In some odd news skate legend, Mike Vallely, has announced he will take a leap into professional hockey as a member of the Danbury (CT) Whalers. As far as off the skateboard activities go, Mike has been all over the place lately. He was in the hit movie the Hangover, he is the guy that tosses the hungover crew their tuxes from the van at the end. He was also one of the bad guys in the movie Paul Blart Mall Cop.
We’ve seen him act, now we’ll be able to see how he handles on the ice. Not only will he be the professional skateboarder to become a professional hockey player, he is also believed to be the oldest rookie in professional hockey ever. I actually sat in on a conference call today between Mike and the coach and CEO of the Whalers. It was pretty interesting here’s some of the things that were discussed:
Here’s some more info:
WHO: Mike Vallely, professional skateboarder and action sports star, has signed on to play professional hockey for the Danbury (CT) Whalers. The team plays in the new Federal Hockey League (FHL). An accomplished skater who competed in the National Hockey League’s Celebrity All-Star Game at The Staples Center in 2002, Vallely is the first professional board sport athlete to pursue a traditional team sport on a competitive level. He is also believed to be the oldest rookie, at age 40, to seek a roster spot in professional hockey.
What role did hockey play in your life growing up?
Well I Grew up in New Jersey and I grew up a New York Rangers fan I would go to the games at Madison Square Garden with my father and it was just a great time to be a hockey fan great time to be a kid. I always wanted to play hockey. I loved watching it on TV and I loved going to the games. I remember the only piece of hockey equipment I had was a Brian Trottier street hockey stick. It seems like our family couldn’t afford anything more then that. Ice hockey was out of the question when I was a youngster. And so going to the games and seeing some of my favorite players like Ron Duguay, Barry Beck, Nick Fotiu, these guys were my favorites when I was a kid. But the thing that really sparked my intrest when I was a kid was when the US won the gold medal… in 1980. That was probably the biggest thing. I’ve followed hockey my whole life. I started skateboarding when I was 14 and that was definitely a life-changing experience and set me on a different path, but hockey is something I always followed.
When I moved out to California in the late 80′s my interest in hockey was reborn with Wayne Greztky coming to town and playing for the Kings. I got season tickets at the time at the Great Western Forum.Then, at the age of 19 or 20 I finally could afford a pair of skates, ice time and my own equipment. I started playing ice hockey at that time.
What was your commitment level to hockey in the past?
It’s kind of comes in waves. It has never been as consistent as I would have liked because, obviously, skateboarding is what I do as a career. Its very consuming. I mean, I travel the world year after year after year.
Do you feel any pressure playing professional hockey now?
Yea. I’m going to feel the pressure. I feel it now. I mean, I want to come in and I want to earn my keep and I want to earn the respect of my teammates. I don’t plan on just walking into the room and having some guarantee. It’s not guaranteed. I have been around the hockey world enough to know what the locker room environment is like and what it’s like to be a part of a team. I am just going to do my best to earn my keep. As far as my level of hockey, I make the time for it. I have the luxury of creating my own schedule and my own itinerary because my skateboard career is not one that follows a tour. I am not much of a competitive skater. I don’t go to the X Games and these types of events, so I have the luxury during the hockey season to decide when I want to travel and where I want to be.
Do you see yourself as an enforcer?
Well I don’t know about the word “enforcer.” Like I said, I plan on earning my keep. Hockey is an intense, aggressive, physical sport and we know that fighting is a part of it. I don’t plan on going to camp and getting into a bunch of fights. I am going to defer to my coach and do what I have to do and what’s required of me from moment to moment. I plan on being a team player and doing whatever is required.
Will you talk about the Anaheim Ducks incident?
At the time, the actions I took were a moral imperative. Beyond that, It is what it is. I was excited the city dropped the charges. It was not something I wanted to be a part of or that Scott (Niedermayer) wanted to be a part of. It kind of sucks that we are connected in that way but I don’t know that I would have done anything different. I make no apologies for what I did.
When does training camp start and do you think this will be enough time to really push hard before arriving?
Training camp starts in late October. Yes, I think that gives me enough time to prepare. I will be totally focused with on and off ice training from mid-August until I arrive in Danbury for camp. It will be an intense and all-consuming period of time but I absolutely plan on showing up in great shape – ready to go – and to prove that I can hang in that environment.
Have you received any pre-camp advice from friends up in the pros?
George Parros and Luc Robitaille both emailed me wishing me well. My childhood hero, Nick Fotiu, called me up a few weeks back and did the same. I will definitely be working with and getting advice from friends in pro hockey as this thing moves along. But I also realize it all really just comes down to me and my level of commitment and dedication and how hard I’m willing to work to make this a reality.