Former Sabres and Canucks defenseman talks about treating concussions in the 70s, and why he hated playing in Vancouver.
Status: NHL defenseman from 1971-1980 for Vancouver, Buffalo and New York Rangers.
DOB: March 1, 1951 In: Montreal
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 202
First Hockey Memory: “I think my dad (Roger) bought a pair of skates for me before I could even walk.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Jacques Laperierre, Bobby Hull, Maurice Richard, JC Tremblay.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “I have two. The draft day in 1971 (selected third overall). And the year we went to (Stanley Cup) finals. The first game in Philadelphia. I remember starting the game and my knees wouldn’t stop shaking.”
Most Painful Moment: “When I had to retire (due to chronic shoulder problems).”
Favorite Uniforms: “I always loved the Blackhawks jerseys. And thank God Chicago kept them the same. I like the way they did the colors and the shape.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “It’s gonna sound funny but The Boston Garden. And Montreal Forum.”
Least Favorite Rinks To Play: “I actually had two. Los Angeles and Vancouver. And I played in Vancouver. In Los Angeles the ice was always soft. I did not like the atmosphere. In Vancouver at that time we didn’t have a good team. They made signs on the players and made fun of us. My last year I just wanted out of there.”
First Famous Hockey Player That You Met Or Encountered: “The first that I encountered was Jean Beliveau. I think I was 14. It was at the Montreal Forum. My dad had taken me to a game and we had gotten there early. We found out where the players come in. I was wearing a No. 4 Montreal jersey and he came over to meet me. My dad took a picture of me with Jean Beliveau. Later I started to play with the junior Montreal Canadiens. I brought in the picture and he signed it for me. I still have it too. It’s in my scrapbook.”
Most Memorable Goal: “Would probably be my first. My second shift in the NHL, first period. I scored against Toronto. Five minutes into the game. At the time it was the record – fastest goal by a defenseman.”
Nicknames: “Goovy. And Grape. In Buffalo I wore an uncomfortable helmet and I would lift it up high on my head and Rick Martin said my head looked like a grape. Danny Gare still calls me Grape.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “In Vancouver Bobby Schmautz was like a comedian. In Buffalo, Rick Martin. He learned jokes by heart. He must have known a thousand. Every day he’d come up with new ones.”
Strangest Game: “In Buffalo we came back from a west coast swing through Vancouver, LA, Minnesota. The next night we had a home game and I slipped on the ice and hit my head in the boards. The trainer asked, Where are you? I said, We’re in Los Angeles aren’t we? Bruce Hood said ‘Get him off the ice.’ In the third period I came back to play. How they treated concussions back then was to give you two aspirin and go to bed.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “We were playing against the Russians in Buffalo in 1976. We beat the Russians 12-6. I scored a hat trick – two goals for my team and one for them. I tried to bang the puck to the corner but I batted it over the shoulder of Gerry Desjardens. People were throwing hats on the ice.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “I laugh all the time. I think we were in Toronto. Me and Rick Martin were walking down the street before a game. All the sudden he said, ‘Look up at the top of the building.’ Then all the sudden there were twenty people with us looking up at the top of the building.”
Last Book Read: “I think I went through the Guy Lafleur book. When a friend of mine from Montreal brought it down for Christmas.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “I like to see people enjoy life. There’s so much anger in the world. I’d just love to see people be happy again, smile, say hello. People are bitter. Smile. Be happy. Life is too short.”
Mark Scoop Malinowski’s seventh book “Facing McEnroe” will be published this summer.
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