Eric Quitugua 2017-08-23 14:23:43
Fire on the Ice A Dallas attorney keeps his fervor for hockey alive. For attorney Michael Aigen, when the conversation isn’t surrounding commercial litigation, it’s about hockey. The New Yorker grew up watching the Islanders dynasty in the ’80s and is a diehard fan who often likens opposing counsel to the New York Rangers, his beloved team’s rival. In college, Aigen held down the post as a goalie for hockey clubs at Tufts University and then at George Washington University Law School. Today, he spends much of his life outside the courtroom on the ice rink as both a player for the Lackey Hershman Blazers of the Senior Stars Hockey League and as a coach for the Dallas Stars Metro Hockey League. Now with three sons who also play, he’s enjoying passing along his love for the sport. What position did you play growing up? Goalie. I started off playing different positions. As I’ve gotten older and played in men’s leagues, I think my body is rejecting the idea of playing goalie. Because of knee issues, back issues, and hip issues, I’ve switched to forward. Now I can try to score some goals instead of trying to stop them. Tell me about your coaching. My dad got me involved in coaching younger kids. When I moved to Dallas, I ran into a friend I grew up with who played minor league hockey and runs most of the high-level travel leagues here. He asked me if I wanted to get involved, so for a few years, I coached travel teams and high school hockey. Now that my kids are playing, I’m coaching again. We spend a lot of time at the hockey rink. It’s always a better idea to have someone else coach your kids, but I usually get suckered in when it’s hard finding people with experience. I tell myself it’s probably better for the relationship with my kids if I don’t coach, but I seem to do it anyway. How do you navigate coaching your own kids? My dad had a rule when he coached. He was a yeller and a screamer, but when the game was over, so was his coaching. He was never anything but supportive once we got to the car. People were surprised when they heard that because they thought he’d let me have it. But it was the opposite. I try to do what my dad did, so as soon as a game or practice is over and I’m in the locker room, I’m a dad again—and I only have positive things to say. I don’t know if it works yet. I’ll let you know in about 20 years if my kids are still talking to me. Do any games stand out? It was the first time my sons played a game. I love hockey and it’s a passion of mine, but you never know if your kids are going to like it. From the first time they actually played, I saw how much they enjoyed it. I hoped they would love hockey as much as I do, and so far they have. That’s my best moment, the follow-up being their first goals. I definitely remember those too. How does hockey cross over into your life as a lawyer? Part of being a lawyer, especially a litigator, is trying to communicate and simplify complex issues. This is good for being an attorney, but it’s also essential for coaching. If I can explain how to do a backwards crossover to a 6-year-old, I should be able to explain to a judge why my position is correct in a simple matter. There are definitely times when I get a blank stare from the player and a blank stare from the judge. For both it means I have to find a new way to communicate. What do you get out of hockey? The rink is where I’m always happy, and at this point in my life, it’s a great place to get exercise and socialize with friends. My goal for every game is to not get injured—and score some goals. It’s certainly not as competitive as it used to be, but it’s something I love doing. Coaching is a good way to spend time with my kids and perform a little community service. Hockey has done so much for me in my life, whether it was giving me discipline or a path forward. It’s nice to be able to volunteer and see all these kids grow. Some of them have been on the ice for three or four years and are becoming good hockey players. I like being able to give back to the sport that’s given a lot to me. If he’s not handling litigation, Michael Aigen is on the ice playing hockey or coaching his three sons. Pictured here are Aigen with 4-year-old Zarley (left) and 2-year-old Ziggy.
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