Following the game last night at the Coventry Skydome, I managed to catch up with Sheffield Steelers enforcer and all round great guy, Zack Fitzgerald for a quick chat before they headed off home.
In what turned out to be a very physical game for both teams, with an astonishing 64 minutes worth of penalties, it seemed even more poignant to get his thoughts on his role within the Steel City’s side and the changing view of enforcers across a wider audience following the highly public story of John Scott and his participation in this years NHL All-Star Game.
How was the game for you? I can imagine it sucked for you, it sucked for us watching.
Yeah, no. It’s never fun to lose. Especially two in a row. We try to take pride in not losing two in a row. Unfortunately these guys have our number somehow, so…
I think a lot of teams have the bogey team, just that one team you just can’t seem to beat.
Yeah, I don’t know what it is. You got to give a lot of credit to their goalie though. He’s good. He’s big and he takes away all of our shots, takes away all our rebounds and he’s good and you got to give him credit.
And how are you guys coping without Marek [Pinc]?
Brad’s doing really well and he’s standing in there and he’s playing like, just like any other goalie we’ve had and he’s doing really well. He won us that shoot-out up in Dundee there a week or so ago and unfortunately the shoot-out didn’t work out for us last night but I mean other than that he’s making big saves when needed and a couple go in here and there but that’s happened to most of our goalies this year so you can’t really fault him at all.
Definitely not, he’s really picked up the slack where it’s needed and as a fan I’m super proud of the job he’s doing because no one expected that to happen to Marek and it seemed like a freak accident, from what I’ve seen in pictures and things.
I didn’t even see it, only the aftermath. His arm got like twisted around or something.
[I of course asked about the injury but Zack was unable to disclose any information.]
One of the things I really wanted to ask you was have you seen John Scott’s piece? [in Player’s Tribune] And as the enforcer for Sheffield, how do you think that it changes the perception of your role within the team based on what he’s written? A lot of people see the enforcer in a certain way, not always positively. Do you think this will change that?
I think so. I think it gives a guy a lot more credit, you know. I believe there was three different votes, I think there was the fans, the players and something like that but when you see your own team mates voting for you as well as the fans and things, you know you’re making an impact and you’re doing positive things and yeah you might not score all the goals and you might not get the credit for making all the big saves and the big goals and stuff like that but you’re doing a job and you’re working hard at it and it’s a job that’s uncelebrated I guess.
A bit of a thankless job?
I guess I wouldn’t say it’s 100% thankless because some guys do say thanks and they do appreciate the backup and appreciate the excitement, stuff like that. So at the same time I’d say it’s more like the unsung hero kinda deal. A lot of people enjoy the fights and they love that stuff and some people go just for that stuff.
I think in the UK especially, that Ice Hockey goes hand in hand with the fights. If someone knows nothing of the sport they know about the fighting.
So I think the whole deal with John Scott, I think it’s great that they’ve figured it out to let him go and he gets a standing ovation.
That was incredible, I was watching it and the crowd’s reaction to him was amazing.
That goes to show you a lot, you know. That’s huge. Unbelievable.
I mean I didn’t really know who he was before all of this and now everyone knows his name and I think it goes a long way to show that yeah these guys are big and they fight but there’s more to them than that.
Yeah, he’s a good team player, you know. I’ve fought him before as well. I was coming about 5 inches shorter than him. He’s a huge guy. It’s great to see the impact he’s made. Unfortunately there’s some negative stuff coming out of it but for the most part it’s positive and everyone is behind him. Like everybody. So it’s great.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come and chat with me. Have a safe trip home.
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