David M Singer
Sep 11, 2002
Dennis Bonvie is a player of heart. He brings whatever he can to whichever team he's on at the time. His work ethic is not questioned. Overall, he seems like a good natured Canadian kid (we're all kids aren't we?) and most likely because of the directions his career has taken, he's still very down to earth. His attitude about the game is still "I play a game for a living". He knows he's lucky to be doing this and no fan can ask any more then that.
I was able to catch up with Dennis Bonvie and do a Q & A with him. Some of the questions come from myself and the flow of the conversation, but most come from this site's members. I was sent many questions, many were duplicates. Sorry if I didn't get to ask yours, but Dennis is leaving for Ottawa tomorrow, and I didn't want to take up too much of his time.
Singer: First off, how'd you get started in hockey?
Bonvie: When I was 5 I asked my dad if I could go out and skate. He gave me the opportunity and I'm thankful he did.
Singer: How'd your role as an enforcer develop?
Bonvie: I ended up playing triple-A midget and my second year midget I wound up playing junior. I ended up getting in a scrap and did well and continued from there. I'm sure if I got my butt kicked off the ice I probably wouldn't have kept doing it, but I did well and continued to progress and do well. I soon realized this was going to be my role, I wasn't going to go out and score 50 goals.
Singer: What do you think you're going to do when you're finished with the game?
Bonvie: I don't know, it's a question that's always going through my mind, and I'm sure everyone else's mind. I would like to stay within hockey in some capacity though.
Singer: Is it hard for players like you to live off of a two-way contract? Meaning, you don't really know what's coming to you.
Bonvie: At times you can look at it that way. You can always think "I wish I had a 3-year deal, that was 1-way", but that's not really the case anymore. You get used to it. I'm going into my 10th year pro and I get a chance to go out and play in the NHL and AHL and play the game I love and make a little bit of money doing it. I look at it in a positive way and not negative.
Singer: After seasons of flip-flopping leagues, you scored your first NHL points last season. Was it worth the wait and what'd it mean to you?
Bonvie: Yeah, it was great, I wish I did it my first game. I was fortunate in Boston that Robbie Ftorek game me a chance to go out and play every night. I wound up getting 4 minutes a game, 5 minutes a game playing mostly with guys like PJ Stock and Jamie Rivers and we got along well and things just kind of clicked.
Singer: How has the game changed since you've started playing?
Bonvie: Well, teams try and add more skill, then they try and get bigger, stronger and tougher. It cycles like that. It's pretty much the same game and I hope it stays that way.
Singer: Baseball has had some controversy over this past year, let's touch on that a bit and how it can relate to the NHL. After the new agreement is made in baseball, the NHL will be the only league that doesn't test for steroids. Do you think the NHL has a steroids problem and do you think the NHL should test for it?
Bonvie: No, I don't think there's a steroids problem. If there is, I don't know about it. It's not my business. I'm sure there's the odd guy that is, as every sport has. I definitely don't think there's a problem though. Should they check for it? Sure, but it's not my decision. I don't think guys should do that to themselves, but that's just my opinion. I see how come guys could have a lot of heart, but not be strong enough and think that's how they could make it. I go out and battle for what I can get, and I know I'm not going to use them.
Singer: Do you think some players are worried about when the CBA expires in a couple of years?
Bonvie: I'm sure there are, but you can't worry about this stuff. That's decisions that go on behind close doors. I'm a firm believer that stuff should be dealt with progressively as we get there. Not a week before, but to sit here and worry about it, you're wasting your time since it's something that's primarily out of your control for the most part. You go and play and enjoy the game the way it is and I'm sure it'll work itself out.
Singer: Is there anything specific you do to train?
Bonvie: I ride the bike a lot. Biking is a big part of it. The quicker I am, the better I am as a player. I'm 6', not 6'5" and I know I'm not getting there. I need to be as strong, if not stronger, so I try and put some good weight up.
Singer: What's the biggest difference between the guys in the A and the N?
Bonvie: It's a little bit of both size and ability. A good combination of both. Size is a big thing, when you're 6'5" and you can play, there's a spot for you somewhere. Not to take anything away from the others, because there's a lot of tough guys in the American Hockey League.
Singer: Is there anything different you do with the bigger guys?
Bonvie: You do different stuff with everybody. You try and know their strong points: how they hit and when they hit, if they throw both hands and maybe where they're a little bit susceptible to getting hit. It varies from guy to guy.
Singer: Do you look at the lineup card before the game and think of who you might go with and what they do?
Bonvie: You'd be a fool to say you didn't. I don't try and let it contain my mind for most of the day, but if it happens, it happens. I like to go in, joke around, have lots of fun in the room. You can't let it contain you. I know 2 or 3 guys who it might happen with, and if it does I might have a gameplan in my head.
Singer: You've played with many guys, some who have the same role as you. Any mentoring from or to anyone?
