|“I’m a chronic handwasher. I don’t like shaking hands, I just don’t like touching things. People give me a hard time for not being a dog lover or an animal person. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t enjoy touching them.” |
Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy
was a popular figure in Pittsburgh during parts of five seasons with the Penguins, and in two-and-a-half months in Anaheim, it’s been easy to see why.
It’s not just that Lovejoy has been playing admirable defense for the Ducks since they picked him up in a trade for a fifth round pick on February 6. (Bruce Boudreau recently called him, "Everything and more than we've asked.) And it’s not only that he frequently delivers hits that reflect neither Love nor Joy.
Talk to him away from the rink, and he’s a very easy guy to like. The 29-year-old from Concord, New Hampshire has a unhurried, methodical way of speaking that is packed with intelligence and flashes of humor – almost like he’s thinking of the perfect way to deliver a sentence as he’s uttering it. (It should be noted, by the way, he spent four years at Dartmouth.)
For example, here is him earlier this year on why he earned the nickname Rev, after Reverand Lovejoy from “The Simpsons” (which is reflected in his Twitter avatar): “When I first became a pro hockey player, people started calling me Rev. I watched the show growing up, so I knew it well. All the guys in Pittsburgh called me Rev pretty regularly.
"We were in Canada one day watching Sportscentre. I made a play and the announcer called me ‘The Reverend!’ The next day Mike Rupp, who was then my teammate in Pittsburgh, came in and couldn’t believe the announcer knew my nickname. Rupp wasn’t a ‘Simpsons’ fan, so he didn’t know. It has very little to do with my religious affiliation. It’s an uncommon name and that character has made it famous, so I’ve embraced that.”
Today I was talking to Lovejoy about a feature we’re developing on playoff beards, and he good-naturedly admitted that he’s a longtime germaphobe.
“I’m a chronic handwasher,” he said. “I don’t like shaking hands, I just don’t like touching things. People give me a hard time for not being a dog lover or an animal person. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t enjoy touching them.”
I asked him if he shakes hands or goes with the Howie Mandel fist bump.
“I will tough it out,” he said, “and then pull out some hand sanitizer when I have to. I carry it with me all the time.”
I asked how long it’s been the case. “It’s been awhile,” he said. “My teammates here have recently discovered it. I get a hard time, but I think they understand.”
That being said, he has high hopes for the playoff beard, and he couldn’t have put it any better: “I actually have a pretty manly playoff beard, even though I do not enjoy having facial hair. It itches, and usually like keeping clean and nicely shaven.
“But I do it because it’s an important tradition. It’s the profession I’ve chosen, and you tough it out because it’s that sort of bunker mentality. Everyone grows one, and I look forward to having a beard for over eight weeks starting in May.”