Here’s a sentence you never figure to read in a hockey story: “It’s nice to step out of your comfort zone whether it’s writing articles for a magazine or posing in the nude.”
Yes, it has been a wonderful summer for Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul. He has been a model for ESPN’s The Magazine Body Issue, a music correspondent at Bonnaroo, one of the world’s great music festivals and a member of the jet set at the Cannes Film Festival.
But for Lupul, fun time is over.
“In the first part of the summer I was able to experience as much as possible and share it with people,” he said. “My focus now kind of shifts from the fun stuff to focusing 100 per cent on training. That means being in the gym six days a week, focusing on next year,” he said.Most recently the fun part included Bonnaroo, a four day mid-June music festival in Tennessee that features 150 acts and attracts 80,000 people.Lupul, along with longtime buddy Scottie Upshall of the Florida Panthers, has attended five Bonnaroos but this time he had a backstage pass as a correspondent for the online magazine AskMen.
It goes to show you what hockey players have long suspected: anyone, anyone can write.
“That part came fairly easily,” Lupul said. “The tougher part was instead of going to see another act having to go back to the bus and write.”
The ESPN The Magazine photo shoot wasn’t exactly entirely new ground for an NHL player. The Rangers Brad Richards and the Blue Jays Jose Bautista appeared last season in the magazine. Still, being shot with only a hockey stick, and later not even that, took some getting used to.
Lupul said he told his mother about the shoot “but I don’t think she quite knows how little I was wearing. You’re stepping, really stepping, as far as you can go, outside your comfort zone.”
The issue garners huge readership. Lupul considers it a move for posterity.
“I think one day, when I have a beer belly and I’m playing golf 20 years from now, I’ll check back on it and it will be cool to see this is what I once looked like.”
Lupul attended the Film Festival in May and dropped into a couple of the parties for which the event is famous. He spied Matt Damon and Michael Douglas at one party.
Throughout the summer, Lupul was struck by one fact. People in the music and entertainment business are fascinated by sports. “It feels like all athletes want to be artists or actors and all actors and artists want to be athletes,“ he said.
And yes, he was asked about the Leafs Game 7 loss to Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
It is, he said, still painful.
“That’s a game that you will never shake off. If we win the Stanley Cup next year I will still feel that was a game and an opportunity I will not forget. It’s not something you get over but it’s something our team should look to, gain knowledge from and grow from.”