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Old 11-05-2004, 08:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Backchecking With Bob Clarke

Clarke talks about his days in Flin Flon, his playing career and life as a general manager

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com


Bob Clarke has been a member of the Flyers organization for the past 33 years.

Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke recently sat down for an in-depth interview with philadelphiaflyers.com to discuss his days in Flin Flon, his playing days and his present position with the Flyers.

Question: What have you been doing during the lockout?

Clarke: There is a little bit to do because the Phantoms have started to play, but there is not a whole lot that we can do concerning the Flyers. We get to play a little golf this time of year and that is something we have not had the opportunity to do in 35 years. It is not what we want to do, but it is something to do.”

Question: Let’s start from the beginning. What was it like growing up in Flin Flon, Manitoba?

Clarke: “Flin Flon was a great place to grow up. Back in those days, we did not have a television in our house until I was 12 or 13 years old. We played sports, whether it was hockey, baseball or fishing. We also could go back in the bush and hunt. In a small town like Flin Flon, we had the freedom to jump on our bikes and go anywhere we wanted. We did not have to have constant parental supervision. Flin Flon was small enough that we didn’t need our parents driving us everywhere. As kids, we did it on our own. Every kid in town was like that.”

Question: When did you start playing hockey?

Clarke: “I put skates on when I was about three years old, as did all the other young kids in Flin Flon. We played on the outdoor ice at the rink at the end of our street. I did this until I was about eight and then I started playing organized hockey on Saturday mornings at the indoor rink. The rest of the time was spent at the outdoor ice.”

Question: Do you still stay in touch with any of your childhood friends?

Clarke: “Yes. I go back every two or three years and see them. There are a lot of guys that I grew up with who are still there. Some of them have spent their whole lives working in the mines and raising their families in Flin Flon. They all still love hockey and when I go back, we always have fun stuff to talk about. I really enjoy going back there.”

Question: When did you realize that you had what it took to make it to the NHL?

Clarke: “I was so far removed from professional hockey that I didn’t realize I had a chance until I attended my first professional training camp when the Flyers drafted me. I knew at that stage that I could compete, at least at the American Hockey League level. I had seen a couple of NHL games when I was 18 or 19, but by watching them you have no way of knowing how good you are. I never thought I was going to make the Flyers’ final team roster. I thought I would be sent down to the Quebec Aces. I was lucky and I ended up with the Flyers that year.”

Question: Were you concerned about playing with diabetes?

Clarke: “Not at all. I was diagnosed as a diabetic when I was 13 or 14 years old. The doctors assured me that diabetes would not stop me from playing sports. There were things that I had to do to take care of myself, but being diabetic never affected me playing hockey.”

Question: Were your parents concerned about you being a diabetic and playing hockey?

Clarke: “Diabetes was not as well known as it is today, so it worried my mom to death. In those days, it was all about eating special foods. My foods had to be weighed. I had to take a shot every day. But it never bothered me to take a shot or not eat sugar. It was just something I had to do to live.”

Question: What advise would you give an athlete or the parents of an athlete who has diabetes?

Clarke: “The way that I approached being diabetic was that I has a hockey player who happened to have diabetes. I never considered myself a ‘diabetic hockey player.’ I had to do things, health-wise, concerning my diabetes, but I never let it stop me from playing or from doing anything. You can do or try anything you want and still have diabetes, just make sure you treat your diabetes. Being a diabetic is certainly no reason to give up doing things that you enjoy, other than drinking Cokes and eating chocolate bars.”

Question: When you were named captain of the Flyers in 1972, you were the youngest captain ever for the Flyers. Were you a vocal or quiet captain?

Clarke: “I was not the most vocal person in the locker room. Joe Watson was the vocal guy. But I was never afraid to stand up and say what was on my mind. I was taught my whole career to be a good team player and good team players are people who respect and support what the coach is trying to do. You follow what message the coach is trying to convey and you make sure the other players follow, too. I never thought a lot about being team captain. Actually, the first time they offered the “C” to me I turned it down. We had a good captain (Ed Van Impe) and they didn’t need me. (Head Coach) Freddie Shero forced me to take it, but I never viewed myself as a leader. I was a player on the team who did what was necessary to try and win games.”

Question: You “did what was necessary to try and win games”…hmmm…were you considered a dirty player?

Clarke: (Laughs) “I was accused of being a dirty player. My philosophy was always ‘get the other guy first and let him try and get even.’ I used whatever methods, right or not so right, it took to try and win games. Sometimes I probably stretched the rules a bit.”

Question: Obviously, if you were asked about your fondest memories of playing in the NHL, you would state winning two Stanley Cups. But, do you have a single memory during the Stanley Cup Finals that you will never forget?

Clarke: “One memory in particular took place the third game back here at the Spectrum. The series was tied at one game apiece against the Bruins and (Bill) Barber went down the side and fired a wrist shot at Bruins goaltender Gilles Gilbert. Billy really had a great slapshot, but never wristed it as much as he slapped it. This time, he wristed a shot and fired the puck into the top of the net. It was like a rocket. It wouldn’t have mattered if Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito were both in the net. That puck was going in, regardless. I was on the ice so I had a great view. That goal was so impressive to me. The other great memory was when the Bruins series had just ended and Joe Watson was behind the net with the puck. That’s embedded in my mind.”

Question: Same question, but it is the Summit Series.

Clarke: “The Summit Series was an extremely violent series. We really got our (butts) kicked the first game in Montreal. It was a shock to our team and the hockey world. At one point during the next game, we were shorthanded and Peter Mahovlich took the puck from our end and went through their whole team and scored. You can watch hockey for 10 years and never see anybody skate through the whole team and score a goal when you’re shorthanded like that. It was one of those great moments that you are a part of. Even though I was watching, it remains in my mind forever.”

Question: Who is the best player you have ever faced?

Clarke: “Up until Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr was the best player I have ever seen. If there was another league above the NHL, Orr belonged there. He was that much better than the rest of us.”

Question: One of the most famous photographs in Flyers history is a photo of you and Bernie Parent holding up the Stanley Cup and you have this huge toothless smile. Do you remember when you lost your first tooth in hockey?

