Fascinating Fact #1 I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once, when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time. The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a lttle, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.
Fascinating Fact #2 Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away last year, introduced me once to goaltender Richard Brodeur. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh, I don’t want to talk to you.”
Fascinating Fact #3 I was once introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.
Fascinating Fact #4 A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970′s and to crack the Habs line up, you pretty well had to be a Guy Lafleur, so French decided to sign with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.
Fascinating Fact #5 Rick Ley lived around the corner from me growing up. We sometimes skated on the big outdoor rink near us, before school. Ley also pitched a ball to me one summer which the batter fouled off into my mouth and knocked my front tooth out.
Fascinating Fact #6 The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge. This was in the late 1970′s.
The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at one end.
Most games I’ve gone to, however, were usually way, way up.
Fascinating Fact #7 Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.
Fascinating Fact #8 Gary Lupul told me once that the guy he made sure he didn’t piss off on the ice because the guy was simply too big and scary, was Clark Gillies of the Islanders.