The 10 year NHL veteran turned Lightning coach talks about his earliest hockey memories and the freak accident he suffered the night before the Stanley Cup Finals.
Status: Former NHL left wing from 1986-1996 with New York Islanders, Chicago, Ottawa, Pittsburgh. Currently serves as assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 210 pounds
DOB: October 27, 1966 In: Humboldt, Sask.
First Hockey Memory: “Obviously going back to childhood – getting up early in the morning having breakfast with mom and dad and getting in the cold car and going to a rink. And playing two or three games that day.”
Hockey Inspirations: “It’s just something that – living life in Canada from a small town, all your friends did it, you just enjoyed playing outside, just being around hockey. Just a bug in you since you’re a little kid.”
First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “When I was older and training in Saskatchewan with all the players that come back in the summertime where we trained. Bernie Federko – I went to his camp – and Barry Melrose – I worked at his hockey school.”
Greatest Sports Moment(s): “A few highlights – obviously being drafted was one of those things that you dreamed about. Family there with you. And then being able to play your first NHL game – I think in Chicago Stadium – was something that I’ll never forget. Especially the old stadium – how noisy and crazy and how loud it was – the excitement in the building was something I’ll remember too.”
Most Painful Moment: “Besides the end of it [chuckles]? There’s been a few injuries – breaking my knee cap (from a Mark Howe slapshot in Philadelphia) was disappointing after coming off a good year. And then having the setback and missing a good part of that season. That was a tough year for me.”
Favorite Uniforms: “Blackhawks and New York (Rangers). Original Six teams and I really like the colors, Blackhawks first probably.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “The old buildings – Boston Garden, Toronto, the old Forum, Chicago – the history. Small but good-sized with a lot of excitement. Now the newer buildings are unbelievable – Chicago is still an exciting place, and any time you go to Canada. Montreal is always a great atmosphere and a lot of fun.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Oh God. Marc Bergevin was definitely one of the funniest guys I played with. Derek King. Mick Vukota. Islanders days we had some pretty good characters. Kelly Hrudey [smiles].”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “It was the Stanley Cup Finals. I was with Chicago and we made the finals – we were going to Pittsburgh to play in the finals. And we practiced in Chicago Stadium – and we used to have water bottles sitting around the glass during practice – because we wouldn’t get water breaks. We had to pick up water and drink it while we were practicing. So guys used to shoot pucks at ’em. So the bottle I picked up had a broken top on it – but I didn’t realize it. I picked up the bottle and took a drink and I swallowed a piece of plastic. And what happened was it lodged in my throat. And the team was going to Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup finals. I ended up going to have surgery that day – they had to go down and get the plastic out. So I missed the flight to Pittsburgh and I had to fly in the next day. That was pretty embarrassing [smiles].”
Strangest Game: “When I was in the minors (in IHL) we played in Quebec City and there was an earthquake during the game.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “I was playing for the Islanders at the time with Derek King and Mick Vukota. And Derek King just bought a brand new Corvette. Derek and Mick lived in the same area so they would drive in. And on the way home Mick needed to run an errand. So he borrowed Derek’s Corvette and dropped Derek off. It was game day. They had a pre-game nap at home. Mick got up and got in Derek’s car and went to the rink and he was supposed to pick up Derek but he totally forgot to pick him up on the way to the game. Kinger had to take a cab. And the taxi cabs on Long Island at the time made a number of stops – when he got in the taxi there were like three other people in the cab who had to be dropped off before Derek got to the Coliseum. Kinger got there late and missed part of the warm-up. And he ended up having a hat trick that night [smiles].”
Most Memorable Goal: “Probably my first goal – it was in LA against the Kings – a pass from Denis Potvin on the half wall. I walked in and shot. I think it was Glen Healy in the net at the time.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Being real. Being honest. That for me is the biggest thing.”
Mark (Scoop) Malinowski’s latest books “Facing Nadal” and “Muhammad Ali: Portait of a Champion” are available at amazon.