Clarke: “Sure. I was practicing in juniors with the Flin Flon Bombers and I was cruising through the middle of the ice and one of my buddies, Craig Reichmuth, came through and drilled me in the face with his shoulder and knocked my tooth out. It was a good, clean check. I got up and swore at him and he said, ‘well, keep your God (darned) head up!’ It was a good lesson for me. Gerry Hart (another Bomber teammate) got me and knocked another tooth out. The same thing happened. I wasn’t paying attention and he drilled me. That was another good lesson for me. I lost another tooth when I got hit with a puck in Minnesota. Al MacAdam (former Flyer) went to fire the puck out and I wasn’t looking and it hit me right in the mouth. I wasn’t even on the ice. I was sitting on the bench. The whole tooth flew out onto the ice. It looked like a dentist had pulled it out with a pair of pliers. The linesman picked it up off the ice and skated over to the bench and handed it to me. I have only lost four teeth, but I think that photo makes it look like I lost more. And, no, I didn’t keep my tooth the linesman gave me.”

Question: Do you have any regrets from either your playing days or since becoming general manager?

Clarke: “In the last 35 years, I don’t know if there has been another team in the NHL that has won more games than the Flyers so I have had lots of things to be happy about. Do I wish I played a couple of more years? Probably. Do I wish I could take back the Dave Poulin trade? Yes. Do I wish I could take back the Brad McCrimmon trade? Yes. But overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Question: Speaking of trades, what is the best trade you ever made?

Clarke: “The best deal we made for the Flyers was when we got (John) LeClair and (Eric) Desjardins from Montreal. We were a team going nowhere. We were something like 3-7 starting off the season. That trade changed the whole atmosphere and confidence level of our entire organization. Desjardins was an all-star and LeClair was about to turn into one. We had no idea that LeClair was going to be that good. But that deal turned out pretty good.”

Question: What don’t you like about being general manager?

Clarke: “There was a time when the agents first started in the business where it was real ugly from both sides. You were always in squabbles with agents and that got frustrating. That was a tough time. Both sides now, managers and agents, are much more professional. Everything is based on what has already happened. It makes it easier for both sides.”

Question: Could the two Flyers teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1973-74 and 1974-75 compete in today’s NHL?

Clarke: “We would only be kidding ourselves if we think the players 30 years ago were as good as they are today. In those days, we were a great team. Everybody contributed and everybody had their roles and that is what makes a winning team. But we would never be able to compete with the Flyers teams of today. We were not nearly big enough or fast enough for this type of modern day hockey. Hockey is played by much bigger men. They shoot the puck harder; they do everything faster and it is a much different game. I suppose the game will be much different 25 to 30 years from now, too.”

Question: You have a special relationship with Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. How did you guys become such good friends and can you beat him in either tennis or golf?

Clarke: (Laughs) “I’ll kick his (butt) in golf because he doesn’t play, but he would do the same to me in tennis because I don’t play. Our relationship started a long time ago. Even though I was an employee, there was the same commitment to winning. Mr. Snider gave us the ability to trust him. He never let us down. He never did anything that wasn’t good for us as individuals and as a team. Mr. Snider took his responsibility as an owner very seriously. We were the first team in the league that was really treated first class the whole way. Our wives and children were treated the same way. He wanted to win as badly as we did. He was the reason we won. We can talk about Bernie (Parent) in goal, (Rick) MacLeish, (Reggie) Leach, Barber and myself, but if we didn’t have Ed Snider we could not have won those two Stanley Cups.”
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Old 11-07-2004, 06:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Cool read. 8)

Just a couple of things....are there any teams who have won more games in the last 35 years than the Flyers? How is it he doesn't know exactly how old he was when he was diagnosed with diabetes but he can pin point when he lost a tooth? Also how was Clarke a member of the Flyers organization for the last 33 years when he was GM of the Florida Panthers?
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Old 03-23-2005, 12:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Backchecking With:



Former Flyer and current broadcaster talks about his career and life after hockey

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com

Propp was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in March of 1999.

Q: What have you been doing to keep busy?

Propp:"Since the end of last season, I've been doing some work with AFLAC in market development. AFLAC is supplemental health insurance that employees can purchase. Basically, I open the doors to business owners and bring the people in to explain the product. In the last few months, I have also partnered with Harbor Lights Financial Group (www.hlfg.com) in Manasquan, NJ (brian.propp@hlfg.com)(800-995-4534). I have acquired all my licensing and I am now a financial advisor. This is my full-time job and fits nicely with me working with AFLAC because they do not compete against each other. Both of these organizations can help companies to hopefully both save and make money. I am also working with www.SimplyAwesome.com. This is a web site that Dave Schultz, Bernie Parent and Bob Kelly are also involved with. SimplyAwesome.com is a web site that people can go to and book people like us for appearances. There is also some sports memorabilia on the site available for purchase."

Q: How is your family?

Propp: "They are doing great. I have been enjoying my time with my son, Jackson (6) and daughter, Paige (8). I have been coaching them in hockey this year. They actually play together on the mite team. My wife, Kris, is continuing with her graphic arts business and taking care of the three of us. She is wonderful."

Q: You always seem to be in shape. Are you playing hockey these days?

Propp: "Yes. I am very active with the Flyers Legends team (formerly the Flyers Alumni). Joe Watson sets up the games. I believe I have played in every game this year. It is a lot of fun and does keep me in shape. These games keep us in contact with each other. I really enjoy those nights out raising money for various charities. I have been a lot more involved with this because I have more free time. It is nice to be able to give this type of entertainment back to Flyers fans because of all the support that they have given us throughout the years. I appreciate meeting the fans and the chance to tell a few stories. The stories are getting better as I am getting older."

Q: You are probably one of the youngest players on the team. Are you a "ringer?"

Propp: "Yes (laughs). They bring me in for the tough games. If we have to turn it up a notch, I say, 'pass me the puck,' because I still love to score goals and do the guffaw (laughs)! We really do not lose too many games and we are entertaining to watch. We enjoy the people that we meet and play against. It is all going for a good cause. Golf season is right around the corner so we will get to be involved with a lot of charity golf events as it gets warmer."

Q: You mentioned the “guffaw.” How did that come about?

