouldn't do this with Davy, I'll tell you that!'

Chin attended one game while there which included two punch ups which, he claimed, were only punished with brief periods in a sin-bin.

"I picked a lot of brains, asked a lot of lads, what was the fighting about?" he said. "What fascinated me was the player power, the whole situation that allows players to throw off the gloves and fight. I thought at first that this was so barbaric, that it was allowed to go on in sport, it's crazy like.

"The players were able to explain, and I was so intrigued by it and the reasoning behind it, that literally the players police that ruling and there's nothing in the rule book to say you can't do it.

"It's there for the players to protect them. If a guy is acting the maggot with another player on the ice, he has to pay for it and that's the way it's done."


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