The former NHL defenseman talks about the thrill of winning the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens, and an embarrassing moment at the world championships.
Status: Former NHL defenseman from 1975-87 for the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and Calgary Flames. Currently serves as TV analyst for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 200 pounds
DOB: January 27, 1955 In: Winnipeg, Manitoba
First Hockey Memory: “Going to the outdoor skating rink a block away from my home. I was probably five years old going with my dad. Pretty soon I was old enough to go to the rink myself – it was only a block away. Just grab my skates and stick and go there myself and skate all day on Saturdays and all day on Sundays. And after school and sometimes before dinner. And if I didn’t have any homework I’d go back out after dinner too [smiles].”
Hockey Inspirations: “Was Watching Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday night in Winnipeg. Never missed it. Just dreaming of being in the NHL and playing was motivation for me. Plus the fact I just loved it. I loved being outside. I loved skating around shooting pucks. And couldn’t wait till gameday. When it snowed and the games got cancelled – because we played outside – half of us would be balling our eyes out. Because we couldn’t play.”
First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “That’s a good question. I’m not sure… Put it this way – not necessarily the first. I was already in my first year pro and I came back home to Winnipeg. And there was a charity game and Bobby Hull and Ted Irvine were there. Teddy Irvine had just retired after years with the Rangers. And Bobby was playing in the WHA. And there were kids getting autographs. And they were asking Bobby, Bobby, sign this. Little kids. And Bobby was great. He said: ‘This is Ted Irvine. Get his autograph too. He played a long time.’ Kids were all getting Bobby’s. Then they sort of turned to Ted and one kid asked: ‘Who did you used to be?’ And Ted started to laugh. And he turned to me – because it was my first year pro – and he said ‘Don’t ever forget that it goes quickly.’ And they don’t know who you are after. I went: ‘That’s great.’ And I never forgot that.”
Greatest Sports Moment(s): “Making the team in Team Canada in ’81 was really big for me. Just getting invited was terrific. And I was borderline to make it. I really wanted it bad. I trained really hard. That was big. Of course being on the Cup teams in Montreal. It’s an amazing feeling – especially the Stanley Cup parades. That might be the single biggest thing – be in cars going down Saint Catharines Street and people are hanging from light posts everywhere. A couple hundred thousand people – it was surreal.”
Most Painful Moment: “Was at the end – when I was in the doctor’s office and they said: ‘With your neck (injury) — you’re done. You can’t play.’ That was the most painful moment. Knowing it was all over. (How did the injury happen?) From getting knocked around all the years.”
Favorite Uniforms: “Chicago Blackhawks.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Mark Hardy and Peter Mahovlich.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “World Championships ’83 playing for Canada (in Dortmund, Germany). We’re playing the Russians in the final round – on the big ice surface. I hadn’t played on the big ice surface ever before. And you get a little disorientated by the size and width of it. Pass came from the corner – I’m covering one of the guys in front of the net. Pass comes – I try to clear it out the other way. Shot it right in the corner of the net. Rick Walmsley was our goalie. He just looked at me and said: ‘Nice shot [laughs].’ It was embarrassing but it was pretty funny – after the fact. We still talk about it from time to time.”
Strangest Game: “I was playing with LA and we were in Edmonton. This is the Gretzky era. After two periods with Gretzky, Anderson, Kurri, Messier, Fuhr, all the who’s who – somehow we’re ahead 7-2 after two periods. 7-2. And the younger guys are whoopin’ it up. We come out for the third period and I’ll never forget the look on Messier’s face – you could tell Glen Sather had just given it to them in the second intermission. And he was blowing steam out of both ears. Dropped the puck and they started coming back. 7-3. 7-4. 7-5. 7-6. And it was 7-6 and they were looking at us and they knew they were gonna win. And they went out and they won 8-7. That was the most painful loss ever. Our locker room was substantially different after the game than it was after the second period. (Remember who got the winning goal?) No. I wouldn’t want to remember either. Probably Gretzky.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “This is in practice – you had to be there. But it started with a conversation on the team and sort of a little bet: Who was faster – Murray Wilson or Yvan Cournoyer? So they went once around. And it was a dead heat. Two guys built completely different. Short and stocky and incredibly powerful was Cournoyer. And Murray Wilson was built like a gazelle. And it was a dead even heat. And then Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard – and everybody was asking for this one. And so they did it too. And they skated pretty darn hard. I figured they would just ham it up but they raced once around. But at the finish line at the red line – they both have pretty big noses – so they were pushing their noses across the line like they were horses in a horse race because both of them were into that. Funny too. That was one of the most hilarious moments. We were dying laughing. Just to see them at the end trying to nose their way over the line just to see who was gonna win the race. For whatever reason that jumped into my head [smiles].”
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “Oh a big list. There’s a big list of guys there. I’d hate to leave any guys out.”
Most Memorable Goal: “You’d think I would remember more because I didn’t score that many. But I think the first NHL goal – it was a shot from the point – a screen shot. In the Forum in Montreal. Assisted by Pierre Larouche and Guy Lafleur. And I have the puck at home.”
Closest Hockey Friends: “Steve Shutt. Larry Robinson. Those two would be right up there.”
Mark Scoop Malinowski’s latest books “Facing Nadal” and “Muhammad Ali: Portait of a Champion” are available at amazon.