Propp: "Scott McKay and I went to see comedian Howie Mandell in concert at Atlantic City in 1986. Howie explained what a guffaw was, which is the left to right short hand movement where you raise your arm toward the ceiling. I thought it was pretty cool and I thought that I could use a little more personality after I scored a goal. I incorporated the guffaw as part of my celebration. I started the guffaw the following year after I scored my first goal of the season. I never intended it to be an ‘in your face’ type of celebration in front of the opponents. I would do it more toward center ice. The guffaw caught on and I continued doing it ever since. I also do it when I am golfing at charity outings when I would make a great shot, perhaps a birdie. I will do it every once in a while when I am playing for the Alumni, too. The guffaw is just a personality trait that has followed me around."

Q: When did you lace up your first pair of skates?

Propp: "Growing up in Saskatchewan, everyone either played hockey or curled. The winters are eight out of 12 months up north starting at Halloween and ending around Easter. I was about four years old when I learned how to tie my first pair of skates. They shoved us out the door and we could not skate until we shoveled the snow off the pond. We would spend more time cleaning the frozen pond with the snow shovels than we actually did playing. I lived in a town of about 300 people and there were about eight or nine boys that were the same age so we could actually field a hockey team. Skating was a part of life."

Q: Did you follow the NHL when you were younger?

Propp: "I did not really follow the NHL that much. I would watch a game every once in a while, but not very much."

Q: Talk about your progression up through the playing ranks.

Propp:
"I had played for a junior A team, the Melville Millionaires when I was 15 years old before I went to the Western Hockey League. I broke the scoring record that year for the Millionaires when I scored 172 points in 68 games. The following three seasons I played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. It was not until I started playing for the Wheat Kings that I really started watching and thinking about playing in the NHL. We had a tremendous hockey team at Brandon. My first year in the league our centerman Billy Derlago was first in the league in scoring, (future Flyers teammate) Ray Allison was second and I was third. The following two years I led the league in scoring and Allison was second. Brad McCrimmon (another future Flyers teammate) was also on those teams. It was during this time that I realized that I had a pretty good chance of breaking into the NHL. When the NHL draft arrived in 1979, the two leagues merged and the age limit dropped to 18. I was fortunate enough to be drafted by the Flyers in the first round (14th overall). They were a great team and I was the right fit and was the type of player that they were looking for so I made the team."

Q: You were a rookie on the team and the Flyers go on a record-setting 35-game undefeated streak. How cool was that?

Propp: "It was pretty amazing. I scored the game-winning goal and had an assist in our first home game that year against the NY Islanders. My line mates were Bob Clarke and Reggie Leach. Our second game of the year, we went to Atlanta and lost 9-2. We only lost five out of 72 games my last year in juniors, so I was not used to coming in second. I was thinking, 'is this what the NHL is going to be like?' Then we went on the streak and ended up making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Islanders."

Q: I guess it is pretty easy to remember your first NHL goal.

Propp: "Yes. It was against NY Islanders goaltender Billy Smith. It was in my first game, second period, assisted by Bob Clarke and Reggie Leach."

Q: You spent 15 years in the NHL. Does anything special stick out?

Propp: "You tend to have a lot of memories when you have been in the league for that long. The vivid memory that I have when I played for the Flyers was when we lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. We came close a couple of times. I am very disappointed that I was not able to attain the Cup for the fans and everybody involved. I will always remember my goal in Game Six of the 1987 Finals when we tied the Edmonton Oilers. I scored our second goal to even the score at 2-2. About three minutes later, J.J. Daigneault scored to make it 3-2 to force a Game Seven. For about 10 minutes straight, the noise in the Spectrum was so incredibly loud. That was something that I will never forget. After we lost to Edmonton in Game Seven, I was selected to play for Team Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup and ended up playing on a line with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky throughout most of the tournament. Rick Tocchet, Ron Hextall and Doug Crossman were also on that team and our coach was Mike Keenan. We beat the Russian team two out of three games and all of the games ended with a score of 6-5. It was probably the best hockey I have ever been associated with. The nice thing about that was being on the winning side. The champagne was flowing and to experience that feeling was awesome. I also remember when I played for Team Canada and we won the Spangler Cup in Switzerland in 1992. Once you get that winning feeling, you never forget it and those are the memories that you like to hang on to."

Q: A few years back, you were named to the Canadian Junior All-Time Team along with Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Dennis Potvin and Bernie Parent. That is quite a who's who among hockey legends.

Propp:
"That announcement was made back in 1999. It really was a tremendous honor. MasterCard sponsored this and they took a look back at all the leagues and all of the players and they picked the best of every team. They picked an all-time team from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and from that they combined the three leagues to come up with one all-time team. I was fortunate enough to be selected. That spans over 80 years. To me, that was an honor a lot like I would imagine being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame would feel like. These players were the elite of the elite and to be part of that in Ottawa was a couple of days that my wife, Kris, and I will cherish forever."

Q: You are ranked second all-time in goals (389), second in assists (480) and third in scoring (849) on the Flyers All-Time Lists. Did you think that your NHL career would be this productive and over so many years?

Propp:
"When I broke into the NHL, my game plan was to play for about 15 years and that is exactly how many I played. Back then when players would turn 35, that was basically the time to hang up your skates. Now, with the expansion to 30 teams and athletes taking better care of themselves, they can play until they are around 40. I stayed for exactly how long I wanted and was able to leave on good terms. I achieved what I had set out to do. Overall, I was very happy to score over 1,000 points (425 goals, 579 assists) and play over 1,000 games (1,016). Even though I was never on a Stanley Cup-winning team, I did have the chance to play in five Finals. I believe I am still in the top 35 among all-time playoff goal leaders (tied for 20th with 64 goals), playoff assist leaders (31st with 84 assists) and playoff points leaders (26th with 148 points). Playoffs show what type of person you are because you have to perform even better than the regular
season."



Q: From what do you attribute your success?

Propp:
"Probably desire, work ethic and God-given talent. I was also fortunate enough to have had good coaching throughout my career. Coming to the NHL and having leaders in the locker room like Bob Clarke, Bill Barber, Bob Kelly and all the rest, I was able to learn by example. I kind of modeled myself after Clarke. He always worked as hard in practice as he did in a game. Another person that I should give credit in helping me stay healthy for all those years was Pat Croce. He joined the Flyers around 1981. Up until that point, I never had a workout regimen and he started a program for me. I took that seriously and it probably added four or five years to my career. Before Croce, I was getting by on talent and going back to the farm in the summer and hauling bales of hay to keep in shape. He came in with a whole different attitude and that helped me. I think Croce furthered a lot of other guys careers on the team, too."

