Former NHL enforcer Nick Kypreos offered some chilling insight Wednesday into the mind-set of a high-performance athlete.
“I’m not proud to say it, but I felt like if I could kill somebody with a legal check, I would do it,” Kypreos said, reflecting on his career during a discussion on vicious bodychecking -- whether clean or illegal -- on The Fan 590.
“That’s how much emotion, and outside the norm (of society that a hockey player) can get ... there is no rhyme or reason.
“I have been out there and looked at another guy’s eyes and I thought ‘I could kill you.’ ”
Not that he ever did.
But in the wake of Patrice Cormier’s much-debated cheap shot in a junior hockey game in Quebec on Sunday, Kypreos was stressing how a player’s passion — or anger — could turn a routine bodycheck into a violent act.
“Bodychecking is so much more than just getting the puck,” Kypreos said in an interview following the Hockey Central broadcast.
“It can involve drawing some emotions that you’re not proud of.”
By no means was Kypreos excusing Cormier’s vicious elbow that sent Mikael Tam to hospital with a concussion. In fact, he described the hit as gutless and awful.
“Cormier had deeper intentions than just finishing a check,” Kypreos said over the phone.
But the key to trying to deliver a punishing hit or exact a measure of revenge is to do it legally. That’s where Cormier failed miserably.
“It goes to your makeup as a human being,” Kypreos said. “If you’re going to get somebody, you can’t just take a stick and whack him over the head, or grab a gun.
“Instead you turn yourself into a predator and take your time and wait for a chance to (inflict damage) in a sort of socially acceptable way.”
Clearly, it is not easy to maintain that control when your blood is boiling. Sure, you know you need to hit the caution switch, but ...
“There is stuff that will make you snap, say if your goalie or one of your best players is taken advantage of,” Kypreos said.
It’s like road rage on skates.
“I’ve gone over the line ... eye-gouging, biting, hits from behind ... there’s a ton of stuff I’m not proud of.”
Kypreos, 43, had his share of scraps — socially acceptable or not — during his career.
In 442 games, he accumulated 1,210 penalty minutes, and admits that at times he carried a serious disliking for an opponent.
“There are some guys who really can have a hate-on,” Kypreos said.
“So, to hurt somebody with a hit, there is almost a feeling of accomplishment.”
On the flipside, if you do damage with an illegal hit, there should be a feeling of shame.