Mike Vallely, the renowned skateboarding icon and action sports personality, will bring his unique brand of competitiveness to the sport of ice hockey when he competes this fall for the Danbury (CT) Whalers of the new Federal Hockey League.
An experienced competitive hockey player and a skilled ice skater, Vallely has signed a contract with the team, which will play at the Danbury Ice Arena beginning this fall (danburywhalers.com).
“Mike is a hard-nosed athlete,” said Herm Sorcher, CEO of the franchise. “He wants to play, and we want to give him the opportunity to show what he can do.”
Vallely (pronounced VAL-LA-LEE), who will celebrate his 40th birthday on June 29, is a life-long hockey fan who finally took to the ice at the age of 19. He’s played in high-level recreational league competition and a host of celebrity games, including the National Hockey League’s Celebrity All-Star Game at The Staples Center in 2002. He’s also headlined skateboard hockey demos during the NHL All-Star Weekends in Florida and Minnesota in 2003 and 2004 and remains a well-known fan of the league and its teams.
He is preparing for FHL (thefederalhockeyleague.com) play in Huntington Beach, CA, with renowned strength and conditioning coach Scot Prohaska, who works with several NHL players, including Petr Sykora, Rob Blake, Dwayne Roloson, Dominik Hasek, Ryan VandenBussche, Miroslav Satan and Michael Peca.
He is training at the Shoot 2 Score Hockey facility in San Clemente, CA, and playing weekly with ex-hockey pros of all levels at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, CA, and at the Glacial Gardens rink in Lakewood, CA.
Vallely will be the first ever professional board sport athlete to play a traditional team sport at the professional level. He is also believed to be the oldest rookie in the history of professional hockey, although that statistic is not verifiable through official records.
Vallely’s connection to hockey skyrocketed unexpectedly in November, 2009, when he attended an Anaheim Ducks game with his wife and daughter. Just as the contest ended, Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer tossed his hockey stick over the glass to Vallely’s daughter, but an adult male fan reached out and grabbed the souvenir, resulting in a fight between the two men. The altercation and its aftermath became a major news story in Southern California as the video was captured TV cameras and posted to YouTube.com, where it became a viral sensation.
Vallely was cited by law enforcement authorities, but charges were dropped, based on his justifiable defense of his daughter from the aggressive actions of the other man.
In a less serious throw-down in 2004, Vallely called Kip Brennan, then Los Angeles Kings left wing, to a squareoff on ice at the Kings’ Toyota Center practice facility. The two tangled competitively, but Brennan threw three quick punches, leaving Vallely to deal with a split lip, a black eye, and a memorable headache.
“Well, I don’t think he hit me as hard as he could, but he definitely tagged me good,” Vallely said about the 6’4, 230-pound pro athlete. At 5’10, 185-pounds, the feisty Vallely will be smaller than most of his FHL opponents.
If he makes the team, he will wear jersey #22, the number of his all-time favorite NHL player, former Hartford Whaler and New York Ranger tough guy Nick Fotiu, who called Vallely earlier this month to wish him well after hearing of his new venture.
Vallely, also known as Mike V, is considered a legend in the skateboarding world and one of the original founders of street skating.
Growing up in Edison, NJ, Vallely always felt disconnected from mainstream teenage life and sought refuge in skateboarding and punk rock music. He began to become known for his warlike approach to street skating, throwing himself above the convention within the world of skating by riding up walls, sliding across park benches and grinding down railings.
By the age of 16, Vallely earned his first sponsorship with Powell Peralta. Less than a year later, Vallely turned pro, joining the ranks of the world-renowned Bones Brigade.
His popularity grew quickly as fans gravitated towards his aggressive and pioneering style, elevating him to a level of celebrity that transcended skating.
Vallely became an ambassador for the sport, traveling around the world, including Russia, Brazil, Israel, and Africa to assert the authenticity of skateboarding as a creative pursuit and a form of self-expression.
His mainstream appeal led to acting roles in the prominent major movie releases, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “The Hangover.” He has also appeared in the successful Tony Hawk Pro Skater skateboarding video game series, and has his own television show, DRIVE, on Fuel TV. He is sponsored by skateboard manufacturer, Element.
A firm believer of punk rock music’s influence in skateboarding, Vallely is a vocal member for his rock bands, Mike V and the Rats, and Revolution Mother. Punk rock music was a big part of the skate scene in the early to late 1980s, and this genre of music continues to complement the lifestyle and spirit of skating that Vallely exemplifies.
The FHL has six franchises in key cities and plans a 60-game schedule starting in October. Charter teams in the league are located in Rome, NY; Alexandria Bay, NY; Binghamton, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Danbury, CT; and Akwesasne, Ontario. League play will continue into 2011 with playoffs and the inaugural championship series set for March.