Q: Who has been the most influential coach during your career?

Propp:
"Probably former NHL defenseman Dunc McCallum, who coached me for three seasons in juniors. He was very good technically and defensively. He treated our team with the utmost respect and prepared us for the NHL. We actually had 10 guys on our team that got drafted the year that I was drafted, including four players being selected in the first round. That is unheard of today. He set the standard early on so when I arrived in the NHL there were not any surprises."

Q: Have you ever thought about coaching?
Propp:
"I went over to southern France as a player-coach one year after I finished playing during the last lockout in 1995. I would have considered an assistant coach job focusing on special teams, but I really did not want to be a head coach. But, yes, today I would be interested. I know the game, I know the players. I have been doing radio for the Flyers for the past six years, so I have a good feel for everyone. It would be something that I would definitely consider."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

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Old 04-27-2005, 02:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Backchecking with Bill Barber


Bill Barber at his induction into the Phantoms Hall of Fame with his son, Brooks, and his daughter, Kerri.

Backchecking With Bill Barber

Hockey Hall of Famer talks about his beginning, his career with the Flyers and life after hockey

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com


Bill Barber played 12 seasons for the Flyers after being the team's first round choice, seventh overall, in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft. He retired as the team's all-time leader in goals with 420 and was inducted into the Flyers (1989) and Hockey (1990) Halls of Fame.

After ending his playing career, Barber served in a variety of roles for the Flyers organization, including assistant coach for the Flyers, Phantoms head coach and Flyers head coach. Barber is currently the Tampa Bay Lightning's director of player personnel.

He recently sat down with philadelphiaflyers.com to discuss his life on and off the ice.

Question: You have quite a tan. Are you spending a lot of time at the beach in Tampa?

Barber:
“I have a home just south of Tampa, so when I have to go to Florida I try to enjoy the beach if I have some free time. I am still scouting for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I am currently scouting in the AHL, ECHL and the UHL.”

Question: When the Lightning won the Cup last season, you had the chance to have the Stanley Cup. What did you do with it?

Barber:
“I took the Cup back to a community center in Callander, Ontario, Canada. We actually had to turn the line away because there were so many people there. I also took it to the Callander Tavern, which was a place that my family has frequented over the years. My dad use to visit the tavern in his prime and a lot of his old cronies and my special friends got the chance to see the Cup. Unfortunately, my kids (daughter Kerri and son Brooks) could not be there, so I am going to have the chance to have the Cup again this summer so the Cup will be with strictly my family.”

Question: The Montreal Canadians had three of the first eight picks in 1972. You were selected seventh overall. Did you think that you were going to Montreal?

Barber:
“Yes. Montreal had the fourth, sixth and eighth pick in the first round that year and I snuck in between sixth and eighth and was able to come to the expansion Flyers who were on the rise. They had a great owner (and still do), Ed Snider, general manager, Keith Allen, and head coach, Fred Shero. These are three gentlemen who I have had the utmost respect for throughout my career.”

Question: Boston Bruins great defenseman Bobby Orr calls your wrist shot goal against Bruins goalie Gilles Gilbert in the third period of Game Four during the 1974 Finals as “the best wrist shot I’ve ever seen.” Can you tell us about that?

Barber:
“This was an amazing compliment from probably the greatest hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates. He probably said that because we’re actually distant related (laughs). It was a special goal in that it proved to be the game-winning goal. I’ll admit it was a freak goal. The puck came off the wall funny and I was able to get off the shot. The puck rolled up to my stick and I wristed it. Sometimes the puck does weird things. The puck took off like a rocket. Gilles Gilbert was screened at the time and the puck was in and out of the net in an instant. Gilles never moved.”

Question: What was it like being one-third of the LCB (Leach, Clarke, Barber) line?

Barber:
“We had a unique line. We were three different types of players that had unity. We complemented one another extremely well. I would honestly put our line up against any line of today or yesteryear. Our plus/minus was phenomenal. We probably could have done even better offensively with more goals, but the team always came first and we played for the Flyers team.”

Question: You are still the team’s all-time leader in goals with 420.

Barber:
“Bad goaltending (laughs).”

Question: Are you surprised you still have the record?

Barber:
“Yes, I am. Things have changed and the game has gotten tighter, but it was tight when we played too. I wish that I could have been healthy back then. If I was I could have played longer, maybe played 18 to 20 years. It would have been kind of cool to score 500 goals, but my wheels were falling off. I pushed it long enough. I got credit for playing 13 years in the league, but I really only played 12. One year I was hampered with a knee injury. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing.”

Question: How are your knees and health now?

Barber:
“Not very good. It is difficult at times. There are times that I wish I could get out on the ice and skate with the Flyers Alumni, but I’m not stable enough. I have to be careful on what I can and cannot do. I am not complaining by any means, though.”

Question: You were in a serious automobile accident in the summer of 1999. Are those injuries lingering?

Barber:
“Yes, there are still some repercussions from that accident. Overall, I was lucky to come out of that alive. I highly recommend everyone to wear seat belts. I had mine on and that is what saved my life.”

Question: What happened that day?

Barber:
“First off, I was not speeding or anything like that. I was driving my son’s truck and I got down in the soft shoulder of the road and lost control. The truck ended up on its roof. I went over hard and I was kind of crushed down into the seat. It took me some time to free myself and I was able to crawl out of the vehicle. I got a pretty bad concussion and the neck still acts up.”

Question: When did you begin playing hockey?

Barber:
“I lived in a small community and we had a small ice rink which we played on. When the rink was unavailable, we would skate on the lake when it froze. I played hockey in my town until I was 17 and then I played junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons. I played three seasons in Kitchener after being drafted by them in 1969. I was drafted by the Flyers seventh overall in 1972.”

Question: Kitchener is where you met your future wife, Jenny. How did you two meet?

Barber:
“It is funny how that happened. Jenny and I went to the same high school. We were buddies in the early stages of our friendship. At the time, I was the captain of the hockey team and she was the head of her sorority. We had a party at one of the houses and all the guys and girls showed up and that’s how she and I met. We started dating and dating eventually led to marriage. She was a special person. She was very mature, organized and had an outstanding personality. We hit it off and had some great times.” (Sadly, Jenny Barber passed away on December 8, 2001.)

