In the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bates Battaglia was an important piece of a Carolina Hurricanes team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Detroit Red Wings.
In that postseason run, Battaglia contributed 14 points in 23 games, including an overtime winner in Game 2 of Carolina's opening-road series against the New Jersey Devils and a three-point night in the clinching game of their conference semifinal win against the Montreal Canadiens.
Just over a decade later, Battaglia will be competing on "The Amazing Race" (premieres Sunday, Feb. 17 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET), one of the most physically and emotionally demanding reality shows on television. And he doesn't see much difference between competing for the show's $1 million prize and chasing hockey's Holy Grail.
"Honestly, I think it's pretty similar. You have to stay focused. If you watch the show, you know that every day there is something different. You have to be ready for everything. It could be mental, it could be physical," said Battaglia, who registered 198 points in 580 NHL games played with four teams. "No matter what they throw at you, you have to be ready for it. It's the same thing in hockey, especially the playoffs. You've got to be ready for anything. You take one night off and you're done."
Battaglia will team with his brother Anthony, another professional hockey player, to compete against 10 other teams on the award-winning game show in which contestants face numerous challenges while being whisked around the globe. He'd thought about auditioning for "The Amazing Race" for some time, and now that he's officially a contestant on the show, he's raring to go.
"We haven't seen every season, but we watch it quite a bit. I felt like I could do some of this. We play hockey, so we're physically active and in good shape," Bates told NHL.com. "I just thought I would throw my name in the hat and see what happens. It worked out. I'm pretty pumped up about it."
The Battaglia brothers will be competing on the show against a set of twin brother physicians, newlyweds, a married couple, and a pair of firefighters. But Bates and Anthony are hoping they'll gain a marked advantage thanks to their unique rapport on and off the ice.
The brothers were teammates during the 2010-11 season with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League and played a season together in 2004-05 with the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the East Coast Hockey League. That familiarity could go a long way toward winning "The Amazing Race."
"Not only did we play together, we work out and live together during the summertime. We're very close and that can only help us. Working as a team will come pretty easy to us," Bates said. "I don't think being a professional athlete hurts. With hockey, you travel a lot, and I've played in different countries. So I think I've got a little bit of everything I need. Same with my brother."
A number of pro athletes have competed on the show prior to this season. But do former hockey teammates, and brothers at that, possess a unique advantage over their competition in this unique globe-trotting scavenger hunt? Bates and Anthony Battaglia are about to find out.