Updated: Feb 24
Simple Advice, but not easily followed.
I have a friend, let’s call him Fred, to protect his identity (And no, it wasn’t me). We competed in an outdoor hockey tournament in St. Ignace, Michigan, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Let’s just say our team didn’t have the best results that year. As has become custom, we venture back to the local bar/restaurant (Driftwood) and partake in a few beverages.
We notice an older man playing pool with a lady friend, and he meanders over to the booth we have all huddled around. In a very polite manner, the gentleman asks us, “How did you do out there?”. Fred, who has had his fair share of beverages, tells the man the following,” (You buy us a round of drinks, and we will tell you how we did!). The gentleman responded by saying he meant no disrespect, and he just wanted to ask how we did.
Fred upped it a notch and stated if the man really wanted to know, he would let Fred drink a “body shot” off his lady friend. Now — — If this had gone any further, we would have been looking at an impossible situation from which Fred would not have come back. I do not know precisely how I realized who our curious pool player was, but his first name, “Craig,” was mentioned. From this, I quickly deduced he was former NHL hockey player Craig Coxe.
I immediately sprung from my seat once I learned who this individual was because I was on cloud nine. First, I loved that an ex-NHLer was interested in how we did out on the sheet of ice in Moran Bay. Second, this player was a renowned heavyweight in the old NHL (more below). Third, Fred was a dead man if I hadn’t gotten up when I did.
The first thing I did was shake the man’s hand, and I immediately noticed how huge they were. You could tell he was a battle-scarred hockey player. I let him know we had all been drinking, and we didn’t play particularly well that day. From there, I kept riddling him with questions about his experiences, but more importantly, I wanted to know why he was in St. Ignace, of all places. It turned out he had met his wife in Michigan and has lived there ever since.
A little bit on Craig Coxe:
He played in 235 NHL games for four different teams (Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, St Louis Blues, and the San Jose Sharks
Known as an enforcer with over 713 penalty minutes.
His fights with Bob Probert (popular Detroit Red Wing Player) were legendary
He is a Michigan native and still resides in the city of Cheboygan (located in the lower peninsula
Once he realized the scope of the situation, Fred immediately did everything in his power to backpedal his previous remarks. I believe he even offered to “buy the rounds.”
The moral of the story is to treat everyone with respect because you just never know who you may come across.
Added note: Craig Coxe had to be one of the most engaging and kind individuals I have ever met. I asked him how his years in hockey had treated his body. To say he was a little battered was an understatement. His knees had seen better days, but he advised me to drink plenty of cherry juice. He let me know this did wonders for his knees and joints. Thanks for the advice, Craig; I hope our paths cross again in the future.
For those of you interested in one of the heavyweight battles, take a look at this: