"You always remember your first one." Those were the words of former enforcer Donald Brashear on Thursday when recalling his first NHL fight back in 1993 against the legendary Bob Probert.
"I was thinking to myself, 'OK, I'm gonna work the ladder up' and go slowly, not to start with the toughest guy, but soon enough we're playing Detroit and there's Bob Probert and I had to fight him in my first fight in Montreal," said Brashear" "It was pretty nerve-racking."
Today, Brashear is three weeks away from another first in his fighting career: his first MMA bout, which will take place on June 4 at Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City during the Ringside 11 card. His original opponent, Martin Trempe, had to pull out due to injury and the search is on for a replacement. Brashear still expects to make his MMA debut that night.
Despite having boxed in the past, Brashear decided to venture into MMA because of his interest in combat sports and the challenge in learning some of the different disciplines that goes along with being this kind of fighter.
The retired NHLer spent the winter playing in the LNAH, a semi-professional hockey league in Quebec, but MMA is his newest interest.
"I want to do it," said Brashear. "I'm going to put everything I got into it and if I do well I'm going to want to keep going. If I don't, I might want to keep going as well. At 39, I'm not going to do it for five more years, unless I'm really good and have the right opponent."
Brashear signed a one-year deal with Ringside, but according to MMAFighting.com, both sides can cut ties after June 4.
During his 16-year NHL career, Brashear faced 212 opponents and was one of the league's most feared fighters. Even with the recent spotlight on concussions, headshots and player safety, Brashear doesn't see any sort of ban on fighting on the horizon.
"It's not because of fighting," said Brashear. "It's mostly because of headshots and cheap shots from players that don't even fight. There's a lack of respect."
So take away the instigator and let the players police themselves?
"I think it's much better that way; then it becomes an intimidating game."
Brashear's last NHL suspension was during the 2009 playoffs for six games for initiating contact with Colton Orr of the New York Rangers during warm-ups and then a blindside hit to Blair Betts. The hit broke Betts' orbital bone and he missed the remainder of the series.
During the 2005-06 season, Brashear expressed his displeasure with the way the NHL changed after the lockout, saying the league catered to superstar players. He still feels the same way, especially when it comes to the way the league hands out supplemental discipline.
"You see the NHL so many times being very unfair in their decisions for their suspensions," said Brashear. "If it's a good player then they suspend them for one game or two and if it's a player like I was then they suspend him for five-to-10 games. Most of the time it's not the tough guys doing that type of thing."