Ed Hospodar played nine seasons in the NHL and has more than his fair share of stories to tell. In this week’s Getting To Know, Hospodar shares the tale of a blindside hit that’s still painful, getting deked by Dale Hawerchuk and a game that ended thanks to the zamboni.
Status: Former NHL defenseman for New York Rangers, Hartford, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Buffalo from 1979-1988.
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 210 pounds
DOB: Feb. 9, 1959 In: Bowling Green, Ohio
Early Hockey Memory: “Waking up in the morning and going with my brothers and my dad to the rink. Dad would drag me along and they would play on the half rink and I’d find a portion of ice to go skate on.”
Hockey Inspirations: “I had several. Youth coaches. I admired Norm Battle. I became a Chicago Blackhawks fan. When my father got tickets for Maple Leafs games, my one brother got to go see Detroit, one go to go see the Rangers and I got to see Chicago. Later I roomed with Bobby Hull when he tried to make a comeback with the Rangers.”
First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “Probably Johnny Bower at Bell’s Red & White in Mississauga. I still have his autographed card from that day. I met him and Eddie Shack.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Oh wow, greatest moment of my career…I have two. One was playing on the ’79 U.S. World Junior Championship team. And the next one was putting on my Rangers jersey. My two goals in hockey were to play for my country and to play in the NHL. And third, playing for the Stanley Cup with the Flyers. We got there twice, one year I made it there and didn’t get to play.”
Most Painful Moment: “I think the Stastny hit to the back of my head. (Which Stastny brother?) I don’t know, one of the f—ing brothers. But I got them before. YouTube “Hospodar decapitated” or “Hospodar Stastny.” I was under their skin and pissed them off, drove them crazy. I hit one brother, then the other brother blind-sided – absolutely blindsided – me. There was no penalty given, no suspension. I guess it was like the League sending a message: You got what you deserve. (What was the resulting injury from the blow?) I think I’m still injured some. I’m not part of any lawsuit. But I still feel soreness.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “I think Joel Quenneville is very funny, good sense of humor. I’m thinking…who else?…Steve Vickers is funny. Everybody goes with Nicky Fotiu but Steve had a dry sense of humor. Cool. Ron Greschner is funny.”
Toughest Competitors Encountered: “I thought Anders Hedberg was pound-for-pound fierce. I have a lot of respect for Mark Messier. And Wayne Gretzky. I was a little older than Wayne, I remember in the pee-wee tournaments he took a lot of abuse and somehow survived it. Mark Howe. Brad McCrimmon. In Hartford, Joel Quenneville was the best on that team. Ronnie Francis was still growing up. There are a couple of names, put them in any order. Al Secord had 50 goals, 100 points and over two hundred penalty minutes, that’s pretty impressive. Rick Tocchet goes on the list.”
Favorite NHL Uniforms: “Chicago Blackhawks. The most colors, what is there, 27 different colors? Most colorful uniform in sports.”
Most Memorable Goal: “I have two. My first goal, the winning goal that knocked Atlanta out of the playoffs and out of Atlanta – they moved to Calgary after that season. My mother’s birthday. (Shot from the blueline?) Crashing the net, tapped in a rebound. Another gimme, like my first goal [laughs].”
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “Box lacrosse, without a doubt. Loved it as a kid. Then football.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “Dale Hawerchuk put a move on me at the end of a game and I think he still has my cup. He deked me out. We lost a tight game. It was bad. When I was with Hartford in Winnipeg. That was bad.”
Strangest Games: “We played in the peewee Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League and one of our guys put his hand on the puck in the crease. We were not given a penalty and the other team was not given a penalty shot. End of game, we won. The other team protested the game and we had to go back out there. They put a new ice sheet on. Three teams were dressed. They took the penalty shot and then played out the remaining 1:09 or whatever, if we won, we’d play the third team. If the other team scored we’d have to play overtime, if they won then we’d have to play another game. The ice had a slant to it and the one end it took forever for the water to dry on the ice. They took the penalty shot and as he skated in the puck got stuck in the water, the goalie touched the puck and the game was over. Another story – the pre-game brawl with Philadelphia in Montreal in the playoffs has to be the craziest. Once in Hartford we never got to the arena because of a snowstorm from Hartford to Montreal. We left on the day of the game and they wouldn’t let us land in Montreal or Ottawa or Boston, so they sent us back to Hartford. Guys were getting sick and puking all over the plane. We had to re-schedule the game. Another night we got stuck on the bus from Hartford going to play the Islanders on Long Island. We got stuck in a snowstorm in Rye, New York, Interstate 95 was closed and we couldn’t cross the bridge and all the hotels in the area had no vacancy. So we got to stay at the Westchester Country Club on Doug Sulliman’s tab because he was a member there. Bunch of the boys were having lobster, all on Sully, who was later reimbursed by the team. We were able to get to Long Island the next day and we played the game.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “A player in Hartford, who shall remain nameless, fell asleep between periods. He put a towel over his head to relax and fell asleep. Coach came in to do his little talk, yelled some things but he didn’t wake up. You had guys that were in Hartford that could have been fined for being late to practice, the rule said if you weren’t on the ice for practice you were fined. One individual overslept and got to the rink late but he was getting dressed into his equipment ON the ice, he said the rule said you didn’t have to be on the ice READY TO PRACTICE. The team was becoming divided over fines. When you lose that many games, the team starts to get dysfunctional. It was every man for himself., which is a bad morale for the team. When you’re already out of the playoffs by January it’s pretty bad. That year Sully was -50. If he wasn’t -50 we’d have given up 50 more goals – he had to play against the top lines of every team. Dougie had a tough job.”
Nicknames: “Just Boxcar, that’s the only one.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “The ‘Five F’ policy – Fair, firm, faithful, forgiving, fun.”
Mark “Scoop” Malinowski’s latest book “Facing Nadal: Symposium Of A Champion” is available on Amazon.