Cody Sol: Cincinnati, Indy and Kalamazoo are probably the three worst, for sure. I know going in ahead of time it's going to happen. It's the same thing when they come here when their guys are in the penalty box after my fights. The fans are pretty hostile to the guy I fight against, too. What goes around comes around, and that's why I enjoy playing here. The fans are pretty ruthless to the away teams, too, which is good.
NS: Has this always been the case?
CS: Most times. Even growing up, I was the biggest guy on the ice and when we started having body contact, I was a foot and a half taller than a lot of the kids. Any time someone would hit me, all the opposing parents would cheer. I was like, I'm 11 or 12 years old and I'm being booed against. If I head hunt a kid, everyone gets mad because I'm hitting people. It's been the story of my life, so I just kind of get used to it.
NS: Do you even hear things on the road?
CS: I've heard things in Kalamazoo because they have the low glass. They call me a goon, but I'm not exactly sure what that means. Sometimes the fans don't really understand fully what the role of fighting is in hockey. The guys who fight against me understand that code among tough guys. You play your role and do what you have to. You step up when you have to.
NS: Do you ever realize they are booing you or do you forget about it?
CS: In warm-ups you can hear it a little bit, but during a game you are so zoned in and focused on the game, even some of my buddies will ask afterward if I heard them, and I never do. I only focus on inside the walls and what you are doing. Everything outside the glass is just a blur to you. You have no space in your head to be focusing on that.
NS: Now one grows up wanting to be the villain, do they?
CS: I was a pretty laid back, a pretty soft kid growing up. I didn't start fighting until I was 17 years old. My second year of junior they said, you are a big boy and if you don't find an edge or find that toughness to your game, you aren't going very far in hockey.
NS: So you got stereotyped.
CS: It helped me get to where I was. I got drafted with seven points and 120 PIMs. If I had seven points and 10 PIMS, I don't think I would have been drafted. It has paved the way for me.
NS: Do you feed off the negativity?
CS: At home I feed off it for sure with the crowd and the fights. On the road, too, especially in Kalamazoo the fans are all over me in warm-ups. It kind of puts a little something in the back of my head that I want to try extra hard to put it back down their throats, just to let them know that what they are doing is not helping but it's actually encouraging me.
NS: When you got kicked out in Indy (on Feb. 4), you were waving your hand around.
CS: I did the same thing earlier this year in Missouri, too. Everyone has boiling point when fans are all over you, especially when they are winning, too, I like to give it back to them. It's kind of like we are zoo animals because they can give it to us. Once you are inside the glass, they can say whatever they want, but once we're outside the glass it's like they don't want to come up to you at all.
NS: It's part of your personality on the ice not necessarily off the ice, right?
CS: It's not like I have a switch on the ice, but I kind of live two different lives, on the ice and off. I think I've been in 145 fights on the ice, but I haven't been in one fight off the ice. When I fight on the ice, I serve five minutes and I'm done, but off the ice if I fight then I spend the night in jail. I don't need that.
NS: That's what's funny because the toughest guys on the ice are always the absolute nicest guys off the ice or away from the rink. You've always been first-class that way. It's like you leave it at the locker room door.
CS: On the ice I can be the bad guy, but I was raised a good kid and I like to bring that into the locker room. I like to be a jel guy just sticking up for my teammates. I don't look at myself as an enforcer, but more as a sheriff.
NS: Isn't part of the hair and the beard trying to stand out?
CS: It's kind of playing the role, but I always have a baby face. If I shave the beard and the hair, I'll look like an 18-year-old kid again. It's more for the role I play, and I have a lot of fans who come up to me and say they love the hair and the beard.
NS: Do you cut your hair and beard in the summer?
CS: No. I keep it pretty long. Now that the man bun has come back into style I can rock that. I think I'm going to grow it out from now until the end of the summer and then donate it to cancer research to honor my cousin who passed away last year. Just little things like that to help out.
NS: You have really played well this year.
CS: I was given an opportunity early, and I took advantage of it. The injury didn't help, but it's awesome to see guys like Curtis Leonard, Dan Milan and Jason Binkley step up and play some big minutes. That's what you need as a team, knowing every guy can fill in each role.
NS: Now you have a cheek fracture. Have you ever been seriously hurt fighting?
CS: Now with with the face fracture, it is what it is, but I've been fighting for ten years and this is the first that got me. I've gotten punched in the nose a couple of times and gotten a couple of black eyes, but that's it.
NS: You didn't set out to be a villain. Nobody does, right?
CS: In Saginaw (juniors) I fought to protect my teammates and stuff. In Kitchener I kind of tapered off the fighting it bit, but it came back my first couple of years of pro. I came to Fort Wayne and it's an old-school town and they like blue-collar hockey. I enjoy that part of it. It's just the adrenaline rush and the highs I get from fighting and the crowd cheering me on after. I tell my parents, I'm never going to ever have that when I'm done playing. When I'm 42 years old and sitting at a desk or coaching minor hockey, I'm never going to get that high of the fans cheering me on. I'm just cherish it for now. I also love it when I score a goal, I love the cheering. It's just that adrenaline rush I get from it.
NS: Maybe someday your kids will replace that.
CS: Until the next thing in life that comes along, for now this is what I do and I love doing it.
NS: How long do you want to play?
CS: As long as I can. I love the game and the lifestyle. I work with my dad in the summer, and he's a painter. He's done it since I was a kid, he's self-employed, he works every day 8-to-5, and my brother works for him, too. It's a grind. It's a different lifestyle than this. Then I watch Jamie Schaafsma and Nicole and the kids, and I see how cool it is to see Sutter come out on the ice with us. It's almost like a son to all of us. We're all a bunch of uncles to him. I think it would be so cool to have my own kids and do that with them. I'd love that opportunity.
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.