Status: Minnesota Wild assistant coach and former defenseman for the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Olympic gold medalist in 1980. Inducted into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 195 pounds
DOB: Dec. 3, 1960 In: Minneapolis, Minn.
Hockey Inspirations: “To tell you the truth, I grew up skating in the park and didn’t follow the pros that much. I followed our high school team. One of my best friends was Jay Larson and his older brother was Reed Larson. So I was in junior high school and grade school watching Reed Larson play in high school. Reed was really fun to watch as a kid. But it wasn’t like I patterned myself after anybody and said I’m this guy or this guy. It didn’t really work that way.”
First Hockey Memory: “Depends how deep you want to go, high school or peewee. I remember playing at the park, I was eight years old playing with the 10- to 11-year-olds, my dad was the coach. He always said if you get tired on the ice just shoot the puck over the boards because of the snow. And I spent a shift in my own end trying to shoot the puck over the boards. I couldn’t lift it over the boards. My dad said, ‘what are you doing?’ ‘I’m trying to shoot the puck over the boards to get a whistle’ (laughs). I couldn’t get it over the boards.”
Nicknames: “Rammer, that’s it.”
Favorite Movie: “Oh, Caddyshack, Slap Shot. Although I watched Slap Shot with my son the other day and I didn’t remember it being that crude and inappropriate with some of the language. But I thought that was a great movie.”
First Job: “Digging ditches. I was 16. We dug trenches a certain depth to put electrical wires in, from the house to the garage. Then it was blacktopping – shoveling blacktop out of the truck to do driveways.”
Greatest Sports Moment(s): “Professional career, high school career, college career? Everything is measured at that moment. In high school, when you get to the state championship, you think, ‘this is it, this is it.’ And when you get to college and you win the national championship (with University of Minnesota) and you go, ‘this is it.’ Then you win a gold medal and you go, ‘it doesn’t get any better than this.’ Haven’t won a Stanley Cup, so maybe you’d win a Stanley Cup, maybe that’ll be it. But everything is kind of a process and a stepping stone.”
Most Painful Moment: “Oh, a painful hockey moment…Got hit with a lot of pucks. Got hit with a slapshot in the mouth. I got kicked – lost part of my (right) ear and they sewed that back on. I had a concussion – that wasn’t pleasant. They don’t seem so bad now. You get through ’em and you go. So I had a lot of them but they weren’t that bad.”
Closest Hockey Friend: “Lindy Ruff.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Marc Bergevin. I played with him in Detroit. Bergie – he would do things just so outside the box…that, you know, he wasn’t afraid to embarrass himself. I mean, he’d sit down at the restaurant, the waiter would bring out whatever, a cake, and all the sudden he’d put his whole face in the cake. He’d go in the kitchen and put the waiter’s jacket on and he’d come out of the kitchen serving everybody’s meal. Lindy Ruff – another funny guy. You always had to stay on your toes because you never knew what he was going to do. He would do some things if you weren’t ready. You know, I remember we came to the hotel one time, we flew in at two in the morning and I couldn’t find my key. So I got another key and went in and he was already in my room and was hiding in the closet. Two in the morning I open up my closet to hang my suit up and he jumps out. So it’s stupid stuff like that.”
Toughest Competitors: “Well, there’s tough – fighting – and then there’s tough. I mean, a guy I played with, guys that were tough like (Vladimir) Konstantinov in Detroit. I mean, not fighting, but he was tough. I mean, he hit, he would get hit. He’d get stitched up. We wouldn’t bat an eye. He’d come back. He’d keep on. Then there’s fighting tough. I mean, these guys play, they’re getting hit and they’re getting punches and they’re hitting. Ulf Samuelsson, he was tough. Cam Neely was tough. He played hard. (Bobby) Nystrom early in my career, he was at the tail end when they won the fourth Cup. He was honest; he was tough. Guys like that.”
Favorite Players To Watch: “Gilbert Perreault. I played with Gilbert, he was fun to watch when he was on his game; he could take the puck and go coast to coast. And we’d say, ‘Bert, why don’t you do that again?’ And he’d say, ‘I don’t know exactly what I did.’ But he was just so natural carrying the puck. He was fun to watch. It’s fun to watch a guy like (Alex) Kovalev – when he wants to play. When he wants to play and gets going with the puck he’s fun to watch. Mario Lemieux. I played with Mario. He did some things – you shake your head. And I got to play with the Russians, all the Russians in Detroit. Them as a group, that was fun. I got on the ice with them a couple times as one of the defensemen. They’d throw it around, kept giving it to me. I’d say to (Igor) Larionov, ‘go that way (points forward). Don’t give it back to me.’ He said, ‘we’re fine, Rammer.’ I had the luxury of playing with the Detroit team when we won 62 games. (Steve) Yzerman and (Sergei) Fedorov and Konstantinov. That was a crew there. Larionov. That was fun to watch them play. (Nicklas) Lidstrom.”
Favorite Arenas To Play: “Favorite rinks…I liked coming here to Madison Square Garden. I always seemed to play well here. I liked going to Boston Garden when I was in Buffalo. I liked playing in Chicago. Smaller rinks, the crowd, the atmosphere was kind of fun.”
Most Memorable Goal: “(Pause)…I had so many (87 in 1,185 games over 18 NHL seasons), I can’t even tell you all of them (smiles). I’m trying to think back to some of the goals. I scored a few playoff goals (eight). Nothing that earth-shattering. One night I had two against Philly in the regular season. My parents were at the game. I had two goals early in the game. It was kind of my night, going my way. Then I kind of stopped shooting and pass, pass, pass. Then I had a chance to shoot with a minute left. And I passed it. And my dad was livid at me. ‘Why didn’t you shoot for the hat trick?’ I had a couple two-goal games, scored a few late goals in playoffs. The one against (Patrick) Roy, he said, ‘you’ll never do that again’ (laughs). But nothing that you could go home and you’re remembered for.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. Good person. Good work ethic.”
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