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You've Changed

by Jesse D. Eisenberg / New York Islanders

During the final stretch of the team’s 11-day tour of the western United States and Canada, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a revelatory conversation between close friends Matt Martin and Travis Hamonic aboard the team bus.

The two had been chirping one another’s toughness throughout the trip and that day’s debate focused on who’d been in more fights this season and who’d had tougher opponents. Hamonic, of course, has yet to engage in his first career NHL scrap, but has several AHL bouts under his belt. Hammer also contested that summer league fights should count towards his season total. After all, “a fight’s a fight. It’s not like the guy’s not trying to deck you just because it’s summer league.”

That’s when Martin swooped in with a low blow.

“I guess now that you play 20 minutes in a night, you don’t have to fight. You think you’ve already ‘made it.’ You’ve changed.”

Instead of going right back at Martin, like he had all trip, the 20-minute-a-night defenseman instinctively went on the defensive, desperate to negate the notion that he had “changed.”

Martin was in his head.

“I don’t know why, but ‘you’ve changed’ is probably the worst thing you can say to a guy,” said Martin. “What’s so bad about changing?”

That night in Chicago, Hamonic dropped his gloves on NHL ice for the first time, perhaps still trying to prove that he hadn’t changed. Unfortunately, his efforts only added fuel to the fire, as Hamonic was sent to the box with a double-minor for roughing, still in search of his first NHL fight.
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