Once a hockey nut, always a hockey nut.
During his last hockey game on New Year’s Eve, John Kerry suffered a broken nose and black eyes so colorful that he walked around wearing sunglasses. At 68 years old, you’d think Massachusetts’s senior senator might consider giving up the game to concentrate on gentler pursuits. . . like, say, politics.
“I’m not ready to hang it up,” he told us Sunday. “I love it. It’s a great game and I’m able to still skate — I’ve got two artificial hips and I’m still out there.”
Kerry couldn’t wait to get on the ice Sunday for the 4th Congressional Hockey Challenge, which pits lawmakers against lobbyists. His enthusiasm for the sport earned him mad props from all the other players, even his opponents. “I hope I’m able to get out of bed at his age, much less play hockey,” said UPS’s Nick Lewis.
The official reason for this game is charity: It raised $150,000 for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Fort Dupont’s arena and hockey club. But, good works aside, it’s also a great excuse for D.C.’s political geeks to worship the sport. Thanks to a special loan from the National Hockey League, Kerry brought the actual Stanley Cup (won by his beloved Boston Bruins) to Capitol Hill Wednesday, which proved to be a fun run-up to Sunday’s match-up at Verizon Center.
The lawmakers wanted payback: They won the inaugural game in 2009, then lost to the lobbyists two years in a row. “The pressure’s huge, so this is a revenge game,” said Kerry. Each roster boasted a mix of big names and young ringers (i.e., staffers with serious ice skills.) “I got dragged into it this year,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen. “But Minnesota has such a proud hockey tradition, so I had to play.”
At first, it looked like a rout: The lawmakers scored two goals in the first eight minutes of the game, and another two in the second period. Despite no slashing/tripping/checking rules, there were tough hits, penalties and a passing moment when it looked as if the teams would start an old-fashioned, kick-butt fight on the ice. Cooler heads prevailed: The lobbyists managed to put three goals on the scoreboard but lost to the lawmakers 5-3.
The winning team happily passed the silver trophy — none happier than player #1.
“Senator Kerry is an inspiration,” lobbyist Lewis told us. “If we ever say we’re too old for it, we might as well pack it in.”
Read earlier: John Kerry’s black eyes, broken nose at White House (photo), 1/24/12