Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fight club… for kids?

From the... you just can't make this kind of stuff up dept.
He is the head professor of an old-school ritual outlawed at all levels of amateur hockey and ringleader of a summer curriculum that has generated more scorn than approval among the provincial capital's chattering class.

The Wild's Derek Boogaard, who towers over most men with his hulking 6-foot-7 frame (6-9 on skates), loves presiding over this controversial family affair in his hometown, as his persistent smile attests.

Thursday night, about two dozen players ages 12-18 paid $50 apiece to learn from the Boogeyman and his protégé, Aaron, his youngest brother and a former Wild prospect now under contract to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The kids learned how to leverage their strength when decking an opponent, protect themselves against punches from various angles and condition their bodies for the physical play that is the cause of, and solution to, the NHL's identity crisis.

The second "Derek Boogaard Fighting Camp," which includes T-shirts splotched with blood-red dye, was staged inside a stuffy miniature rink with boards, glass and plastic ice.

Kids separated into two groups and donned full equipment, including skates and boxing gloves, during an hour of supervised training with the brothers Boogaard.

"The main thing is I'm not teaching them how to hurt each other," Derek insists. "I'm showing them how to protect themselves - where to hold, where to grab and, if you're in trouble, what to do.
And they say fighting has no future in this sport.

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