Mike V Eyes Pro Hockey at 40
Earlier today, famed pro-skateboarder Mike Vallely (“Mike V”) held a press conference announcing he has signed up to to try out for the newly-formed Federal Hockey League’s Danbury Whalers. At the age of 40, this likely makes him the oldest rookie to seek out a job in professional hockey, a long time dream of his.
“I grew up a New York Rangers fan I would go to the games at Madison Square Garden with my father and it was just a great time to be a hockey fan great time to be a kid. I always wanted to play hockey.” Then at the age of 14 he got on his first skateboard and his life was set on a different course. But that didn’t make him forget the NHL, and a move to California years later re-awoke his passion for the game with the new arrival of Wayne Gretzky in America.
Asked today if he’s been playing hockey over the years since then, he states it’s been “mostly pick-up hockey.” Vallely mentioned that while he’s played in rec leagues and been serious about the game in the past, most of his time has understandably been dedicated to skateboarding.
As Vallely has had a lot of experience with celebrity events and promotions in the NHL over the years, I asked him if he’s received any pre-camp advice from friends up in the pros.
“George Parros and Luc Robitaille both emailed me wishing me well. My childhood hero Nick Fotiu called me up a few weeks back and did the same. I will definitely be working with and getting advice from friends in pro hockey as this thing moves along but I also realize it all really just comes down me and my level of commitment and dedication and how hard I’m willing to work to make this a reality.”
It’s that kind of attitude that’s made Herm Sorcher, CEO of the Danbury Whalers, a fan. “Mike is a hard-nosed athlete. He wants to play, and we want to give him the opportunity to show what he can do.” Chris Fiorrilo, Head Coach of the team, feels much the same way, remarking “hockey requires discipline and commitment” which he seems confident Vallely can bring to his team.
Asked about his conditioning to play professional hockey, Mike V states he’s “ramped it up in the last couple months,” and after a summer skateboarding tour ends in mid-August, he intends to dedicate all his time to his hockey preparation. But will this provide him with enough time to be ready for training camp?
“Yes, I think that gives me enough time to prepare. I will be totally focused with on and off ice training from mid-August until I arrive in Danbury for camp. It will be an intense and all-consuming period of time but I absolutely plan on showing up in great shape, ready to go and to prove that I can hang in that environment.”
When asked what kind of shape he’s in at this point, by virtue of his skateboarding history, he also expressed confidence. “Skateboarding takes a physical toll and my body has taken a beating through the years, but I feel great.”
As for what kind of role Vallely sees for himself on the ice, others have speculated he might seek out the role of team enforcer. Vallely isn’t so sure.
“Well I don’t know about the word ‘enforcer.’ Like I said, I plan on earning my keep. Hockey is an intense, aggressive, physical sport and we know that fighting is a part of it. I don’t plan on going to camp and getting into a bunch of fights. I am going to defer to my coach and do what I have to do and what?s required of me from moment to moment. I plan on being a team player and doing whatever is required.”
The question is, can a skateboarder, even one of the best in the world, become a professional hockey player at the ripe age of 40?
Mike V believes he’s got what it takes. The rest of us will have to wait to find out when training camp starts up this coming October.