The Ice Garden has a series, “Rink Ink,” which features various hockey players’ tattoos. A form of self-expression, tattoos provide unique insights into the players’ lives — their mottos, their beliefs, their motivations, their interests. For this installment, The Ice Garden spoke with two-time Olympian and retired Buffalo Beaut, Brianne McLaughlin.
Tell us about how you decided to get your tattoo!
I've always kind of toyed around with the idea of getting [a tattoo]. I'm not a huge tattoo person, but my family and I thought that we could take a trip to Ireland together and get something. That obviously never happened. After the first Olympics, I was really jacked up to get the Olympic rings, but it wasn’t just something I was going to get by myself. I wanted it to be with my team and have that memory of getting that together. That never really happened, and I forgot about the whole idea. Even after the last Olympics, it wasn’t really high on my agenda anymore. We lost, so as cool as the Olympics were, to me, and that sounds funny, but it's not the best memory. We lost.
After we won with the Beauts, it wasn't just [that] we won a championship, but it was the end of my career and something that I’ve loved my entire my life. It's the only thing that's mattered - playing hockey, and [I] struggled with that all year. [I was] excited to move on, but then [I was] also saying goodbye to hockey. To end on a championship was pretty cool — probably the best way to go out in the situation I was in. We were all partying on the way home, and everyone was like let's go get tattoos! The three of us, [Ashley Vesci, Kelley Steadman, and myself], being from Pittsburgh, we got back, and it was like let's just drive back to Pittsburgh.
It was 7:30 in the morning, and we were exhausted when we got home. We didn’t think everybody was going to actually do it. We have a GroupMe and a group Snapchat going, and all of a sudden the next morning and the afternoon we were getting all these pictures of people getting tattoos. We're like “Aw man, we missed it!” We had planned a get-together, just the three of us, to go out and go downtown and kind of celebrate our championship — just the Pittsburgh crew. As the story goes from Vesci, her tattoo guy was two doors down and said he could fit us in whenever we were done, so we went over there and Kelley bailed on us, so when we got home I sharpied one on her leg and that was that.
The drawing looks good!
You couldn't even tell right? She goes, now I kind of want one.
How did you know you wanted it on your ankle?
I don’t know if I did. That was part of what held me back about getting the rings after 2014. I wasn't completely sure where I wanted to put it when everybody was getting theirs, so I was like “Eh, hold off.” But then, it was do it or don't when it was the three of us, so I had to make a decision or else I was never going to do it. [The artist] was like “Where do you want it?” and I was like “Put it right there.” Nobody in my family really has tattoos. There wasn’t a big reason. I didn’t want it to be somewhere that you could see all the time, so I think that right down by my ankle was somewhere you could see it, and I could show it off if I want to but also not.
Do you plan on getting another? Perhaps one if you win a sniping competition?
That is in my plan — 2018 skills competition!
We'll see. If you asked me a year ago if I would ever have a Buffalo Beauts tattoo, I would say probably not, but that happened. My mom still kind of wants one someday, so I think if she ever said, “Hey! We're going to get this together,” I'll be like “oh okay.” As of right now, no plans to get anything else.
As your first tattoo, were you nervous or scared that it was going to hurt?
For me the anticipation for seven years of kind of wanting one, I was excited, and it was a perfect situation. [Getting this tattoo] was what I wanted - it means something to me, and I’m doing it with my friends. That was my two key points I wanted to accomplish, so I wasn’t ever going to just walk into a shop and get one. I wanted to do that with my friends, so I was excited about it. There was maybe twice when I was like [the artist] can stop whatever [he’s] doing there, but it wasn’t too bad. Vesci has like 30 of them, so she was able to give me the rundown of exactly what it was going to feel like.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first?
If I were to give any advice, I got my first tattoo at 29, and I guess somewhat thought about it. I have a lot of friends that had not thought about it, or got it when they were younger, and most of those they regret. I would say that with it being permanent, that it's something that’s probably going to be a part of your life for a long time. Make sure it’s in the right place - maybe if you're younger, not get it straight across your forehead where everybody's going to see it ‘til you know what you're going to do with your life.