Lee Chin remains fascinated by the culture of ice-hockey fights

The Wexford star features in The Toughest Trade on Friday evening

BY Daniel Kelly 14:45 Thursday 9 March 2017, 14:45 9 Mar 2017

Image: AIB

Lee Chin is back on Irish soil, after briefly swapping the fields of Wexford town, for the ice of Vancouver.

The Wexford hurler has taken part in AIB's The Toughest Trade where he joined NHL giants, Vancouver Giants for a week. Former goalkeeper Alex Auld swapped codes with the 24-year-old and spent a week with Faythe Harriers.

Compared to previous hurling participants Jackie Tyrrell and Brendan Maher, Chin has by far the toughest transition in changing sports. While Tyrrell and Maher played baseball and hurling respectively, they had the advantage of playing on turf.

"Brendan and Jackie would be well used to planting their feet and swinging a stick", Chin admitted ahead of Friday's episode. "They played in very technical sports. You saw how hard and fast they threw balls at Jackie, at the same with Brendan in the cricket. I had to move my feet a lot in a different way. I had a longer stick and was in pads. I was on ice. It was the most difficult of the lot of them."

One of ice-hockey's most notorious elements is the fights the regularly take place on the ice. Chin was no different to other fans admitting he was fascinated by how they come about.

"I could never understand how this was allowed in a sport to such brutality", Chin revealed. "Out of nowhere it comes around and you wonder 'what was that for?'"

"When I was over there I had a massive interest in it and asking lads about it. Erik Gudbranson told me about it, and he’s a massive fan of it because he loves fighting himself. He expressed to me on more than one occasion that he loves fighting. He wasn’t shy about telling me that he was good at it too (laughs)."

"I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a rule to avoid it. He was telling me that the players police the rule. It’s in the players’ control. If one player is being dirty on the ice to another, he has to pay for his actions. That’s where the fighting comes in. They won’t get rid of the rule, because if they do, the game will get filthier. Weaker guys who just want to skate, may get bullied on the ice. Lads don’t want to be too sneaky, otherwise they will get a puck in the mouth for themselves."

Despite only spending a week with the Canadian team, the forward admitted that he gained a strong appreciation for the sport and may even travel north to see the Belfast Giants in action. The Giants are the only professional ice-hockey team on the island of Ireland.

Erik Gudbranson (right) played with Chin in Vancouver. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

"I think I came home with a massive interest level. I was saying to some of the crew coming home that it's definitely something that I'm going to be interested in."

"It got so enjoyable towards the end of the week. I just couldn't wait to put on the skates. The start of the week was more of an effort. I was thinking, 'I can't do this.' Then you got the sessions in and you started to be able to control yourself more on the ice. It just got so much more enjoyable. It was really therapeutic to down the ice because there was less of a thought process. It's definitely something I will try to stay in touch with."

"There's a guy back home with my club who played ice-hockey in Canada. He's living in Ireland now. He plays with a team and they travel to Belfast once or twice a month to play. I'll be getting in touch with him to see if he'll bring me along."

You can see how he copes in Vancouver, on Friday night on RTE 2 at 10.35pm.

All previous episodes of The Toughest Trade are free to view on AIB’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/aib For exclusive content and behind the scenes action from The Toughest Trade follow AIB GAA on Twitter and Instagram @AIB_GAA and facebook.com/AIBGAA.

Off The Ball


The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week