CHIP: I can't believe that hockey players play Xbox hockey.
MAE: It seems that a lot of professional athletes play video games. I guess it's because they go on a lot of road trips and there's nothing else to do besides play video games.
CHIP: And sleep with each other.
Adrian Aucoin trash talks! And he loves Tuomo Ruutu, haha.
Reporter trounced by Blackhawks captain in Xbox hockey showdown
By CHRIS JOHNSTON
TORONTO (CP) - A small wave of panic washes over me just moments after the opening faceoff.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Adrian Aucoin and I are playing the video game NHL 2K6 online and it's clear from the get-go that I'm about to be exposed for what I am - an eight-bit Nintendo expert struggling to keep pace in the flashy fast-paced Xbox universe.
"Luckily for you, we're not playing on the ice so you've got a chance to beat me," Aucoin says from Chicago over the Xbox Live headset as we select our teams.
After opening the game with a flurry of chances, I doubt even he believes that.
Aucoin, naturally, has decided to play with his own Blackhawks, a team that made some significant off-season acquisitions - including him - but has missed the playoffs the last two years NHL hockey was played.
I've gone with the Calgary Flames, who made a run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004 and boast solid goaltending in Miikka Kiprusoff and star power in Jarome Iginla.
Aucoin can't believe a gamer in Toronto would choose not to play with the local Maple Leafs. When he scores the game's first goal on a suspect shot by Rene Bourque, he doesn't hesitate to remind me of my choice.
"Ed Belfour would've had that one," he says of the Maple Leafs goaltender. "It could be a long night."
It's times like this one you try really hard to remind yourself that it's only a game - a video game, no less. You want to laugh off verbal jabs from your opponent and smile no matter the outcome. You want to be the bigger person.
But I can't. I want to win.
Despite my early fear and the lopsided shot totals, I actually believed winning was a possibility after escaping the first period down just 1-0.
It lasts only 21 more seconds. That's the amount of game time that elapses before Aucoin uses one of NHL 2K6's fancy deke moves with forward Tuomo Ruutu to go up 2-0.
"The future of the Chicago Blackhawks," Aucoin says with joy while I tried to figure out what combination of buttons had produced such a lethal scoring manoeuvre.
Aucoin, who has an injured groin and has played in just three NHL games this season, has clearly been spending some time in front of his Xbox.
While in the offensive zone, he cycles the puck and looks for open shots. He throws bone-crashing body checks. And he seems to know every fancy deke move the 2K Sports programmers dreamed up.
My strategy is more modest. Every time I get the puck I do my best to skate end to end and set up a one-timer. It was my patented move more than 15 years ago on Nintendo's Blades of Steel - the first video game I ever owned.
Back then, there were no coaching strategies, line changes or players who resembled the real thing. Aucoin has been forced to adjust.
"I've spent too much time off the ice getting beat by my three-year-old (son Kyle)," says the 32-year-old father of three.
After further goals by Tyler Arnason and Eric Daze, it's clear the beating is being placed on me now.
Trailing 4-0 heading into the third period, my focus shifts to trying to end Nikolai Khabibulin's shutout and salvage a respectable outcome. Aucoin, a defenceman, has taken to trying to score with his own player.
Every time Chicago's No. 33 gets the puck, Aucoin sends him up ice, stick-handling around my helpless defenders. But no matter what he does, Aucoin can't solve Kiprusoff.
He adds third-period goals from Arnason and Curtis Brown for an easy 6-0 victory, Khabibulin holds on to the shutout despite some decent late chances by me, but Aucoin fails to register a point with his digital self.
"All right, I'm 1-0," he says afterwards, before moving on to face some real competition as part of Xbox live's game with fame series.
I laugh and wish him luck, knowing that he'll probably be feeling like I do when the Xbox live gamers are through with him.