On their marks

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Big, strong Sheldon Souray glances toward his little friend that won't go away.

He shakes his head and laughs.

"A bunny rabbit with boxing gloves," the 6-foot-4, 225-lb. Montreal Canadiens defenceman says in describing the first of his five tattoos, a work of body art he got when he was 15.

"Buster Bunny. That's probably the one I wish they came out with the removable ink, or erasable ink, before I got it.

"A lot of guys have the tattoos and more often than not, they're cartoon characters, which are kind of funny when you're 16, 17, 18 ... but once you start getting 25, 30 years old, you wish you might have got something else."

Since Buster entered his life, Souray has complemented him with meaningful markings. An Indian chief on one arm, a steer's head with feathers hanging off the horns on the other, a design of a star on his chest, a little Mohican sun on his back ... all representing the pride he has in the native part of his ancestry.

He just wishes he could shake the damn bunny.

Joe Corvo knows how he feels.

When he was 16, the Senators defenceman had a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil etched into the back of his right leg. It's the only one of his 10 he'd probably give back if he could.

"Most guys got like Disney characters playing hockey for some reason," says Corvo, who thinks between 70-80% of hockey players have a tattoo. "It was cool then. I never look at that one.

"There's no turning back. I knew that going in."

Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference got his first tattoo when he was 16 as well.

The Canadian flag was done before he left home to play junior hockey in the U.S. and after parents did some investigating.

"I had to make a deal with them," says Ference. "They had to come and see the tattoo place to make sure it was clean before they'd give me permission to get one."

He's added nine more since then, including tigers on his chest and dragons on his back.

Ray Emery took some heat from Senators management last season when a photo of him getting his arm done appeared on the front of the Sun. Now, he's reluctant to discuss his tattoos, other than to estimate he has "about" eight.

"I've covered some up," says Emery. "I've kinda shut 'er down for a little while."

Even Brian McGrattan's parents didn't complain when got his first tattoo. Of course, they didn't know about it for a few years, either.

"When they did, my dad was a little pissed but my mom was okay," says the Senators tough guy, who has his nickname, the sun, and a tribal piece etched into his upper torso. "I'm not getting any more. I'm not really into them."

Wade Belak was 16 years old when he had his first tattoo done. He didn't get another until his junior days were over and he was playing pro hockey in Hershey.

"Too much time on my hands, I guess," says the rugged Leafs defenceman/forward, who now has seven or eight tattoos.

"Other people had them and I had always been fascinated. I had one on my arm, so I had to get another for the other arm, because I thought not (getting matching tattoos) would look funny."


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