Corporal punishment

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Being dubbed "Corporal Punishment" by his teammates isn't just a catchy nickname for Ryan McNish.

It's a moniker McNish truly lives up to.

The Calgary Roughnecks defender can certainly dole out the punishment. No opponent has to ask twice if he'd like to do the knuckle-chucking dance. McNish is also a corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces, stationed at CFB Edmonton with the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. Because of the base's history of sending troops overseas, it is a distinct possibility at some point in the future McNish will be heading out on a mission.

"There's all sorts of chances that it could happen," said McNish, who will line up with the Roughnecks against the Edmonton Rush tonight.

"The potential is there for me to go somewhere. There's always rumours floating around but we get our best info off of CNN. They're the first ones to find out."

AVIATIONS SYSTEM TECHNICIAN

The 24-year-old from Winnipeg is an aviation systems technician specializing in servicing the CH-146 Griffon helicopters used in search and rescue missions. McNish's previous assignments never afforded him the opportunity to play in the National Lacrosse League. But after being picked up by Toronto from Ottawa in the 2003 dispersal draft, McNish asked for and was granted a trade to Calgary - a move which finally allowed him to break into the NLL as a rookie last season.

At any moment, though, a call could come that would bring a quick end to McNish's sophomore year.

"The bottom line is I signed on and decided to have a life in the Armed Forces," said McNish, who uses up all of his annual leave days to accommodate the Roughnecks' schedule.

"It's part of the job. I'd definitely like to go somewhere, but preferably when I'm not playing lacrosse. I haven't been in that position yet, but I'm sure the team would be supportive and give me their blessing if I had to go.

"I'm pretty sure every one of the guys in the league has some kind of problems with their job but it works out all right for me. I have a busy schedule but I have two jobs that I love so I can't complain."

If that day does come, the hole in the lineup would be cause for concern for the Roughnecks but McNish's absence would be felt much deeper.

"There's great honour and sacrifice in choosing that career path and Ryan would have our utmost respect if he had to go," said Calgary head coach Chris Hall.

"It would be much more than the loss from a player performance standpoint. It's a much more personal loss and the support from his teammates and the organization would be stronger than ever."

SHIP OUT TO AFGHANISTAN

Recently McNish watched a few of his mates ship out to Afghanistan and some familiar faces were among those injured in a roadside bombing. But that hasn't swayed McNish's interest in joining the troops in the volatile Middle East.

"That definitely hit close to home. I was standing in line in the mess hall one day with some of those guys and then that happened. Hearing those stories has been brutal," he said.

"But we all join up for the military life for different reasons. I want the opportunity to travel and go places that I would never get to go with a different career. You just have to accept what that means."

McNish has developed quite a following on the base. More than 60 of his co-workers came out to see him play at Rexall Place against the Rush and the six-foot-two, 230-pounder was greeted with cheers upon arriving to work last week following his late-game tussle with Toronto Rock tough guy J.J. Dickie.

But his growing fan club at the 408 isn't enough reason to sway McNish into vying for a a spot with the Rush.

"It's been a pretty interesting position for me with the war of worlds going on in the papers," laughed McNish.


Videos

Photos