“Mayday, mayday!” screamed the announcer calling the play at an OJL hockey game that fateful November evening. It was an away game for the Thunder Bay Wolves, visiting Northern Ontario rivals the Sudbury Stampeders. Winger Mason Green had picked up a tape-to-tape feed from his centerman and shot down the ice, easily gaining the zone. He fended off the lone defenseman with one hand as he curled around the back of the net. The Stampeders’ goalie slid across, post to post, but Green flicked the puck up, over the goalie’s shoulder and into the back of the net.
The name of the goalie, the centerman, and the d-man have since been forgotten. But the nickname stuck. Even now, after seven years playing for the IHA’s LA Knights, the nickname is apt: Green’s scoring prowess puts him in an elite club in the most elite league in the world. He’s already the stuff of legends among the league’s rookies.
“It’s weird, yeah,” Green told Sportica staff. “Like, you walk in on the first day of camp or whatever, you’re just doing your job, and you’re like ‘hi, I’m Mason’ and they’re all, ‘I know who you are, you’re Mayday, you’re amazing.””
Not everyone is a fan, Green admits. “No,” he says, “the goalies, the d-men. They don’t really like guys like me. I make their job tough, right? It’s not like they’re bad at what they do. Guys like me make ’em look that way, right?”
“I guess the opposite team never really likes you though,” he admits thoughtfully. “You have this grudging respect for the guys on the other team. You admit they’re good. They have to be. They wouldn’t be in this league otherwise.”
As the new IHA season kicks off in Tinseltown, we caught up with Green to get some predictions on what the star forward got up to over the summer, his training regimen, and what the new season holds for him.
Sportica: So you’re back in LA after four months. You took four months off.
Mason Green: Well, yeah, like you never want your season to be over that early. It’s a long grind, eighty-two games from October until April but when it gets there, y’know, you don’t want it to end. But we didn’t make the playoffs, so I guess we got extra summer vacation. I guess that’s the trade-off.
S: Right. What would you do if the Knights made a playoff run?
MG: Aw, man, like I don’t know. It seems so far away. We don’t think about that kind of stuff, really, like. April’s forever away now, you don’t think about it.
S: Never? Not even in a passing, I-really-hope kind of way?
MG: Nah. It’s kinda this thing, like, we don’t talk about it. But you don’t think that way. It’s bad luck. You just gotta take it one game at a time. Eighty-two games in a season, you can’t get thinking about what’s gonna happen in April, where you’re gonna be four, five months from now. You gotta play this game. Then you play the next one.
S: So what does it take to get ready for an eighty-two game season?
MG: Four months off. [laughs] No, but really. It’s a long season, it grinds you down. I sometimes feel bad for the guys who do get deep into the playoffs. It’s worth it, but they’re not as rested, camp’s that much closer. They get less time to recover.
S: You’re talking about recovery. Is rest an important aspect of a hockey player’s training regimen?
MG: Just mine, ’cause I’m lazy. [laughs] It’s really important when you’re playing an eighty-two game season. That’s long-haul. You get to about mid-December, January, and you’ve already been playing, what, three months, and you’re just thinking, how the hell am I gonna make it to the end of the season? That’s another reason we don’t think about April. You just gotta focus on right now.
S: It sounds like there’s a lot of mental strength needed.
MG: I guess that’s the thing, we don’t get much credit for it. You know, hockey has a bad rap, we’re just a bunch of goons out there smashing each other into the boards, beating each other up. A lot of people think hockey’s a really rough, a really physical sport. We don’t get much credit for the mental toughness it takes to go out there and play every night.
S: Hockey is a very physical sport though.
MG: Oh, it is, for sure. We are a buncha goons, we do beat each other up. That’s part of the challenge, staying healthy enough to make it through.
The goalies, the d-men. They don’t really like guys like me. I make their job tough, right? It’s not like they’re bad at what they do. Guys like me make ’em look that way, right?”
S: You’ve been injured before.
MG: Yeah, it sucks. I got my collarbone broken on a heavy shot, we were playing the Falcons. It was a Hank Patterson shot. He’s retired now–he wasn’t, like, a fifty-goal scorer or anything, but we all knew he had a shot on him. Like, he had a rep–if Patsy has the puck, you stay outta the way. I didn’t get out of the way fast enough.
S: That’s not something that’s usually said about you–that you’re not fast enough. You’re considered one of the fastest skaters in the league.
MG: Confession: I went through a phase where I wanted to be a speed skater. [laughs] No, I’m joking–I couldn’t do what those guys do. It’s phenomenal. I like watching them at the Olympics, the blades on the skates. Like, guys think we’re brave, we’re crazy for going out and doing what we do, falling all over the place with blades strapped to our feet.
