Status: Senior vice-president/alternate governor of the Detroit Red Wings.
DOB: Jan. 18, 1943 In: Toronto
First Hockey Memory: “Oh boy, 1956 my dad took me to Maple Leaf Gardens. I was 13 years old. The Detroit Red Wings – I was a Leaf fan – and the Detroit Red Wings beat them in Maple Leaf Gardens 5-1 that night. That’s really my first hockey memory.”
Favorite Movies: “Don’t go to movies.”
Last Book Read: “The Road To Hockeytown by Jimmy Devellano (smiles).”
Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “Invest money.”
First Job: “80 cents an hour. 1959. Packing sweaters in Toronto in boxes and shipping them.”
Current Car: “Lexus.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “The greatest moment of my career was May 24, 1980, about 5:10 in the afternoon at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup. I was their lead scout at the time. And I knew now that my name was going to go on the Stanley Cup and I was going to get a Stanley Cup ring. That was the best moment of my career.”
Most Painful Moment: “Well, we had a few of those. I would say to you probably 1985-86 – it was my fourth year in Detroit. And everything completely – completely – unraveled. And we finished dead last in the league by a country mile. I would say that’s my biggest disappointment in all my years.”
Favorite Uniforms: “Well, I think the Red Wings home sweater – the red sweater – is a beautiful sweater. I’m a big fan of the home sweater of the St. Louis Blues; I think the blue note is phenomenal. I don’t like the third sweaters – I think it’s strictly a selling gimmick. I’m big on tradition. I think the Philadelphia Flyers have a nice emblem. Obviously, the Chicago Blackhawks as well.”
Favorite Arena: “Well, past, I would say Maple Leaf Gardens because I was brought up there. I just have so many good memories from my childhood and teenage years there. I would say Maple Leaf Gardens.”
Closest Hockey Friends: “Ken Holland, Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Bill Torrey.”
Funniest Hockey People Encountered: “Hmm, funny, funny, funny…Danny Belisle. He’s just a funny guy, worked for me in Detroit. And he’s a character.”
Toughest Competitor: “Against me? Or for me? (Both.) Well, I’ve been fortunate in my day to have some real tough, hard-nosed players. When I think back to my Islander days – Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, John Tonelli, Garry Howatt were all fierce competitors. In Detroit, Steve Yzerman, while he wasn’t that type of player, was a premier, premier comp. Vladimir Konstantinov was tough. You know, Bob Probert, Joe Kocur were tough, tough guys.”
Strangest Game: “Well, I don’t know if I can tell you right off the top of my head. I’ve probably seen 5,000 games I think…I think I saw a strange game this year. Calgary went into Chicago one night this year. I think Calgary was up 5-0. I think Chicago beat them 6-5. That’s strange, as an example.”
Favorite Players To Watch: “Well, Nick Lidstrom is a big favorite of mine. Why wouldn’t he be? I mean, he’s played so well for so many years for us. I sort of concentrate on my own team and I like a lot of my own players – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are obviously terrific players that I enjoy watching. I like this young Stamkos boy in Tampa. He seems to be developing and it looks like he’s going to be a fine player as well. John Tavares with the Islanders. You know, this entry draft is working for some of these lower clubs that are getting good players. Ovechkins and Crosbys, the Patrick Kanes and Jonathan Toews’. The draft at the beginning is really producing some terrific young talent for the league.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Well, I like to see passion for the sport. A stick-to-it-iveness. Guys who really love hockey and work at it and work hard. And don’t think of it so much as a job – as a passion and a love. Those are the types of people who impress me and who I like.”
Career Accomplishments: Started as St. Louis Blues scout in 1967; hired by Islanders as scout in 1972 and assistant GM in 1981; 43 years in NHL, 28 seasons with Detroit; has seven Stanley Cup rings (four with Detroit, three with Islanders); eight years as GM of Detroit; recipient of the prestigious Lester Patrick Award in 2009 along with Mike Richter and Mark Messier.
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