Jimmy Bonneau was 17 years old when he threw his first punch. It was his first fight and it was with a teammate on the ice. It was the biggest beating he's ever handed out. It wouldn't be his last.
"It was all me. He didn't land a punch," says the 6' 3, 225-lb. French-Canadian. "I was nervous. I was shaking." The words sound soft coming out of his mouth, his English still a bit awkward and spoken with a distinctly Quebecois accent. "I wasn't overly thinking. I knew what I had to do."
Bonneau wasn't a fighter by nature, but on that day in 2002, he knew if he wanted to make the Montreal Rockets' roster he would need to show the coaches he was someone they couldn't ignore. A 10th-round pick in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (the "Q"), Bonneau, a forward, had to prove he was worthy. Just before the draft, he told coaches he wanted to be more than just a tough guy, more than just a big body on skates and his stock dropped. They looked at Bonneau and saw not his skills, but his size. They saw a potential fighter, an enforcer, someone who would know his role and not think twice about taking a punch to the face or pummeling an opponent.
Bonneau realized that to be more than just an average player, he had to fight.