Hockey is one of the most personal sports we play today, and athletes are rarely as up close and personal as they do out there on the ice. There are almost countless opportunities for players to develop deep-set emotions towards one another. The feelings can will last for years. Between fights, trash-talk, grudges and regular play, you never know what will happen in hockey. Today on Monday Mashup, we’ll be looking at one of the greatest examples of this to ever happen on the ice: the case of Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty.

Mac and the Turtle

Claude “Turtle” Lemieux was famously one of the most agitating and antagonistic players in hockey during his career, and rightly so. In 1996, Lemieux’s Colorado Avalanche were playing against the Detroit Red Wings, and during the game Lemieux took a cheap shot against Kris Draper. The shot sent him into the hospital and out of the game.

Now, this may seem like something that happens relatively often in ice hockey; it’s a hard sport, after all and people get hurt all the time. However, Darren “Mac” McCarty remembered what happened for an entire year, and Lemieux was well aware of this. On March 26, 1997, the two teams were playing again. Turtle was back to his old ways of being rough and irritating to the Red Wings side.

Eventually, Mac decided he had had enough and went after Lemieux to get revenge for his friend who had been hurt the year prior. However, Turtle knew why Mac was chasing him. He wanted to avoid Mac at all costs, so he assumed the fetal position on the ice. This event is what earned Lemieux is now-famous nickname of “Turtle” and created the widely used phrase in ice hockey “going turtle.”

Going Forward

Little did Turtle know that one event could have consequences a whole year later. Darren McCarty caused Lemieux to carry a different identity for the rest of his career, all because of feelings he kept for over a year. These grudges, feuds and feelings carry over across seasons, causing old wounds to open when you face those came rivals again. It is important to remember that the emotions the players are feeling are very real out there on the ice as we enter new seasons and playoffs.

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