Question: You and Jenny had two children who both still live in the Philadelphia area. What are they doing?

Barber:
“My daughter, Kerri, is 30 years old and my son, Brooks, is almost 28. Kerri is married and has two sons, Conner (2) and Cameron who is not a year old. I am a proud grandfather and they are a big part of my life. In certain times, you need things and I sure need these kids. Brooks is the free-spirited one. Kerri works for Comcast SportsNet at the Wachovia Center and Brooks works for Hardenbergh Insurance in New Jersey.”

Question: How proud are you of the fact that you played your entire NHL career with one team?

Barber:
“I am very proud of that. I am very proud to say that as a player and later as a front office employee that I was involved with the Flyers for 30 years. It’s something that I cherish and promote. I am a company man. When I start something, I want to finish it. To play my whole career with the Flyers was great. They were great years. I would liked to been involved in winning the Cup in another capacity with the Flyers like I have been as a scout with Tampa Bay. I know how the city of Philadelphia would react and it would be something unique.”

Question: You are the only person inducted into the Flyers and the Phantoms Halls of Fame. How does that feel?

Barber:
“I am very tickled to be inducted into both. I was the Phantoms’ inaugural head coach in 1996 and we won the Calder Cup in 1998. I am very honored and pleased. I enjoy being around the area and I miss the people that I have worked with for so many years. I love it in Tampa, but I do hope that the Flyers get the chance to win another Stanley Cup and the Phantoms win another Calder Cup.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

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I put all the backchecking threads together and changed the topic to Backchecking with:


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Bill Clement was a member of both of the Flyers' Stanley Cup Championship teams.

Former Flyer talks about his hockey and broadcasting careers

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com

Bill Clement was the Flyers' second round choice (18th overall) in the 1970 Amateur Draft. After one season with the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League, Clement joined the Flyers for the 1971-72 season. He played four seasons with the Flyers (1971-72 through 1974-75) and was a member of both of the Flyers' Stanley Cup Championship teams. After concluding an 11-year NHL career, Clement rejoined the Flyers organization for the 1988-89 season as the team's television color commentator, a position that he held for five seasons.

He is currently the lead game analyst for ESPN's NHL telecasts and he also announces the Great Outdoor Games and the Bassmaster Classic for ESPN.

Clement recently sat down to answer a few questions about his life with philadelphiaflyers.com.

Question: How did you get involved in broadcasting?

Clement:
“I always prided myself in being a good communicator. I got into the restaurant business in Atlanta and promptly plunged into corporate and personal financial ruin --- bankruptcy. Then my girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife, Cissie, and I moved to New York where I began pursuing an acting career. At that stage, I was taking whatever acting gigs I could get my hands on. I was doing network and local commercials, the soap opera “All My Children,” and industrial film narrations. This was all going very well. One day in the mid 1980s, the telephone rang and it was ESPN calling. They asked me if I wanted to audition for a job as a television color analyst. By that time, the notion for auditioning for my lunch and my rent every week had grown a little stale and I told them I was interested. The audition actually turned out to be a ‘live’ hockey game on television. The venue was Chicago Stadium when the Blackhawks hosted the Minnesota North Stars. I was scared to death, but it worked out.”

Question: Were you apprehensive about moving to New York?

Clement:
“I had nothing to lose at that point. Otherwise I would not have tried it. I had $4,000 to my name that I kept in a steel box in the attic of this tiny apartment that I rented. I had no job, no training, no college education and no career.”

Question: Isn’t that a recipe for disaster?

Clement:
“Yes. I was doing some acting in Atlanta, but I wanted to see if I was good enough to compete in New York. I asked some of the talent agents in Atlanta who represented me if I was good enough and they reassured me that I was. But one of the steps that I did not realize I was taking was that I cut off all avenues of retreat. I rented a U-Haul truck, drove to New York and found a little, second floor row house apartment in Queens. We did not even have our own thermostat in the apartment. The thermostat was located on the first floor. We froze our butts off for the first three months that we were there because the landlord turned the heat down because he had no renters in the first floor apartment.”

Question: Was there a lot of penny pinching back then?

Clement:
“Yes. I remember how thrilled I was when I came busting through our little second floor apartment door and exclaimed, ‘Cissie, you’ll never believe this. I found a 10-pound bag of rice for $1.69!’”

Question: Since you lacked experience, did ESPN give you any pointers as to what type of announcer they were looking for?

Clement:
“Yes. I asked them what they were looking for and they said they wanted me to educate people without offending the educated hockey viewer. If I was going to educate the uneducated, I tried to do it in a humorous way. You want to make sure that you are not using jargon that excludes people from understanding, but at the same time, you do not want to make it too basic.”

Question: Are you a perfectionist?

Clement:
“Yes, by nature I am. I am a very detailed-oriented person. Things that might be minutia to somebody else might be important to me. I do not leave anything to the imagination. You have to know what you are preparing for before you determine how to prepare. You start with the end in mind.”

Question: How did you develop this philosophy?

Clement:
“My philosophy on being prepared and organized is my own. I learned a long time ago that broadcasters I aspired not to be like were the ones that came across as artificial and stiff and have difficulty connecting with their audience. That is why I think Coatesy (Flyers television announcer Steve Coates) does such a good job. He is real. You want to be real enough so that viewers can see the person inside of the announcer. It is one thing to be technically perfect, but it is not good if people cannot connect with you. The broadcasters that I aspired to be like were the people that I thought were friendly, natural and the most approachable. Coatesy is one of those.”

Question: Any national broadcasters come to mind?

Clement:
“Al Michaels is tremendous. John Madden is good, but I think he can talk for a couple of minutes and not say very much. But at least he is a real guy. John Davidson is really good at being a natural. Mike Emrick, Gary Thorne and Jim Jackson are all terrific.”

Question: You grew up in the French-speaking town of Thurso, Quebec, where you and Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur were line mates for a couple of seasons. Was Guy that good back then?

Clement:
“He was unbelievable. On more than one occasion, I remember beating teams 7-0 and Guy having seven goals and me having seven assists. I would pass it to him in the neutral zone and let him take care of the rest.”

