#171191756 / gettyimages.com Whats your favourite hockey jersey in the NHL right now?I have to stay with the Red Wings or the Blackhawks. Originality for sure, those are awesome jerseys. The Dallas Stars new jerseys are actually not that bad, theyre growing on me a little bit.Did you have a hockey hero growing up?I liked all kinds of guys. Gretzky obviously. I liked Dale Hunter, Wendel Clark… guys that played the game tough with a lot of passion. Paul Coffey.Whos your favourite player in todays NHL and why?My favourite player playing the game today… I like watching [Henrik] Zetterberg, [Pavel] Datsyuk… I like the way that kid players from Toronto, [Leo] Komarov. I like watching the players who can run guys and have good skill. Chris Neil, I like Chris, hes a good friend of mine so I always like to cheer him on.What was your favourite team to play for and why?Well, Detroit… the experience of winning the Stanley Cup, and then playing for the Ilitch Family was second to none, just in the way they treated the guys. The amount of veterans we had on our team with [Chris] Chelios, [Nicklas] Lidstrom, [Kirk] Maltby, [Kris] Draper… guys like that. It never got any better than that. There was no ego on the team so it made it really satisfying everyday for everybody. It was awesome to come to the rink every single day, regardless of the weather you just wanted to be there. Second to that Dallas was a real nice place to play. #80515214 / gettyimages.com Youre one of the success stories of a player who was never drafted by an NHL team or a major junior team -- how much harder do you think your journey to the NHL was than your average player?It was a battle. Even if youre drafted to a team, say a year or two down the road and the team loses the management you were drafted by, youre basically out on an island. But being undrafted, you have to fight against all the odds. You have to have somebody who goes to bat for you on the team, and its hard to find that somebody to go to bat for you because its a reflection on them too. You have to work extra hard, and you have to make sure its something that you really want because its a long road. For those kids out there who arent drafted, keep your head held high because its not the end of the world. You just have to develop at your own pace; its different for everybody. There are kids who arent fully matured at 17 versus someone that could be fully matured like your [Sidney] Crosbys or your [Alex] Ovechkins, your premiere players at 18-19 years old. Theres a different timeline for everybody, patience is the best thing I can say.After knocking Hurricanes Jesse Boulerice down with one punch in 2003, Stars colour commentator Daryl Reaugh coined the nickname "Aaron One punch and hes Downey" -- what did you think of that nickname?I thought that was pretty funny actually. Ya, that was Reaughzor that did that. That nickname alone got me an extra five years of contracts.Who are some of the best fight opponents you faced in your NHL career?Theres a long list of them, everyone brought something different to the table. Peter Worrell, I dont know if you remember Worrell, but he was a tough son of a gun. Some of those fights meant something to the team, so I always look at the fights that actually meant something and could change the game in some way whether it was a momentum swing or whatever. Some of the tougher guys were Paul Laus, Jody Shelley… Jared Boll I remember playing in Columbus during our Stanley Cup run, Andrei Nazarov, those guys are all mean. You dont see those great, big, mean guys like the Hatcher brothers anymore, so many of those guys that are gone now. #77001720 / gettyimages.com Thats leading into my next question, what is your current position on the place of fighting in the game -- do you see a time ahead when players say "no" to it all together?I think so. I think if you look at a generation, you can define a generation as 10 years or 20 years, and it usually takes about 20 years for the unnatural to become the natural. If you do your history on fighting and how it has evolved, it was basically evolved back in 1917 and 1918 when they put the blue lines. It was harder for the stick handlers to get free and they were knocked off the puck considerably often and one way to protect that was to physically send players to protect them, and then that evolved into fisticuffs, and fisticuffs became popular when a guy named Tex Rickard entered the picture. He was responsible for bringing in the New York Rangers, owned the hockey team and was big into boxing, a boxing promoter believe it or not, and was partnered up with the McMahons. If you remember the McMahons in professional wrestling, he had an affiliation with all those guys! So there was a loophole there and that was an opportunity for them to grow the game. So if you do your history, its something that was grown into the DNA fabric of hockey, and now were trying to go back in time with an eraser, going back in time with the DeLorean automobile like they would say in Back to the Future, and were trying to erase all that stuff. Theres no right or wrong, we as people just have to take a step back and say, "wait a minute." The stage fighting was all evolved, so you can see how theyre taking out all the stage fighting, but its going to be hard to take out the actual fights because that was evolved when they put the blue lines in. The only thing they did tinker with though in 1994 was the instigator rule, if they were to take the instigator rule out it would be pretty interesting how it would effect the game right now. #185592997 / gettyimages.com In 2008 you won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, but you didnt play in Game 6 -- Ive heard some stories before, but at what time in the third period did you start getting your gear on?I dont know if you knew this, but in Game 5 we thought we actually jinxed it. Myself, D-Mac [Darren McCarty], Chelios, and a few guys were in the room, and we think we put our equipment on a little too early, because they scored and won in overtime. We had to rush to get our equipment off so the guys wouldnt see us. And I think they even jumped the gun, because they were bringing in food and bringing celebration stuff, so everyone was in a mad scramble. Ill never forget. So then when we went back to Pittsburgh for Game 6, this time we did it right, and D-Mac and I stayed in the locker room with our equipment on because we both took warm-up, so we just left our equipment on the whole time. #81777688 / gettyimages.com Mike Babcock often praised you for your willingness to stick up for teammates and for your positive attitude in the dressing room – what was it like getting such high acclaim from one of the games great coaches?</br>Mike Babcock was one of the guys responsible for bringing me in to the Detroit Red Wings. It was my phone call, and my initiation on it, but he was one of the guys that brought me in because, like you touched on, I was vocal in the locker room. My job wasnt just being on the ice and being the tough guy, it was being in the locker room and being able to go up to a guy having a hard time scoring goals and helping him out and being a buddy. Be a friend, try to work his situation out, bring the stress off him and bring an unconditional attitude in there every day no matter what. That was my job, and Babcock knew what I had done through previous teams so its nice to have him praise that because thats something they dont show on the Corsi or in the analytics. You need those guys in the locker room. There are some guys in locker rooms that would never get a mention of being the captain, but most times the guys running the show are someone you least expect. Third and fourth line slugs are organizing all the parties, organizing all the wives to be there, and theyre the vocal ones in the locker room that everyone is looking up to because someone needs to break the ice in a stressful environment like that. #77069658 / gettyimages.com And finally, because our Web Site is named BarDown, do you think you can still go bar down?Darn right I can still go bar down, every Wednesday night in mens league. I play with a great group of guys in Shelburne, and we have a blast out there. Every now and then I get lucky and get a shot bar down.Thats amazing.Im not saying it happens all the time, but its fun when it does. David Bakhtiari Jersey
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