Corey Hirsch defends NHL players' right to enjoy off days

Mitch Marner/ Instagram

Corey Hirsch is a former NHL goaltender who spent parts of seven seasons with the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, and Dallas Stars.

As far as the recent fishing charter that the young and naive Toronto Maple Leafs players went on in Florida, and the subsequent spanking the next evening, the only crime I see is that the ding-dongs posted it on social media. I can picture the look on Lou Lamoriello's face after learning of this, and I'm assuming all Leafs players will be banned from social media for eternity.

What a day of fishing 🐠🐟

A post shared by Mitch Marner (@marner_93) on

Ahh to be young, rich, and in the NHL. I'm sorry to tell any critics that the players have every right to do as they please on an off day. Contrary to popular belief, they're not on lockdown, and aren't sitting in their rooms reading Muscle & Fitness and sports psychology books, or having push-up contests. No, they're human beings, and when in places like Boston, New York, and Florida, they have every right to, and should, take advantage of what the world has to offer.

Russ Courtnall was one of my favorite people to play with. He believed that life was to be lived to the fullest and playing in the NHL should be enjoyed in every capacity. He always took players under his wing and showed them what living life in the NHL was all about, and he went out of his way to make sure you made the most of it.

My first experience playing golf at the prestigious Sherwood Country Club in L.A. was with Russ, and, yes, it was on an off day. Walking in the men's locker room there was surreal. Lockers had the names of former American presidents, famous movie stars, and some of the greatest professional athletes to ever play the game. Wayne Gretzky also lived on the course. I actually remember seeing O.J. Simpson's name on a locker, and when Alex Mogilny became a member at Sherwood years later, I'm pretty sure it was O.J. Simpson's old locker they gave him.

It was there I got to play golf with actor Jason Bateman, who was as bad a golfer as I was. Then, walking out to the parking lot, Meatloaf was walking in. Are you kidding me? It was Meatloaf! Russ looks at him, shakes his hand, and says:

"Hi Meat, this is my friend Corey." How awesome is that?

There are so many great memories. From going to a taping of the sitcom "Married With Children" and meeting Al Bundy, to hitting Russian restaurants in New York City with Mogilny. Truly amazing.

On another trip years later, a couple guys on the team that will remain nameless set up a side trip to the Playboy Mansion. So, yes, I have set foot in the Playboy Mansion, and have been to the grotto. It's definitely not what you think - it was a day trip, very low-key. No clothing was shed and no alcohol was consumed. A playmate that was staying there gave us a tour of the grounds. Hef showed up a few hours later in one of his famous red smoking jackets, and we all got a picture on the front lawn with him. At the time, the mansion was in desperate need of an interior renovation; it still looked and smelled like the '70s. I'm hoping Hef got around to doing it.

So many stories, so many more great memories. Twenty years later, do I remember the scores of any of those games the next day? Not a chance.

I do, however, remember the friendships I made, and the teammates I bonded with.

When I was lying in my bed sick with OCD, not wanting to go on, those teammates and those memories are what kept me going. So my advice to the Toronto Maple Leafs players? Enjoy all the NHL has to offer, my friends, it's a great game and will be over before you know it.

Just don't post it on social media.

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Corey Hirsch defends NHL players' right to enjoy off days
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