WHAT IT FEELS LIKE...
To block a slap shot
Instead of turning away from incoming slap shots, some of which travel at speeds of 90 mph and faster, Washington Capitals wing Quintin Laing willingly throws his body in front of them. Laing wears the bruises like badges of honor.
It actually feels great when you get hit. When I go down, I want the puck to hit me. Then there's the couple of seconds where it hurts -- not all the time, but maybe 10 percent of the time -- that it really hurts. When that happens, you just have to gut it out, bite your lip and do whatever it takes to get a whistle and get off the ice.
For guys, there's just that one spot you don't want to get hit. One time last year, I got hit on the collarbone by a slap shot. That hurt a lot and it scared me because it was so close to my throat. The most painful place is on the boot or on the toe, that's why I lay down -- so I can get it on a fleshy part.
This one got me on the ribs stung [he pulls up his shirt]. About 20 seconds later, I got this one [he pulls up his shorts].
When you have guys like [Atlanta's Ilya] Kovalchuk winding up, you have to be a little more . . . you can't go in head first. You have to be smart with those guys with heavy shots. You don't want to get injured and break something.
I've never missed a game because of a blocked shot. Just some bumps and bruises that you feel the next day.
It's a great feeling when your teammates take notice of your effort and give you compliments. It makes you want to keep doing it. But my wife doesn't like me going down to block shots because it exposes my face and my neck. She tells me when I come home, 'What were you thinking?' But I just tell her that it's part of the job.
-- Interview by Tarik El-Bashir