Since 1999 I’ve helped run a pickup hockey group at the Skating Club of Boston. We’re really not crazy about the rink there. The ice is intended for figure skaters so it’s soft and thus slow and quick to become choppy. There is no glass above the boards so if you shoot high enough you’d have to go fish for the puck under the stands. And since figure skaters generally stay in the middle of the ice, the edges are neglected and not well maintained; this is a problem if you try to “wrap the puck around the board”. Nevertheless, the location is great and we got to know the rink manager there quite well. He gives us extra ice time and at the end of the year we try to return the favor by collecting to give him a nice X-mas check.
Our group started off as a bunch of friends who played intramural hockey at MIT together. Over the years, people have come and gone, but I’m the only constant. Since I still put the roster together every week, year round, I’ve gotten to know a bit about the people who have played with us. I guess I could say I’m a sort of unofficial historian. Because of our academic origin, we’ve always had a strong contingent of people with advanced degrees. We’ve had several PhDs, MDs and lawyers. A few are current professors at local universities. But probably thanks to hockey’s grassroots appeal, I’m amazed at the diversity we’ve had. We’ve had cops, EMTs, firefighters, architects, engineers, scientists, pilots, artists, designers, writers, tech entrepreneurs, a maître d’hôtel, a restauranteur, a couple of finance guys, a bunch of software guys. Indie singers and DJs have leaped over the boards. Which is somewhat surprising because we obviously have no marketing department. It’s probably just word of mouth or pure serendipity that some of these guys end up playing with us. Over the years, there are some note-worthy names who have laced up the skates with us. So far as I remember here are some.
- The 1999 World Junior Ice Dancing champion
- A Boston Police superintendent and head of the Bureau of Investigative Services
- The platform director at Twitter
- The founder of Colorkinetics (now Philips)
- The former CEO of Akamai
- The current general manager of the Red Sox. He’s a quiet, good player who liked to be on defense. One of the complaints I remembered was that he didn’t get off the ice very much.
- The bassist for the punk band NOFX. He just showed up at the rink with a hockey bag. The other guys told him to wait to check with me whether he could play (we don’t want too many skaters). We had room so he stayed. Turned out he was in town for a concert and, being a hockey enthusiast and player, he brought his gears along. Apparently he does this on road trips. Not all of us have heard of NOFX, but those who did were quite excited when they found out. He was only an average player, but does possess first-class enthusiasm.