Question: What was it like growing up in a French-speaking town?

Clement:
“I was not invited to participate for the town’s hockey team until I was 12 years old. It was a French-Catholic-English-Protestant issue more than anything. I was in a very pronounced English Protestant minority. In a small, paper mill town of 3,000 people between Ottawa and Montreal, English kids simply were not invited to play for the town’s hockey team. When I was 12, they had a change of heart and let us English kids try-out. That is probably why I did not have many offensive skills. I could skate like the wind, but I always thought defensively. When the Flyers drafted me, I spent the first season in the minors. They did not let me kill any penalties and made me play on every power play so I could work on my offense. No pun intended, but that really killed me inside because I loved killing penalties. They wanted me to make it to the NHL, so I was not going to argue with their decision-making.”

Question: Since you never had the big numbers (goals/statistics) in juniors, was it an afterthought of breaking into the NHL?

Clement:
“I do not remember saying this, but at a school reunion my friends told me that when I was eight or nine years old I told them that someday I was going to play in the NHL. I did not say this in a ****y, confident way. If anything, I lacked confidence. I was a workaholic and worked my tail off to make it happen. If a player is worth a penny, it is all about the team and not about the individual. Group achievements are what players live for. But, if I have to look back at any of my individual achievements, one of my proudest is the fact that I never scored 20 goals per season at any level until I made it to the NHL, where I had two 20-goal seasons. It is usually the other way around. When people ask if scorers are born or made, I can honestly say both, because I was not a born scorer.”

Question: Are you for rule changes to make the game more exciting?

Clement:
“Yes. I cannot wait. We need to challenge the record book. God forbid we should come close to any one of Gretzky’s records, but we have to find ways to do that. Our culture craves glamour. There is nothing glamorous about 41-goal scorers, which is what the NHL goal scoring leaders had last year.” (Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk led the NHL last season with 41 goals apiece).

Question: What have you been doing since the lockout?

Clement:
“I have been doing some professional public speaking and that takes me to different parts of the country. I do not call them motivational presentations. I call them human development because I endeavor to leave an audience with substance, memories and tools that may come in handy later in life. I have spoken all over the place, including St. Thomas, Las Vegas and have an engagement coming up in Palm Springs. The lockout also has allowed to me to spend some quality time with my family. That is something that has not happened much during hockey season.”

Question: Any children?

Clement:
“Yes. Cissie and I have three daughters, Regan (31), Christa (30), Savannah (16) and one son, Chase (15).”

Question: How can people keep up with Bill Clement?

Clement:
“I have my own website, www.billclement.com. There are some commercials that I have done on the web site and other information about me.”

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

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Default Backchecking with the Hammer

Backchecking With Dave Schultz

Former Flyer talks about being a stand-up guy on the ice, a stand-up comic off the ice and life after hockey

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com

Dave "The Hammer" Schultz played just five seasons for the Flyers (1971-72 through 1975-76), but left a lasting impression. After being the Flyers' fifth-round selection in the 1969 Amateur Draft, Schultz led the league in penalty minutes for six consecutive seasons (with the Salem Rebels of the EHL in 1969-70, the Quebec Aces of the AHL in 1970-71, the Richmond Robins of the AHL in 1971-72 and the Flyers in 1972-73 through 1974-75). He is fifth on the team's All-Time List in penalty minutes with 1,386 and he still holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a season with 472 during the 1974-75 season.

Q: You have been a pretty busy fellow. Can you give us an update on what you have been doing with yourself?

Schultz:
“I started Champion Limousines in 1986, which I still own and operate out of South Jersey. I also operate Hammer Enterprises, which develops, creates and markets sports memorabilia and collectibles, promotions for corporations and organizations with my main focus on public speaking. I have taken a six-week course in stand-up comedy and recently had three, five-minute stand-up comedy gigs. I am also a partner in the real estate firm, Atlantic Properties that serves the Delaware Valley. On top of all this, I am the president of the Flyers Alumni Association and have been actively involved in marketing a lot of Flyers sports memorabilia from the Stanley Cup years and working with various charitable organizations. We have our Fall Classic every September. I am also involved in two web sites, www.davethehammerschultz.com and www.simplyawesome.com.”

Q: How did you get involved in stand-up comedy?

Schultz:
“A couple of years ago, the Flyers Alumni had a roast in Atlantic City, New Jersey. There was a comedy writer who attended and after the show, I got his telephone number and gave him a call. I asked him to write me some skits and I liked them. Later I enrolled in the comedy course that I mentioned above. I did this to help with my public speaking. I think that it is always more entertaining if I can incorporate humor into my presentations.”

Q: How do you prepare for stand-up comedy?

Schultz:
“The first thing that I do is sit down and write. A lot of my material is from my past experiences playing in the NHL. Many people think that the more aggressive a hockey player is, the less intelligent he is, which is actually not true. However, I like to play on that misconception and I poke fun at myself a lot. I will also incorporate into my act some of the athletes who I played with and against. All just in fun!”

Q: Are you comfortable speaking in public?

Schultz:
“Yes. I enjoy it, but it is not easy. You just do not step on stage and start entertaining people. There is a lot of preparation and rehearsing that is involved. Your information and your delivery are key ingredients to being an effective public speaker, which I have been doing for 25 years.”

Q: What is more nerve-wracking, moments before you walk out on stage or moments before dropping the gloves in an NHL fight?

Schultz:
“I think the moment before a fight was more mentally draining. The toughest part about fighting, at least in my eyes, was that I was not allowed to lose. I had to be so prepared. I won a few and I lost a few. Once the fight was over, I was fine, unless I got hit!” (laughs)

Q: Did you look for a game on the Flyers schedule and think, ‘Oh, boy I have to fight him again?’

Schultz:
“Yes. If we were going to play Boston, I did not want to know. I would look at the schedule and say to myself, ‘Jeez, looks like I will be squaring off again with (Terry) O’Reilly.’ Some teams you just do not want to play against. O’Reilly and I fought at least 10 times. Whenever anyone asks me who my toughest opponent was I say it was O’Reilly. I actually have this game video of us playing the Bruins and I was squaring off with one of his teammates and you can see O’Reilly zigzagging in between Flyers and Bruins players on the ice just so he could get to me before I could fight his teammate.”

