From makeshift outdoor rinks on a baseball field to four-time Stanley Cup winner, Kirk Maltby has more than his fair share of stories to tell. In this week’s Getting To Know, he reminisces about playing with Steve Yzerman, Marc Bergevin and one of the things about his playing days he definitely doesn’t miss.
Status: Former NHL right winger for Detroit and Edmonton from 1992-2010. Currently serves as scout for Detroit.
Ht: Six-foot Wt: 195 pounds
DOB: December 22, 1972 In: Guelph, Ont.
First Hockey Memory: “Well, I’m Canadian, so I just grew up loving watching it. Then once I started playing it, it wasn’t just enough to play on my local team in my hometown. The fire truck would come and flood two of the baseball diamonds so we had, like, all winter long till it started to melt. When I was a young kid, I just could never get enough hockey.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Oh my Lord, I loved the game. My parents obviously gave me the opportunity to play it — not just financially — but taking me to everything. I grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, even though they weren’t very good at the time. Wayne Gretzky was from Brampton, obviously doing what he was doing in Edmonton with the Oilers. I wouldn’t say I had one particular player or anything. The Leafs were my favorite. And if hockey was on I was watching it, it didn’t matter who it was.”
Last Book Read: “Oh shoot, don’t ask me that [smiles], stick with magazines.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Well, not just making it but winning the Stanley Cup. And winning it four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), would never have thought that would happen. Just playing in the NHL and obviously winning the Stanley Cup, those go hand in hand but I can’t pick which one was better than the other.”
Most Painful Moment: “Well, any time you have to block a shot. I mean, when I see it out here now, that’s one of the things I’m glad I don’t have to do anymore. But painful — it wasn’t my worst injury but one of the worst ones was taking a slapshot off the right eye. I believe it was by Kevin Hatcher, I was on the penalty kill. Didn’t feel it the first couple of seconds but after about three seconds, the pain set in. I was playing for Edmonton at the time, in Edmonton.”
Favorite Uniforms: “Aw man, I like the Wing’s wheel. And I’m being a little bit biased of it. But I’d say the winged wheel is a great, great uniform. Looking back on the old ones, I loved those old Vancouver black and yellows with the V. I still think those are really cool when they do the throwbacks.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “Well, I love all the rinks, every one is different. They’re all pretty new now. I love the Joe (Louis Arena). It’s going to be a sad day when that one goes. Chicago — as intimidating as it was to play there at times — I thought that was extremely cool how you’d have to go up and down the stairs at each period to go to the dressing room. I was very fortunate to get to play in the Gardens in Toronto and Boston and the Forum in Montreal, also. Growing up being a hockey fan and obviously a fan of the Original Six, I got to play in all those original ones. So that’s a great memory.”
Most Memorable Goal: “My first goal in the NHL was in my first game, which was in the second game of the season. I didn’t play in Edmonton’s first game. It was against the New York Islanders, I believe (Ron) Hextall was in net. Didn’t get to celebrate because Kelly Buchberger got in a fight right after I scored [laughs]. My linemates at the time were Kelly Buchberger and Craig MacTavish.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “I only got to play with him a short bit of time. The year I got traded to Detroit he was on that team: Marc Bergevin. [Chuckles] definitely was one of the funniest guys I ever played with. And I’m sure, to this day, even as a GM, he has to hold back and be a little bit more professional. But he’s a pretty funny guy.”
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “Aw man, to play the sport at this level, everyone has to be a pretty good competitor at some level. I don’t know if I’d say fierce, but Steve Yzerman, especially towards the end of his career with some of the injuries that he had, surgeries he had. And seeing him out there doing what he was doing. He really was an inspiration to his team and teammates. To see him doing what he was doing, the bruises and things that we had in paled in comparison. It motivated us to go out there and do as much as we could to try to win.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “Fortunately I don’t have any. Other than maybe fanning on a shot or you go to shoot the puck and your stick breaks and you fall on your face or something like that. You have all the typical ones, where you catch an edge the wrong way or a little rut in the ice and you go down for no reason. I think everyone, basically the best and the worst one, can all say that they have that. Fortunately, I don’t have a real…I remember we had a game in Vancouver. Gino Odjick lost his temper. It was a bit of a 5-on-5. He got loose and he kicked someone’s helmet. He missed it and went down on his backside. But no one laughed till he was at least off the ice because they didn’t want him coming after them.”
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “Probably baseball growing up, because that’s what I did. But now being retired, definitely golf.”
Strangest Games: “I remember coming out for the first period of a game — and the Sharks’ mascot got stuck coming from the rafters, on a rope about halfway. They were starting to bring out all these pads on the ice — to cut the rope and let him fall. And thank God they didn’t do that because he would have bounced — he was still 50-60 feet up in the air. They were able to manually pull him all the way back up. So that was pretty strange. In Carolina before they moved to their new rink, their mascot was on the Zamboni and they were supposed to lift it up to let the ice out. Well, he was gonna slide out onto the ice and start skiing around but while they put the ice in there the carbon monoxide built up and he passed out. And he just came out like a puddle. So it wasn’t necessarily to do with the game itself, but leading into the game, some of the crazy stuff, stunts, or whatever, that go wrong.”
First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “From a small town in Cambridge, Ontario Ont., growing up we didn’t have a lot of guys who moved on to the pro ranks but Bob Hodges was a linesman, I grew up playing minor hockey with his son. That was the first famous person that I met, the linesman, Bob Hodges, as far as from the NHL.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Like the old cliché, treat others like you would like to be treated. Just good people, ones that I know I can call up regardless if I saw them yesterday or a year ago, that I can confide with them or need help or whatever. And I feel that they can do the same for me.”
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