One-on-One with Patrick Bordeleau

A lot of athletes say that they really had to fight to make it to this level. Monsters left winger Patrick Bordeleau means it.

Seriously.

Drafted in the 4th round by the Minnesota Wild in 2004, the Montreal native turned pro during the 2007-08 season after leaving St. Thomas University. He signed on a try-out with the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League and played 10 games before moving on to stints with the Wheeling Nailers and Pensacola Ice Pilots to wrap up the season.

Bordeleau bounced around, playing for nine ECHL and AHL teams – including a previous stop with the Monsters – before resigning with Lake Erie prior to the 2009-10 season.

The 6-6, 225-pounder finally found the right home – and the right role: as the Monsters enforcer. In his first full season in Cleveland, he played in a professional-high 60 games, piling up 106 penalty minutes to conclude his longest stretch with any one team.

This past June, Bordeleau inked a one year, two-way contract with the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. But for now, the Monsters resident tough guy remains ready to rumble right here on the North Coast.

LakeErieMonsters.com sat down with Bordeleau to ask him about settling down in Cleveland, how he became the Monsters enforcer and, of course, how he’d fare against some of the hockey world (and real and fictional world’s) toughest tough guys:


After a slow start, the team has been hot lately. What do you credit for the turnaround?
Patrick Bordeleau: I think you have to credit our work ethic and our perseverance. We keep working at it at practice with Coach. Our saying is always: “skate hard, hit hard and play simple.”

And I think the team has been doing that since after the first three weeks of the season.

After moving around a lot earlier in your career, it’s it good to finally settle with one team?
Bordeleau: I mean, it’s pretty good for me. When I first played pro, I didn’t find a home. I was playing in the East Coast, getting called up everywhere – which is good, it’s not a bad thing.

But I got called up here at the end of the year a few years ago and I found a place where they liked me, I liked them. And it’s been a good deal, so far.

How did you become an enforcer?
Bordeleau: I would say, I didn’t want to be an enforcer. When you’re young, you always want to score goals. And actually, I was scoring goals until I was about 20 years old. But the farther you go in hockey, the levels get narrower and narrower, so you have to find a thing that no one’s doing.

I’ve always been really aggressive when I was younger, fighting at school and everything. I like to fight. And at 20 years old, I decided that I had to fight if I wanted to make it.

But you don’t want to be known as just the team’s designated scrapper?
Bordeleau: Yeah, I mean I can play a little bit. Like I said, until I was 20, I was a goal scorer and when I played on the East Coast I scored a goal or two.

But here in the American Hockey League, you have to play simple. And that’s actually been a problem for me. I’ve been trying to play a little too much.

I try to be just a really simple guy and this is what’s going to put me in the NHL if I do it.

What’s the secret to winning a hockey fight?
Bordeleau: You gotta out-punch the other guy, that’s for sure. But I think balance is a big part of it. And the aim is big, too. You have to have a good aim. If you’re punching air, it doesn’t do a thing.

But I would say balance, aim and punch hard. And fast, too.

Who’s the second-toughest guy on the team?
Bordeleau: Second-toughest guy on the team? Oh boy. I’d say Hugh Jessiman or Dave Liffiton.

Those two would have a good fight. But there’s no way they could beat me.

What was the best fight you’ve ever seen?
Bordeleau: John Mirasty and Trevor Gillies. It was an American League hockey fight.

Is “goon” a dirty word?
Bordeleau: I don’t think so. If you’re a goon and you can play hockey, I think the “goon” part will disappear. I think the guys that can’t skate and can’t play hockey will disappear one day.

But I don’t mind “goon.” I like to be the goon.

On a serious note, over the past summer, multiple enforcers – Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak – passed away. What are your thoughts on that?
Bordeleau: Like I said earlier, it gets narrower and narrower as you go further. But as a tough guy, we don’t play a lot. We’re put on the fourth line and we have a small role to do. And if we do it well, we’re still getting paid and everything, but I guess at times, it’s depressing, you know.

But I think the big cause of problems is the concussions. It’s not because they’re tough guys. It’s more about concussions. Guys who get concussions can sometimes get depressed and then it's how they may or may not deal with that.

(Enforcers) get more concussions than the skill guys.

Have you ever gotten one?
Bordeleau: I’ve never had one – knock on wood. I guess I have a hard head.

Ever lost a fight?
Bordeleau: I’ve never lost in the AHL, no.

How about a little hockey fight pick’em? You versus the following guys …
Bordeleau: Let’s do it.

OK – Bob Probert …
Bordeleau: You know what? That’s actually one guy I think I couldn’t beat. He’s the greatest. He passed away a few years ago and I think he’s the greatest fighter of all time.

But … everyone else.

Like Dave Semenko?
Bordeleau: I would beat him.

Ogie Oglethorpe?
Bordeleau: I would beat him. I would put my stick in his face.

Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken?
Bordeleau: Oh yeah. I would hook with him, too.

Mike Tyson in his prime?
Bordeleau: No, I don’t think so. Those boxing guys are quicker, they hit harder.

On skates … any time of the day, though.

How about out-of-shape “Hangover” Mike Tyson?
Bordeleau: Oh yeah! Every time.

Tie Domi?
Bordeleau: You know what? He’s a great fighter and I like his heart and everything. But as a tall guy, I think I could handle him pretty good.

Does it help to be a tall guy in a hockey fight?
Bordeleau: It’s different. The taller you are, the balance is a little harder for us. When you’re smaller, the balance is easier.

So I would say for me, the way I fight, it’s good to be tall. Because I like to go punch for punch and knock the guys out. But a small guy likes to be small, cause they can get into you and be quicker and all that. But I like to be tall.

Do you still have all your chiclets?
Bordeleau: No, I don’t. I’m missing one. But that’s not too bad.

UFC’s Cain Velasquez?
Bordeleau: No, never. Not on feet.

I actually tried MMA this summer. That’s not for me. I won one and I lost one. The first fight went really well. I knocked the guy out, and that was fun. But the second one didn’t go too well. I got stitches on my nose and everything. And I got knocked out.

Do you hone your fighting skills in the offseason?
Bordeleau: Yeah, I hit the bag in the summer all the time with my trainer. The punching side – you can work at it. But it’s either you have it or you don’t.

I mean, no offense, but you can’t ask David van der Gulik to fight. He doesn’t have it in him. Even if he’s mad, he’s not going to fight. He’ll stick the guy or something. But for me, it’s an instinct.

My dad was a fighter. I’m a fighter. My son will be a fighter. I guess it’s in our blood.

What about Rocky Balboa?
Bordeleau: Yeah.

Apollo Creed?
Bordeleau: Oh yeah.

Mr. T?
Bordeleau: I don’t know. He’s a little crazy. But on skates, I’d maul him, of course.

Drago?
Bordeleau: Oh, I hate that guy with a passion! And yeah, I would beat him.

How about Dave Brown of the Broad Street Bullies?
Bordeleau: I remember my dad told me about them. Those guys were crazy a little bit – you know – no helmets. But I’d take my chance, sure. I wouldn’t back down from anyone.

Last one: Marty McSorely?
Bordeleau: Oh yeah. I think I’d hit him with my stick like he did to (Donald) Brashear. Then I’d fight him.

You know, us French guys got to stick together.


 


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