Wanna go? Hockey player Matthew Barnaby will take on anyone, anytime – Cooldown – Interview

Allan Donnelly

What makes a good “enforcer”? In the National Hockey League, it takes a good right or left hand and a solid chin, for starters, not to mention a set of brass ones that won’t shrivel when you’re called upon. We caught up with one of the NHL’s smaller tough guys, 6-foot, 190-pound Matthew Barnaby of the New York Rangers, and found out there’s more to dropping the gloves than just, well, dropping the gloves.

Q: You give up anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds against some guys; how tough is it for you to stand toe-to-toe with them?

A: It’s tough, but a lot of it is mental. A lot of it is the way you approach a fight, and your stamina has to be very good. That’s why I work out hard in the off-season. The longer the fight goes, the more chance I have of winning it. A bigger guy’s gonna get tired out.

Q: Do you remember your first hockey fight?

A: My first one was in junior [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League]. We didn’t have masks on or anything. I was 146 pounds and the guy I fought was probably 205. It didn’t go well. I took a lot of punches and I didn’t stand up too long. But I think by getting beat up my first couple years in junior, I learned how to take a punch and how to get out of the way of a couple of big ones.

Q: When you square off with somebody, what’s the first thing you do to gain an advantage?

A: You have to know your opponent: whether he’s a righty or a lefty, whether he throws straight punches, or if he’s a guy that holds on. Second, look for an opening. What’s the best way to attack him as a fighter? Hold on a bit, take a few punches, or try to knock him out with the first couple punches?

Q: Do you do anything in terms of boxing or martial arts training?

A: This summer was the first time I actually trained a bit in boxing, and I found it helped just learning how to punch, and with conditioning.

Q: How else do you train?

A: We do some training for fighting with weights, doing 30-second intervals in the summer, just going a minute on, a minute rest, a minute on, and just using the punching motion. It gets you stronger, your shoulders stronger, and builds up stamina.

Q: Who’s the toughest guy you’ve ever squared off against?

A: Stu Grimson. He was with the L.A. Kings and now the Nashville Predators. He doesn’t get nervous when he fights a guy my size, and he’s fought so many different guys. Being 6’5″, 245, 250 is gonna help.

Q: How do you feel knowing you could be called on to drop the gloves at any minute?

A: It’s not easy job to do. Fortunately, for myself, I’m not a player that is expected to just go out there and fight. I’m expected to play a bunch of minutes in the game, so I think that makes it easier for me. But it is tough to know that you have to go out and fight and maybe change the momentum of the game with a fight. So to sit there on the bench and know that your time might be coming, it’s almost like being a kid at school, waiting for that 3 o’clock fight.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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