S: Right, but it is dangerous. There have been incidents where things have happened to players because of the skate blades.
MG: Of course. I’m not making light of it. We all take it really serious, like, we gotta watch what we’re doing. Guys get hurt all the time–and there’s always the danger. But it’s a good thing we don’t wear speed skates.
S: Question is, would you be faster with them?
MG: To be honest, I don’t think I’d wanna skate any faster than I do. At the last All-Stars, I think they clocked me doing like, thirteen, fourteen seconds around the rink. One full lap. I dunno how fast that is like in–miles, kilometers. Something. But it’s gotta be fast, right?
S: Something like 20 miles an hour, maybe.
MG: Okay, so like, slow if we’re talking about cars, but for a person–that’s pretty fast. Thing is, you gotta stop, right? So you get going down the ice, and then there’s the boards. You gotta stop. If you don’t, well, the boards stop you.
S: That’s one of the reasons the IHA has instituted new rules about icing this season. There’s been a lot of concern about players skating after the puck to get an icing call or get it waved off.
MG: Yeah. You never like to watch those replays–the ones where guys go down awkwardly, get knocked into the boards and stuff. But yeah, we’ve had a lot of guys get hurt that way, and for, for no good reason really. And with all this stuff coming out about head injuries and stuff–we gotta play smarter. Some guys don’t make it to 30, y’know, they get hurt. Real talented guys, and then their career’s over.
S: You’re in your seventh season with the Knights now. How does that feel?
MG: [laughs] Oh, what, really? Seven seasons? Yeah, I guess it has been that long. I guess it sneaks up on you. I don’t feel like I’ve been around the league that long. I don’t feel like I’ve played seven seasons.
S: So does that mean we can look forward to plenty more seasons of Mayday-style hockey?
MG: I hope so! Maybe another seven … maybe more. A lot of guys, we’re seeing guys with twenty-year careers, some guys are going longer than that.
S: So you’re going to stick around?
MG: For a while, I hope. Yeah, I got a few good seasons in me yet. Y’know, I think it’s something you just know. Like, some guys, they know, they don’t have it like they used to. They don’t get excited any more, it’s tiring. And it is tiring–like we said, a real physical game. So it takes its toll and I think, I think you must get to a point where you just see it like another job, another grind. And where’s the fun in that? I think that’s when you know, you know it’s time to hang up your skates.
S: But you’re not there yet.
MG: No way. I’m only twenty-five. Like I said, I hope to stick around a few more seasons, at least. I mean, you can’t predict anything–you can’t even predict how a game’s gonna go, never mind a season, your career. It’s hockey–anything can happen.
S: So, does that mean you can’t give us some predictions about the upcoming season?
MG: I can give you a couple: We’re gonna play eighty-two games, for one.
S: All right, but how about your pick for player of the year?
MG: I’d say myself, but … that sounds vain, so. I dunno. There are a lot of good guys in this league. There’s a ton of talent. There’s a reason it’s the best league on earth. It’s a really elite group of guys. It’s humbling, really, to play with them. And I’m not talking just about guys like Volkov and Tremblay, but like … everyone. The guys who don’t make the highlight reel every night or even ever. It’s amazing. They’re so dedicated, so passionate. I think that’s important–even more important than talent.
S: It’s important to be passionate on the ice, a love of the game. But hockey’s your job. What do you get up to in your spare time?
MG: Uh, that’s a really good question. We don’t get a lot of spare time, during the season, really. We travel around a lot. It’s great, ’cause you get to see so much, but it’s never really enough. Like, you’re in a city for maybe a day or two, and you see like, the inside of a hotel and the rink, and maybe the airport. And when we’re home, we have practice and training, and sometimes back-to-back games. You can’t really afford to slack off.
S: Sure, but what about hobbies? Surely you need some downtime? You can’t think about hockey 24/7.
MG: I could try. [laughs]
S: All right, but would you want to?
MG: Nah, there’s other stuff. Like, hockey’s great and all, but you’ve got to leave it in the locker room sometimes. Y’know, when you had a bad game or you’re in a scoring slump or whatever. You can’t let it eat at you.
S: So how do you get away from it all?
MG: For me, it’s music. I love my guitars. Any time I need to unwind, I just sit down, start strumming.
S: Did you take lessons or were you self-taught?
MG: With the guitar, yeah, I’m self-taught. But I took piano for years, from when I was about seven or so, I guess. I started taking lessons before my mom got sick. It was her thing, she really wanted me and my sister to know how to play an instrument. So I kept with it, after she passed away, to, like, honor her memory, I guess, a little bit. Something like that. I can’t really explain.
