In this week’s Getting To Know, Scott Arniel recalls the story of Bob Probert putting a scare into an entire bench, a trainer who gave the Buffalo Sabres some help and the story of being on the bench during Clint Malarchuk’s horrifying accident.
Status: Former NHL left winger for Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins from 1981-1992. Currently serves as assistant coach for the New York Rangers.
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 188 pounds
DOB: September 17, 1962 In: Kingston, Ontario
First Hockey Memory: “It was my older brother, who is three years older than me. Going to watch his practices in cold rinks. And my dad started to help out and I got a chance at the end of practice to jump out on the ice and skate a bit with him.”
Hockey Inspirations: “For me, Boston Bruins, Bobby Orr, growing up watching him sort of change the game I guess. We had some connection with Boston guys and Kingston, Ontario – Wayne Cashman, Harry Sinden, Rick Smith, Don Cherry, we used to see a lot of those guys around.”
First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “Probably Rick Smith, defenseman for the Boston Bruins, at a hockey school in Kingston.”
Greatest Sports Moment(s): “I would probably say my first NHL game I got to play. I was eighteen years old at the old Landover, Maryland arena, playing against Washington. As an eighteen year old, finally living your dream and playing in the NHL.”
Most Painful Moment: “For me, probably – I had a serious injury, I got stepped on by the skate (of Jets defenseman Bryan Maxwell) in my second year in the NHL. I ended up missing 40-something or 50 games whatever – probably the most disappointing point, especially when I was young and kinda gettin’ going.”
Most Memorable Goal: “My first goal, in Detroit, against Greg Stefan. Also, playoffs against Calgary. Actually, you know what, first game of the season – I would say year four – first game of the season against Detroit, I had a hat trick. Maybe it was my third year – after all the injuries and stuff that happened, that was a big moment, having a hat trick opening night in Winnipeg.”
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “Probably, for me, I ended up playing with him later – Clark Gillies (in Buffalo), was obviously one of the biggest, toughest. There were some tough, mean guys. Paul Holmgren – my first bench clearing brawl was in Winnipeg against the Flyers, when it was still Holmgren, Behn Wilson, and those guys. It was a little bit scary. Dave Manson was a guy I played in Chicago – tough customer. Bob Probert. There are some guys you didn’t get a whole lot close to if you didn’t have to.”
Favorite NHL Uniforms: “I’ve got say Chicago’s red jersey. Any of the Original Six.”
Favorite Rinks To Play In: “For me, back then it was the Aud, though I ended up playing there later. As a visitor, in the Aud in Buffalo or Boston Garden – I loved going to those rinks. Chicago Stadium. They were fun buildings to play in. Being a Kingston guy, playing in Maple Leaf Gardens and the old Forum in Montreal – obviously a lot of history there.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “At the old Aud, going to get a puck on the boards – the puck went quick and the boards would stick out there and I pitch-forked myself and I broke my rib. I did a pole vault over. It was embarrassing to pitch-fork myself and also break a rib doing it [smiles]. Another one was Lanny McDonald, I don’t know if it was his 40th goal, it wasn’t his 50th. Two on one, I back-checked and they passed it off and Lanny was there. Instead of Lanny shooting, I shot it in the net. I tried to pick the pass off and ended up shooting it – tried to push it in the corner, I ended up pushing it in our own net. Gave Lanny his 40th. Made Lanny look good again, not that he needed my help [smiles].”
Strangest Games: “Lots of stuff happened. Guy by the name of Porky Palmer, one of the trainers in Buffalo. Both teams would come out of the same end zone. Porky used to stand at the door and whenever we, in the second period, would shoot at that end, we would dump the puck in that corner. Porky would push the door out with his foot, so the door would come out. The puck would come out and hit that door and come right out to the slot. We knew in the second period and we started to do it. Then the other team started to catch on. Then everybody’s yelling at Porky and he’s a big guy. It became comical some of the bounces that started to happen. Porky got good at it, he timed it pretty well [smiles]. The worst thing I ever saw in hockey was Clint Malarchuk getting his throat cut. I was there. I wasn’t on the ice but I took one of the trainers, skated out. I got ten feet away – bar none, the worst thing I ever saw in my life. Both in hockey and out of hockey. When Clint left the ice, we didn’t know if he was alive or dead. So, luckily, seeing him over the years, he’s doing better. So that’s great to see, but that was a scary situation.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “In Buffalo, Bob Probert had just come off rehab or suspension or whatever it was. He’s in front of our bench. It was offsides. And the puck was sitting in front of our bench. And one of our trainers yelled at him. Bob was chirping at one of our players. It was fairly quiet. Our trainer yelled out, ‘Have another drink Bob!’ Well, he turned around and looked at our bench. The puck was sitting right there and he wound up. Rick Dudley was our coach, John Tortorella was our assistant. Probert turns around and he’s about fifteen feet from the bench. And he winds up, takes a slap shot. Comes down. Both coaches duck, all of our players dive into the bench. He fakes it and stops and skates away. Never touches the puck. But our whole bench dove. Everybody thought he was shooting the puck into our bench. Then we all got up and looked at our trainer, like we’re gonna kill him. But it was funny. He started laughing when he skated away. It wasn’t funny for us then, but it’s kinda funny now.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Probably the biggest thing is, I’ve always liked having guys that are great teammates. Obviously, up front, honest, hard working people. You look back at your best friends or best teammates. That ne guy, that when the game is on the line, when the pressure really mounted, even when things weren’t going very well, that teammate camaraderie, all those good qualities, that come out in people are the ones you rarely see.”
Mark “Scoop” Malinowski’s latest book “Facing Nadal: Symposium Of A Champion” is available on Amazon.