Bonvie: When I was in Edmonton, I played a couple of years with Georges Laraque after I had 4 or 5 years under my belt. I tried to help him out, but he's a big, strong kid and he's done well for himself (you can hear a smile from him while saying that one). I've played with a lot of guys and if you see something they're not working that hard on that they should or if you notice something they do that you don't; you try and take the good out of it and throw the bad away. If I play on your team, I'm going to be your buddy and try and help you just like you help me. Be a great team person, and that's what I try and do.
Singer: When going to a new team, like you're doing now, do you look at the roster and say "I've met up with this guy before" or does it not even matter?
Bonvie: I don't go and carry stuff over. For the most part, they're all good guys. You don't meet too many bad guys in the game, and the bad guys get weeded out eventually anyways. You both know what you have to do. You try and go in and find some comradery and have some fun with them.
Singer: You're going to Ottawa now. Ever meet up with Chris Neil?
Bonvie: No, he played a couple of years in the IHL and I haven't really played against him much.
Singer: Any guys stick out as rivals, or just guys you always seem to go with when you play against them?
Bonvie: In juniors (Dennis was with North-Bay), Peterborough had Matt Johnson. We fought a couple times then and a couple of times pro. I don't think that really carries over. He's trying to do his job, I'm trying to do mine. I can't really say I've got a real rivalry with anybody or I want to get anybody.
Singer: You've been on a few teams now. What rivalries have been the best? What's lived up to the hype?
Bonvie: We've had some playoff games in the minors that lived up to the hype. When I was with Hamilton we played St. John's, and Rochester was always a battle. This year Boston-Montreal will be a good one. With Boston, last year Florida had a tough team and we had some good ones against them too. The game is really getting away from that a lot, it's not really like that anymore. I think tough guys contain that a lot of the time too.
Singer: Do you think a good idea would be for the NHL to go to an unbalanced schedule to maybe create more rivalries and more emotion? Not necessarily in a fighting sense, but just overall tone of the games. (note: this is not an NHL proposal, it's mine.)
Bonvie: I think that's an idea. To say it'll work, I don't know. To keep playing the same team, you may get tired of it. But if you play a team 4, 5, 6 times, you can create something I'm sure. In terms of 30 teams, it may be hard to get that.
Singer: Senators haven't been known for their toughness. Last year they beefed up a little, this year a little more. Still, with the style of play they're known for, do you think about limited games and ice time?
Bonvie: No, you can't let yourself worry about that stuff. I'm just going to go in and do what Dennis Bonvie does best and go up on the wing and hit everything and crash and bang and fight if need be and let's keep our fingers crossed that they like it and I earn a spot. I won't sit here and worry about it, that'd be a waste of time as it's not my decision. The only thing I can do is take care of what I do and that's going out on the ice and muck it out and grind and scrap.
Singer: Know what number you'll be wearing?
Bonvie: 27 I think.
Singer: What city have you enjoyed being in?
Bonvie: I really enjoyed my time last year in Boston. The team was close knit and many lived downtown. You'd get together and have some dinners. The team was really close though, and that's everything. Robbie Ftorek was good to me and my linemates and I got along, so everything went hand-in-hand there. I had 5 years in Edmonton that were good. I was in Chicago for 4 months where Dougie Gilmour and Bobby Probert were really good to me. My two years in Pittsburgh were fun too.
Singer: Your biggest win and your biggest loss?
Bonvie: Well, fighting Bob Probert got me started. I didn't win by any means, but it was a good fight. That got me on the board though. There are a couple of losses I'd love to have back. Every time you drop the gloves you roll the dice. I'm sure you look back at Ray and Richardson, I'd love those back. I had them and all of the sudden, boom, things happen and you're not on the winning side of it. For me to win is to come back and do it all again. Those are the guys I respect more then ever, the guys that continually show up and they may not be winning every fight, but they're doing it for the team and that's all that matters.
Singer: Who are currently some of the top toughest guys in the league?
Bonvie: Laraque, Donald Brashear, Sandy McCarthy are all tough. Tie Domi, Matt Johnson. You can go to every team and they got a couple of guys that can get it done. Then there's some smaller guys that fight them all and hang in there and do really well for themselves.
Singer: The instigator rule. Opinions? Thoughts?
Bonvie: I think I'd like to see it go...
Singer: Do you think it prohibits a guy from doing his job better?
Bonvie: Well, obviously when you get 2 or 3 and get a suspension. I don't think jumping is the answer, you don't jump a guy, you just square off and if you go at it, you go at it. Sometimes the instigator rule does hamper and sometimes it's there for a good reason. I think if you take it out it'll certainly keep the respect around the game, without a doubt; and respect is a big thing.
Singer: Last thoughts: a hobby outside of hobby?
Bonvie: Playing some golf and working out in the offseason.
Singer: Favorite beer? (this was sent in by quite a few of you, what a bunch of drunks we are)
Bonvie: Being from Nova Scotia, I got to go with Keith's. Alexander Keith's (here's a link for you who are wondering what it is).
That's it. I thanked Dennis for his time and let him go back to packing. He's got a lot of fans here on hockeyfights.com and whatever city he plays for. He probably gets these questions all the time and from many people he meets, but he was still great about it all. Dennis, from all your fans, good luck with the upcoming season.
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