The former California Golden Seal, Cleveland Baron, Washington Capital and Minnesota North Star talks about the greatest moments of his 14-year hockey career from the 1970s and ’80s.
Status: Former NHL center from 1975-1989 for California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, Washington Capitals and Minnesota North Stars. Tallied 356 goals and 522 assists in 888 NHL games. Currently operates a hockey school called Winning Techniques just north of Huntsville, Ontario, teaching kids how to put the puck in the net and other skills. Plays 40-50 games a year with NHL alumni and at charity events like the Special Olympics.
HT: 5-8 WT: 165
DOB: November 17, 1955 In: Toronto, Ontario
First Hockey Memory: “Playing hockey house leagues. We played hockey in the street all the time, that’s all we did. I had a neighbor who played goalie. He said to come play with us. I went to the practice and the coaches said, ‘Play with us.’ So I started playing house leagues in Toronto. I was 8.”
Hockey Inspiration(s): “Growing up, I guess any child watching the Toronto Maple Leafs on TV, Hockey Night In Canada, that got me inspired. Watching the Maple Leafs and cheering them on. Playing house leagues, that went pretty good for me.”
Nicknames: “I’ve had Rat, Midget, Peewee.”
First Famous Hockey Player You Met Or Encountered: “Bobby Hull. I got to meet him at a practice at Maple Leaf Gardens. We sometimes got to practice at Maple Leaf Gardens when I was with the Marlies (age 12). The first time I was able to watch the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks and I got to meet Bobby Hull. I admired how physically strong he was.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Well, I guess, maybe a few. Making it to the NHL. Scoring my first NHL goal in Toronto in Maple Leaf Gardens with my parents and friends there. And my 60-goal season in Washington in ’81-82.”
Most Painful Moment: “I guess injuries. I was lucky but I had a few major ones. Early in my career I tore my knee ligament, MCL, and missed the whole year. That was my fourth year, the first time I was with Minnesota (1978-79). In ’88, the second time with Minnesota, I shattered my kneecap and missed about eight months with recovery time. The negative point was I wasn’t able to play with some strong hockey teams during my career and make the playoffs. It was frustrating to lose a lot.”
Most Memorable Goal: “I have two. My first goal – against Wayne Thomas in Toronto when I was with the Seals. And the 60th (against Montreal) on April 4th.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “So many of ’em, oh geez (chuckles). Dave Hutchison who I play a lot with now. And a guy I played with in Minnesota – Curt Giles.”
Closest Hockey Friend(s): “While I was playing I didn’t really associate with a lot of friends from hockey. I’ll say when I was with Minnesota – Brian Bellows. And since I retired – Bill Derlago.”
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “The toughest to play against…I played against a bunch of different eras…I’ll say Bryan Trottier and Mark Messier.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “Initiation my first year, of course, I had long hair and a mustache, Fu Manchu. The day before team pictures they shaved my hair and mustache and gave me a half-Hitler mustache which I had to shave off. I was about 20 but I looked about 13 after they cut off all my hair.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “One of my coaches that made me laugh… Dan Belisle missing the airplane at the airport. He must have had a few too many, when we saw him later his tie was crooked, he had a black eye. He said he fell in his room and hit a table.”
Favorite Uniforms: “I had a few, of course, Washington Capitals was one. And I really liked the Chicago Blackhawks, too.”
Favorite Arena(s) To Play: “Maple Leaf Gardens was one. Another one would be the Edmonton Oilers’ (Edmonton Coliseum), due to the fact the great hockey teams they had there and the ice was fabulous.”
Strangest Game: “Games with a lot of goals. We had an unusual game 12-8 with the North Stars when we played in Edmonton. 20 goals in that game. It seemed like whoever was going to get the last shot was going to win the game. Another unusual one I had was against Pete Peeters in Philadelphia when I was with Washington. I was changing shifts and I shot the puck in about two feet to the side of the net. Peeters came out but the puck deflected off the boards and hit his stick and caromed right into the net. I came to the bench – I was just trying to put the puck in the zone – and they said, ‘You just scored.’ That was strange. And kind of embarrassing for him.”
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “I like tennis and though I don’t play as much as I’d like, golf.”
Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow: “I like Tiger Woods. I liked Pete Sampras. And in today’s game – Mr. Ovechkin.”
People/Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Well, I think mainly people that can deal with adversity and can challenge themselves to override that. People that can change their situation and succeed in a short period of time. And passion. You have to have passion in life.”
Getting To Know appears every week on thn.com. Mark ‘Scoop’ Malinowski’s second book “Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew” is available on www.amazon.com. Malinowski is the creator of two websites: www.thebiofile.com and www.tennis-prose.com.
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