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'The Fighter' goes back to center ice in Boston

Sunday, 02.13.2011 / 1:35 AM / NHL Insider

By Bob Snow - NHL.com Correspondent

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'The Fighter' goes back to center ice in Boston
Friday night, the Bruins brought Mickey Ward, the inspiration for the box-office hit 'The Fighter,' back to center ice for a ceremonial face-off.
"I never got the chance to fight in the old Garden – my brother [Dicky Eklund] did. But I did get to fight here," said Micky Ward about his return to the TD Garden, the site of some memorable bouts in his storied ring career.

The life and times of Ward – from nearby Lowell, Mass. -- are the backdrop of the recent box-office hit "The Fighter," starring Mark Wahlberg.

Friday night, the Bruins brought Ward back to center ice for the ceremonial first face-off before the Wings whitewashed the Bruins, 6-1.

Ward was also in attendance two nights earlier when the Bruins-Canadiens battle was more aligned with the pugnacious Ward's experience with pugilism.

"I was here Thursday; loved it. I was into it big time. If I dropped the puck at that one," said the humorous Ward in a pre-game interview with the media, "the fights would have started right away. They didn't have to play; just start [fighting].

"See Tim Thomas? He got all tired coming down the ice and maybe said [to Carey Price] 'Hey, how ya doin?' 'Good and you,' maybe Price said back. Then the fire kinda settled down.

"But it was a good game; Bruins went up and Montreal came back. Good game, good fights."

What are Ward's thoughts about the difficulty of the game on the frozen sheet in contrast to the one on canvas?

"Tougher to be a hockey player [than a boxer]; you gotta be crazy flying around and throwing your face into everything. Hockey's tough; you get checked and banged around. There's also a lot of finesse."

Did he ever play?

"I had one speed – fast and down. Fast and crash!" he said with enough material for a stand-up comedy routine. "I played pond hockey – I liked it, but a whole different game [from boxing]; skating is tough to go backwards, frontwards, sideways. I followed the Bruins when they won the Cup. Went to the games; I was into boxing but loved watching those teams."

Is an acting career a remote possibility for Micky Ward?

"Absolutely not. My part is still on the floor; I'm looking for it. I made a cameo; still on the floor also. I'm in one scene where I knocked a guy out – 'That's me.' I said. It made the outtakes not the movie. That's my acting career."

How about a sequel to The Fighter?

"You never know; they left the [Arturo] Gatti fights out. I'm open to it.

Most definitely, those [two fights] were the highlights of my career. [The Fighter] is really a movie with boxing as a backdrop to family dynamics. It's more about family and the trials and tribulations you go through being a fighter and dealing with a brother on drugs, and a mother and sisters."

Ward's next PR stop is 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards presentations.

"The Fighter" is nominated for seven awards.

"Yeah, me and my brother are going out there. It's a tough ticket unless you're one of the actors. I think we'll end up getting one."

Friday night, the sold-out Bruins crowd gave Ward a welcome befitting a local kid who did good as the former world welterweight champion.

"It's surreal tonight. I'd rather have them cheering for me than against. It's happened," he chuckled.

Cheer, indeed, they did.

"This makes all the BS you went through worth it," smiled Ward. "All the fights and then to have a movie made about you. And these things like coming to these games."

Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh