By Christa Turner
COLUMBUS, Ga. – Considering Mike Lee’s enforcer reputation with the Columbus Cottonmouths, it’s easy to picture him whaling away on a punching bag at a gym or jumping in the ring for a few rounds.
Boxing and hockey fit together like peanut butter and chocolate. And Lee spent time in the ring pounding opponents — very similar to his time on the ice.
But when Lee needs to let out some frustration, he doesn’t think Mohammed Ali. Clay is what he pictures — pottery clay that is.
Something that started as a lark in high school became an off-ice passion for Lee, a pleasing way to unwind.
“I’m awesome at pottery,” said the 6-foot, 230-pound right wing. “I took it for an easy class, but then I was watching the stuff the teacher did and it was unreal. I took it every semester.”
>From vases to lamps to bowls, Lee works the craft, molding different projects. Despite few opportunities to practice while in Columbus, pottery remains a passion for Lee.
“When I’m doing pottery, there’s not one thing I’m thinking about,” Lee said. “I get completely lost in it.”
And if that doesn’t work, there’s boxing, a sport Lee pursued when younger.
“The thing about boxing is it makes you look for different things,” Lee said. “You can see if they’re going to swing or throw a bomb. And boxers are the most conditioned athletes, hands down.”
The boxing has come in handy during Lee’s stint with the Cottonmouths. Lee is quick to toss his gloves down and enter any fray. He has 228 penalty minutes, including five 10-minute misconducts and 18 majors, one gross misconduct and three game misconducts.
“I go around protecting guys if I have to,” Lee said.
One thing Lee isn’t happy with is his offensive production. He’s not expected to score much, but owns only one goal this season.
“Stat-wise, it hasn’t been a good year,” he said.
Lee’s interest in hockey is surprising as well, since both his older brothers grew up playing basketball.
“I came home one day and saw hockey on the TV and asked my mom if I could try that,” Lee said.
Lee, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, loves everything about his home state. At the beginning of the season, Lee requested the No. 49 in honor of his state — the 49th in the union.
“It’s awesome,” Lee said. “I love everything about it. In the summers, it stays light like 18 hours a day. It’s beautiful.”
Lee said he loves the outdoors, especially hiking and fishing.
“Fishing is the main thing,” he said. “King salmon, halibut. About 20 hockey players that I grew up with go back every year and fish together.”
Fishing, boxing, pottery — with those kinds of hobbies, relaxation is no problem for Lee.