While the game of hockey continues to shift away from the physicality it used to be defined by, skewing instead towards speed, skill, and offensive creativity, there’s one name still proudly representing the old school.
Anaheim Ducks veteran Kevin Bieksa certainly isn’t the only NHLer open to dropping his mitts when things get heated, but the 36-year-old is arguably the best in the business when it comes to doing so. He proved as much this season, taking hockey fights to a new level by implementing Georges St. Pierre’s signature Superman punch:
The former Vancouver Canuck opened up about his thought process regarding the game-changing move during Saturday’s After Hours segment with Scott Oake and Louie DeBrusk.
“It’s something that I’ve implemented a while ago. It’s been at least 10–15 years that I’ve been trying to do it,” Bieksa told Oake and DeBrusk. “I kind of feel like you want to have that attack mentality in a fight. I like to go after a guy and hit him with the first shot.”
Much about the veteran’s fight style is intended to throw off the opposition, it seems.
“Not a lot of guys are comfortable with a square-off,” he said. “I think maybe the hockey fight mentality is you want to kind of feel the guy and grab him, control his arms and know where he’s punching from. But when you’re squared off there it’s not something that we really train for too much. I like to—I like that little space in between. I feel like it’s an opportunity.”
Though Bieksa has more than a few marquee bouts on his résumé, his greatest fight may be the one he’s waged in the name of mental health awareness, spurred by the death of his close friend, and former teammate, Rick Rypien.
“Talk about fighting, this guy was the toughest guy pound-for-pound that ever played,” Bieksa said. “He was probably only 185 pounds, probably 5-foot-10, five-foot-11, and he was as tough as they came. Glad to call him my friend. Obviously a very tough story but it’s one that I want to keep alive.
“People that are going through similar things need to know that there’s outlets to get help.”
Since Rypien’s passing in 2011, Bieksa has worked to raise awareness for mental health issues, including working with Mindcheck.ca, which helps British Columbians in need connect with mental health resources.
“To know that you have a small, small part in helping save a life is important,” Bieksa said. “We’re given a platform here with what we do and a lot of us are trying to use it as best we can.”
Watch Bieksa’s full interview with Oake and DeBrusk in the video at the top of this page