Status: Former NHL right winger for Toronto, New York and Winnipeg.
Ht: 5-feet-10 Wt: 200 pounds
DOB: Nov. 1, 1969 In: Windsor, Ont.
Hockey Inspirations: “Tiger Williams, Paul Holmgren and Bobby Clarke. They weren’t the most talented, they worked hard for everything they got and they showed up for every game.”
First Hockey Memory: “I started to play when I was nine because all my friends played. When I was in peewee, we were in the semifinals for all of Ontario. All of Ontario. Game seven, double overtime and I scored the winner and we went on to win the championship in four straight. Highlight of my career as a kid. I was a scorer as a kid.”
Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “Golf, spending time with my kids.”
Nicknames: “Tugger. I don’t know why. Dave Shaw started calling me that.”
Favorite Movies: “Goodfellas, The Godfather, Slapshot.”
All-Time Favorite TV Shows: “Happy Days, Baretta.”
Musical Tastes: “Eagles.”
Pregame Feeling: “Try to think about what I have to do on the ice. Stay focused. Try not too think too much. Mark Messier used to always say, ‘Don’t think, just play.’ Believe it or not, it really helped. I used to be a real rah-rah guy. But I changed. I calmed down a lot. Became more subtle in the dressing room. Different ways of preparing myself. Another thing Messier said to me was, ‘Get rid of those damn superstitions. You’re young, by the time you’re 30 you’ll drive yourself crazy.’ And it’s true, too. I saw guys and they have to do everything in so many different ways. And I just laughed. I was the same way at one time. I had a couple like everyone else but not 10 or 20 like some guys.”
Favorite Meal: “Chicken parmesan.”
Greatest Sports Moments: “Getting drafted to the NHL in the second round by Toronto. Winning the Presidents’ Trophy as a New York Ranger (1992).”
Most Painful Moment: “Breaking my ankle in junior; fell the wrong way in a rut. Missed six weeks.”
Closest Hockey Friend(s): “Wendel Clark, Adam Graves.”
Toughest Competitors Encountered: “Mark Messier definitely. Just so competitive. He hates losing. I played with him for a few years and I learned more from him than anybody, on and off the ice. Spent a lot of time with him. I don’t think there’s a more competitive guy in professional sports. I think he’s one of the all-time greatest athletes ever.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “Lindy Ruff and Mark Hardy, when I was with the Rangers, they used to always pull practical jokes on me. They did everything to me. You name it and they did it. One time Lindy Ruff sewed my pants on me. Back of my pants. I didn’t know it was there. I couldn’t see it. I was walking through the crowd, signing autographs in San Diego for an exhibition game. Every time I walked by someone, they laughed at me. I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Finally, I get on the bus and the whole bus is howling at me. Tony Amonte is just dying – and he’s got the loudest laugh in the world. I’m looking…what the hell is it? Finally I took my pants and then I saw it. Uggghh. He did a good job. One of the most embarrassing moments.”
Favorite Arenas To Play: “Madison Square Garden and Joe Louis Arena.”
Favorite Players To Watch: “John McEnroe was my all-time favorite. So competitive; he hated losing. Got real carried away sometimes, but he did anything to win. I really believe in that. I’ll do anything to win. Just the way I am and will always be. Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier – it was an honor being on the ice with those three. New York Yankees. I liked Deion Sanders, too. He was a little cocky, didn’t care what people thought. I like that. I used to be like that. When you’re trying to get that extra attention, you don’t have respect for your peers. In hockey, it’s different. We’re all very humble guys. Hockey is such a humble sport. Because everybody’s clock is ticking and once it stops, it stops. That’s it. We’re all in the same boat. Most of us were brought up the same way. We’re like a big fraternity. But on the ice, it’s like war.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “My father (John). He was fearless. He escaped from Albania with nothing and he came to Canada and worked to get everything he had to give his family a good life.”
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