Q: Did you visualize a fight before it occurred?
Schultz: “I would visualize fighting a guy all the time. Sometime in the afternoon before a game I would lie down to take a nap. Before I would fall asleep, I would close my eyes and think about fighting. The odd time I would think about me being the one getting punched and I would open my eyes and think, ‘No, it is not supposed to happen that way!’ and start the whole process over again. I could not allow myself to think that I was going to lose.”

Q: Many times after a fight there is an unofficial winner and loser with really no damage to either player. Are hockey fights deceiving?
Schultz: “There were times when the public perception was that I lost even when I did not get hit and there were other times when the perception was that I won and I never even hit the guy. Hockey players are very well protected. There are very few serious injuries that occur during a hockey fight, but they belong in the game and serve a purpose. Sometimes the fans even enjoy them!” (laughs)

Q: What do you think about the instigator rule?
Schultz: “It hurts the game and should be taken out. This is not just me saying this. Franchise players have said this too. The instigator rule was implemented to prevent a guy like me going after a guy like Guy Lafleur. How am I going to fight a player like Guy if I cannot even catch him? First off, I would never do that. Today, a guy could give an opponent a cheap shot and nothing happens. Players shrug it off and skate to the bench. Too many players hide behind that rule. All I ever hear these days is that there is no respect on the ice. My philosophy is that if a player cheap shots another player and the other player or teammate wants revenge by dropping the gloves, it is the obligation of the cheap shot artist to fight. These days he will just get sent to the penalty box, get suspended and/or get fined. Do not give somebody a cheap shot and run. Have a little fistfight. What is the best way to settle a disagreement on the ice? Drop the gloves and get it over with. What are the injuries that occur in a hockey fight besides the loser having his feelings hurt. And I do apologize for all the feelings I have hurt!”

Q: Did you enjoy fighting?

Schultz:
“No. There was a lot of pressure and besides, who likes getting punched in the face? But I liked the rewards. I filled a role that was needed and my coach and teammates appreciated someone going after the guy who gave a cheap shot or was dirty or a player we just did not like. The fans loved it. Fighters are always among the more popular players on the team.”

Q: Can the fighters of your era compete with the fighters of today?

Schultz:
“The guys are bigger and stronger these days, so they would have the advantage. I was big when I played at 6’1”, 195 pounds. But if I was playing today, with all the off-ice training, weight lifting and the nutritionists that teams have, I would be playing at 220 pounds and have a lot more muscle. There are some huge guys in the NHL these days.”

Q: You were not always a fighter. Why did you become a fighter?

Schultz:
“I was a ‘chippy’ player, but never fought when I played junior hockey. I remember that there were all these brawls in juniors and I was thinking, ‘Get me out of this place.’ What aggravated me was when somebody would hold or hook me with their stick. That would (tee) me off. But I would not fight the guy. I would give the guy a shove and skate away, but I would never drop my gloves. I was 21 when I was drafted by the Flyers in 1969. I could actually play. They sent me to the EHL (Eastern Hockey League) and all hell broke loose. I got into a fight with a French-Canadian kid and beat him up pretty bad. I got in a fight the next game and the rest is history. I scored 32 goals that season and led the league with 356 penalty minutes when I played for the Salem Rebels in the EHL in 1969-70. Everybody loved the fights.”

Q: Was there ever an NHL official crazy enough to try and break up one of your fights?

Schultz:
“Whenever I would get into a fight, one of the strongest linesmen in the NHL, John D’Amico, would always grab me. His job was to tie me up every time. Once when I was fighting, he broke it up by elbowing me three times in the face. I was like, ‘John, cut it out, I’m done already!’ He was very strong.”

Q: Were you ever hurt in a fight?

Schultz:
“I can’t admit that.”

Q: Can we interpret that as a ‘maybe?’

Schultz:
“Nobody knows this, but once at the Spectrum I got into a fight with Pierre Bouchard of the Montreal Canadiens. He tied up my arms and was able to sneak in a punch right on my temple. At that point, I just grabbed on to him and held on for dear life. He got me good, but nobody in the building could tell that he walloped me. D’Amico came up to me afterward and said he could not believe I was still standing. One time when I was playing for the Los Angeles Kings, O’Reilly turned me sideways and flipped me to the ice. That took the wind out of me, not to mention a lot of torn cartilage to my rib cage, and I could hardly get up for a week.”

Q: Several years ago, ESPN voted you the toughest NHL fighter of all-time. You do consider that an honor, don’t you?

Schultz:
“Heck yes. The list was pretty impressive. There was (Bob) Probert, (Clark) Gillies, (Chris) Nilan, (Tiger) Williams, (Gordie) Howe, (Ted) Lindsay, to name a few.”

Q: Who were your toughest fights against?

Schultz:
“Number one would be O’Reilly because he was going to fight every single time. He was a lefty, which made it worse. Luckily, he did not have the best balance and would sometimes slip and fall. Clark Gillies (former New York Islander and Buffalo Sabre) would be number two. I only fought him twice, but he was big and strong.”

Q: How about Tiger Williams?

Schultz:
“I cannot include him. When Tiger Williams came into the league, he claimed that he never lost a fight. He and I fought only once in Toronto. Tiger was jostling with Clarkie (Bobby Clarke), so I stepped in. He ended up biting me on the cheek. Keith Allen called Clarence Campbell into our locker room to show him the teeth marks on my cheek. But I give Tiger a lot of credit. He is the most penalized player in the history of the game (3,966 penalty minutes) and he had a long career. But I only fought him that one time in Toronto and he bit me, so it would not be fair to put him on the list.”

Q: Have you ever been accidentally head-butted or accidentally given a head-butt?

Schultz:
“I head-butted O’Reilly, but it was not an accident. He was holding my arms down so neither one of us could throw any punches. I head-butted him and got a three-game suspension.”

Q: Should fighting always be part of hockey?

Schultz:
“Yes. It prevents a lot of unnecessary cheap shots. If you do not want to get fight, then do not give out cheap shots.”

Q: You coached in the minor leagues this season. How did it go?

Schultz:
“I coached the Elmira Jackals in the United Hockey League for six weeks. When I took over, the team had three ties in 20 games. I really turned that team around and they won five of the last 21 games!” (laughs)

Q: How are your two sons?

