The Star – If Ethan Lavallee lined up with the Maple Leafs for a picture he’d be in the back row. At six-foot-five-and-a-half and 192 pounds, he would be the tallest player but one, centre David Steckel. At just 12 years of age, though, he’s a long way from the grinding game of the NHL. Lavallee plays forward for the peewee AAA Nickel City Sons in the outskirts of Sudbury. He’s a top scorer on the team, which is ranked third overall in the competitive Ontario league, just behind the Mississauga Rebels and the Toronto Marlboros.
Lavallee is impossible to miss on the ice or the bench, rising head and shoulders above the other players and even his coaches. At tournaments, he routinely draws a crowd of gaping spectators. “He’s the 16-year-old playing out with the little kids, that’s what the comment always is,” says his dad, Jason Lavallee. Given his advantages, it’s easy to wonder whether Lavallee will, in a few years, be touted as the next great thing in hockey. Right now, he’s just a bundle of long-limbed potential. With his enormous stride, he’s always been fast and could find the back of the net, but he’s becoming an adept playmaker, too, says his coach, Dan Giroux. If he continues to develop his game, Giroux says, it won’t be long before junior teams start taking a look at this “unique player.”
“Sometimes I’ll hit, but whenever I hit I make sure I’m down low and never shoulder to head,” says Lavallee. And while the referees are watching Lavallee like a hawk, he’s watching out for the other players. “There are people gunning for me on the other teams,” he says. It’s not just the players. Fans start shouting “head shot” and “goon, kick him out” at the drop of the puck and, if he ever falls, the other team’s fans “cheer like they just won the game,” says coach Giroux.
Listen I’m no hockey expert and I don’t claim to be but I do know this. It’s a man’s game played by men. No room for pussies and softies. You skate around at full speed on hard ice just plowing into people knocking teeth and brains out. If you can’t take the bumps and bruises you’ll be out of the game real quick. So if this monster motherfucking 12 year old wants to have a future in this game he’s got to toughen his shit up real quick. Stop worrying about aiming your hits because you don’t to hurt anybody. Stop worrying about everyone gunning for you and cheering when you fall down. Want to shut the fans up? Find the loudest hockey mom in the crowd, figure out which one is her son, and plant him through the fucking boards. Send a message. The NHL wants bruisers not self-conscious weak hearted babies. Grow up giant.