S: Your mother passed away when you were young. That’s a huge part of a lot of the charity work you do now.
MG: Yeah, it’s a huge thing for me. Like, she died when I was pretty young, so I basically grew up without her. And, when you’re a kid, it’s rough, right? You don’t understand these things.
S: So you do a lot of charity work for families who have members undergoing cancer treatments.
MG: Mm, yeah. ’cause that was a huge thing when my mom was sick. My sister and I didn’t really get to see her a bunch–and like, I get it, she was really sick near the end. I don’t know if I could have handled it. But there were other times, but they said no, you’re too young, but I think it was more they didn’t know how to handle kids there, in the hospital. And there was the added challenge that she was at a regional hospital, eventually she had to get flown to like Toronto or something, one of the big centers, to get treatment. And we went, maybe like once or twice, because we couldn’t really afford it. So we didn’t get to spend as much time with her as we wanted to. [pause] And, y’know, I know there are a lot of families struggling with that same thing. They know their loved one is really sick, and, y’know, you just worry about it. Even as a seven-year-old, I worried about it–will this be the last time I see my mom? And y’know, you don’t need to worry about that. You shouldn’t have to worry if you can go see them, if you can afford it, or think about what will happen between now and the next time you can go. You shouldn’t have to think, “what if they’re suffering and they’re all alone?” So, really, that’s why I do the charity work, I really think we can make a difference.
S: The Knights are very supportive of players doing charity work like this.
MG: Yeah, the team’s great. The Knights, they organize a lot of charity events in the community, and the guys, we all support it. Y’know, there’s nothing like helping bring a smile to someone’s face. And we’ll go to Don–he’s our community events coordinator–and be like, hey, I got this idea, and he’s always up to hear about a new idea.
S: Does he ever shoot anything down?
MG: [laughs] Oh, God, like all the time. He’s always shooting down my ideas. Last week, I told him about this charity drag race or something, and he was like, “Mayday, if you wanna break your neck racing cars, you do it on your own time.”
S: Rumor has it that you’ve got a pretty nice collection of cars.
MG: Ah, yeah. I guess I’m turning into a bit of a gearhead? I don’t know, you see a nice-looking car, it’s like seeing a hot chick walk by. You know, you kinda let your sunglasses slide to get a better look.
S: You’ve been tied to a lot of women in LA. Is there anyone right now?
MG: Well, you know, there’s always rumors, right? But no, there’s no one right now. I’m pretty single.
S: Some of the rumors, they’ve put you with women like Aria Venti, Patty Kerry, and Melisende. Do you think you have a type?
MG: Aria Venti? Really? What, isn’t she like, what, sixteen?
S: She’s nineteen.
MG: Wow. I thought she was way younger than that. Good looking girl, but I think you have to be in show biz, right?
S: So what do you look for in a woman?
MG: A little older than nineteen. [laughs] I dunno, really, like. A great smile is always attractive. And, like, I guess it’s the eyes. Y’know? Like some people really like blondes or redheads or whatever, but for me, it’s the eyes. You look someone in the eyes and you just instantly know if it’s working or not.
S: And how do you know it’s working?
MG: Like, I guess it’s cheesy–but there’s like a spark. You can look at someone and think yeah, this is going somewhere. But you can just as easily look at them and think no, there’s nothing there.
S: It sounds very intuitive.
MG: I guess it is, a little, yeah. But I think most athletes are like that–like, we just react. We talk a lot about on-ice vision and smart play and the like, but a lot of it just comes down to gut reaction. Like, you just know where your linemate is, you know where that pass is coming from.
S: People talk a lot about chemistry between certain players too.
I’m not talking just about guys like Volkov and Tremblay, but like … everyone. The guys who don’t make the highlight reel every night or even ever. It’s amazing. They’re so dedicated, so passionate. I think that’s important–even more important than talent.”
MG: Yeah, it’s really important. Sometimes, guys just click together on a line, almost like they’re reading each others’ minds. It just … works. And sometimes, you have to give it a bit, let it gel, let guys really find their rhythm. But sometimes, it’s not gonna work and you know that pretty early on.
MG: It’s instinctual.
S: So finding “the one” is a lot like finding the right linemate?
MG: [laughs] I guess! I guess it’s a bit different though–you’re going to be linemates for life. There’s no trades after, no coaches putting you on line-blender, mixing things up.
S: All right, one more question before we wrap things up. What’s your prediction for the Knights’ season?
MG: I already told you, we’re gonna play eighty-two games! [laughs] Seriously. I can’t predict anything–it’s hockey. We’re gonna have to see how the season unfolds, see what happens. We got a good group this year, so we’re all pretty excited, excited to get out there and play, to show the fans some good hockey.