In this week’s edition of Getting to Know, Mark Malinowski catches up with former New York Islanders blueliner Rich Pilon, who dished out some devastating hits over his 14 seasons in the league.
Status: NHL defenceman from 1988-2001 for New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.
DOB: April 30, 1968 In: Saskatoon, Sask.
First Hockey Memory: “My first hockey memory was when I was about eight years old and I got my first new pair of CCM Tacks. I always had used skates and was so excited to get the new ones. Couldn’t wait to get on the outdoor pond to try them out. Got out there but they didn’t sharpen them and all I did the whole time was end up on my butt.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Al Arbour was a person I really looked up to and he made me who I was as player. Very grateful for all his teachings.”
Nicknames: “‘Shaker’ was my first one in Midget AAA and ‘Chief’ was my nickname in the NHL.”
First Famous Player You Met or Encountered: “My first encounter was my idol Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt. I met Guy Lafleur in Prince Albert. Our Midget AAA team played them in a charity game. They were traveling with a group of former NHL players. Lafleur was my favorite player growing up. Then when I made pro I ended up playing against him again – he came out of retirement and was playing for Quebec. He was the only player I ever let up on [laughs].”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993 to advance to next round of playoffs.”
Most Painful Moment: “My most painful moment was when I took a puck in the eye and broke my orbital bone and also lost all of my central vision to this day. (Against who?) Against the Detroit Red Wings in my second year playing for the Islanders.”
Most Memorable Goal: “My first NHL goal against the Edmonton Oilers against Bill Ranford. Great feeling! Pinch me!”
Favorite Rink To Play: “Loved the old Chicago Stadium. Can’t imagine how loud that building was.”
Favorite Sweaters: “I really like the New York Rangers jerseys. Still my favorite jersey to this day.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “It happened in practice, Marc Bergevin made big green foam ears and pasted them to a helmet. He was making fun of Brent Sutter. He skated on the ice and these things were flapping around, looked funny. But, boy oh boy, did Brent flip out.”
Strangest Game: “When I snapped during a game and was banging on the glass. I left the draw to go and get my wife’s attention. To this day I’m still very embarrassed. I embarrassed the Islanders and my wife. This was could be also the scariest day of my life.”
Closest NHL Friends: “I still talk with Marc Bergevin, Brian Bryan McCabe. The whole Facebook thing has helped me reconnect with guys like Darius Kasparaitis. Mick Vukota, who was my closest friend when I played.”
Last Book Read: “Why Teams Win: 9 Keys to Success in Business, Sport, and Beyond, by Dr. Saul. L. Miller.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “I explained it…that was the game I banged the glass with four minutes left against the Canucks at home. I left the draw to go and bang on the glass to stop my wife from following the mother of the girl I was being unfaithful with. We are still married today and I’m very fortunate that my wife forgave me.”
Funniest Player(s) Encountered: “Marc Bergevin. No one is even close.”
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “I had some great battles with Eric Lindros. Probert was one of the toughest players to ever play the game.”
People/Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. Integrity. And being respectful. Having a great work ethic.”
Why You Love Playing Hockey: “It was something that I started playing at a young age and fell in love with the game. I still love the game today. It not only teaches teamwork, respect and commitment. Hockey, to me, mirrors life and can give you life skills to be successful in the real world. Greatest game on Earth for me.”