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Locked Out NHL Players Skate in the Beer Leagues

The most recent entry of an NHLer playing adult recreational hockey is Benoit Hogue, having fun in the beer-league in Long Island. He joins others including; Matt Cooke, Joey Kocur and Cliff Ronning, who are also featured in this ever expanding article.

NHL players are all locked out. They are not allowed to play or sign for any NHL team. They are, however, free to play for any other team in any other league that they choose. Some have gone to Europe and Russia, some will play in the minors, but many aren't playing anywhere. Or are they?

As Tom Cochrane once crooned "My boy's gonna play in the Beer League."

Benoit Hogue
Benoit Hogue, a former New York Islander whose name appears on the Stanley Cup, is just one of the boys. After 15 years in the NHL Benoit is now playing for the fun of it.

As reported in the Long Island Press, Benoit Hogue, 38, has joined with his friends on three different teams. One of them the Rinx Ratz of the no-hitting Midnight Hockey League. "I have a good time. I love to get on the ice. I love to play, " he says.

By all reports he's a class act on the ice, using his skill to make the others around him better, rather than taking over the game for himself.

Matt Cooke
In February of 2005, Matt Cooke played for the Adtek Rockets out of Burnaby 8 -Rinks in British Columbia. No points in a 5-2 loss but he did manage to get a body checking penalty. Called in as a spare to give the Adtek Rockets 12 skaters on the night, Matt Cooke was playing in a Div 3 game out in Burnaby, BC, Canada.

But as usual the stats only tell half the story. Apparently the difference in quality of hockey between him and the balance of the players was very noticebale, and as for his bodycheck, well, let's just say that when you are an NHLer playing the beer leagues, theres always one in the crowd that tries to prove themself against you.

Most people would say the open-ice hit was justified.

Joey Kocur
This 2004/05 lockout isn't the first one where NHL players ended up playing in the Beer-Leagues. The Al Dittrich recreational hockey team out of Pontiac, Michigan added Joey Kocur to their line-up during the NHL lockout in '92.

Later that season he joined another Detroit team, the Red Wings. Two years later he returned to the Al Dittrich dressing room and brought with him a token of appreciation - The Stanley Cup.

This isn't the only time an NHL'er has joined the beer leagues to keep in shape. Its just one of the rare instances that it has made the press.

Cliff Ronning
Another instance of note comes from Cliff Ronning. "I was skating with beer-league players -- guys who play the game for the love of it," he says. "I was paying $10 a night to go and skate -- it shows how much I still wanted to play. Playing with guys who were 40 and 50 and never got the chance to play in the NHL was a fun experience. You get back to what hockey really is, where you're playing for the love of the game." The 38-year-old Ronning, signed with the Islanders Jan 9, 2004 as a free agent after sitting out the first half of the season... playing beer league hockey.

Cliff was also seen playing pick-up hockey in Vancouver lately (February 2005) as a goalie. The impression he gave was, as a former professional he didn't want to take over the game, so he chose to play goal where he could let his competitive nature flourish.

About the Author

Glen Trainor
Communications Major, Online Publisher, and Adult Hockey Enthusiast. http://www.beerleaguehockey.com

Glen Trainor