Schultz:
“My oldest son, Chad, just got married and moved to Madison, New Jersey, and is looking to get more involved in the film and advertising business. He was employed for the past five years with an advertising and production company in Philadelphia. He has written, directed and produced an independent movie that received national recognition at film festivals from Delaware to Utah. He is looking to work out of New York City. My youngest son, Brett, works for the vintage jersey company, Mitchell & Ness, in Philadelphia. He is also studying for his Masters Degree at Temple University.”

Q: Are you single, you never know who might read this?

Schultz:
“I have been single for a few years living in Macungie, Pennsylvania.”

Q: Is there anything that you would like to end this interview with?

Schultz:
“I want to thank the city of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley and all Flyers fans for always being so nice. A lot of the Flyers Stanley Cup members still live in the Delaware Valley and we have always been treated excellent.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

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Former Flyer talks about school, hockey and retirement

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com


Orest Kindrachuk played five seasons for the Flyers and was a member of both Stanley Cup Championship teams.

After playing four seasons for the Saskatoon Blades of the WCJHL, Orest Kindrachuk was signed as free agent by the Flyers in July of 1971. After a season in the American Hockey League, he joined the Flyers' lineup full time for 1973-74 season. In five seasons with the Flyers (1973-74 through 1977-78), Kindrachuk was a member of four division championship teams and three teams that advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, including two Stanley Cup Championship teams. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 1978 Amateur Draft in a deal that eventually brought Behn Wilson to Philadelphia.

Kindrachuk recently sat down with philadelphiaflyers.com to talk about his childhood, his selection of hockey over medicine, his NHL career and his love of the Delaware Valley.

Question: What have you been doing since retiring?

Kindrachuk:
“Since retiring in 1982, I took some time off and then I got involved in the insurance business and in the packaging industry.”

Question: How is your family?

Kindrachuk:
“My wife, Lynn, recently received her Master’s degree and is now the assistant athletic director at Gloucester County College and oversees the fitness center there. We have two great sons. Zak, 25, graduated from Monmouth University in 2004 and is now pursuing a career in radio. He lives in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Jake, 22, graduated from Wake Forest in this month and will be involved with investment banking in Chicago.”

Question: When did you start playing hockey?

Kindrachuk:
“I started skating when I was three years old. Skating and playing hockey is all a kid would do in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Ice rinks were everywhere. Families had them in their backyard. My parents’ rule was that I had to be home by 9 p.m. When I got to be seven and eight years old, I would deliver newspapers and then go straight to the ice rink. I would do this every day.”

Question: When did you think that you had the talent to make it to the NHL?

Kindrachuk:
“Saturday Night Hockey on television in Canada was like a religion. We planned everything around that event. I was probably eight or nine years old when I told my mother that she was going to be watching me play one day on Saturday Night Hockey. That was my goal. When did I really know? I took the year off the season I was drafted and decided to study pre-med at the University of Saskatchewan. I played in a commercial league that year. The next year I decided to come back as an overage player and had a really good year. After my draft year, Jerry Melnyk (former Flyers scout) had seen me play and put me on the Flyers’ draft list.”

Question: What is a commercial league?

Kindrachuk:
“It is a league that athletes go to after playing junior hockey who weren’t quite good enough for the National Hockey League. There I was, a 19 year old playing against guys 28 to 32 years old. The talent level was high and these guys were tough and mean.”

Question: What made you decide to put hockey on hold to study pre-med and then what made you change your mind and put studying on hold?

Kindrachuk:
“I felt at the time that I really wanted to be a doctor and the odds of making the NHL were slim because there were a lot less teams than there are today. I was playing in the commercial league when I started thinking that I could always go back to school. Chronologically, I would not always be young and in top shape to play hockey so I decided to give it a try. Eventually, the Flyers invited me to their training camp. What is crazy is that if I would have played my draft year I might have been selected fairly high then I may never had the opportunity to play for the Flyers and be on a Stanley Cup-winning team. Things really fell into place for me. Call it destiny.”

Question: You played against Bob Clarke in juniors. What was that like?

Kindrachuk:
“I played for the Saskatoon Blades and Clarkie played on a goon squad, the Flin Flon Bombers. The Bombers were tough, but they did have talent. Teams would go into Flin Flon for a two-game series and it would be intimidating as hell. I always maintained that if a player came out of the Western Hockey League as a pretty good player, he was also going to be a tough player.”

Question: Is it true that the first game you played in juniors was against Flin Flon?

Kindrachuk:
“Yes. I was 16 years old and weighed about 140 pounds and we were playing in Flin Flon. Exactly seven seconds into the game, there was a full-scale brawl. Everybody was on the ice fighting and I am sitting on the bench, thinking, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ But I went out and mixed it up.”

Question: Why did this start so early?

Kindrachuk:
“During warm-ups, there were some antics going on between the two teams. Flin Flon was notorious for coming almost to the opposing team’s blue line during warm-ups just to intimidate the other team. It was their building and their ice and they felt that they had the right. We had guys who didn’t like that.”

Question: When you played for the Flyers, your linemates were Dave Schultz and Don Saleski. Did having these two on your line give you more open ice to operate?

Kindrachuk:
“It was interesting. A lot of times when we would go on the road our line would have to play against our opponent’s top line. The three of us were plus players. We could keep up with anybody. We were actually a very good line.”

Question: What were some of your career highlights?

Kindrachuk:
“Career highlights come in the form of a ladder. Each rung in the ladder brought me a new highlight. The first rung would be the desire and ability to make the NHL. I had an opportunity to sign in the WHA in the early 1970s for a lot more money, but I grew up dreaming about playing in the NHL. The next rung on the ladder would be winning the Stanley Cup. To compete in the Stanley Cup Finals is fabulous, but to win two in a row and be in three Finals was awesome. The press was unbelievable. Heck, when we were competing in the Finals, reporters wanted to know what color socks we were wearing. They wanted to know everything about us. I remember one year we had a week off because we had a bye. I was quoted in the newspaper as saying, ‘In my week off I am going to tour Philadelphia.’ I remember my wife and I taking the subway down to Center City and fans would stop us and say, ‘Wow, you really are touring the city, aren’t you?’ We were being recognized everywhere. On the other end, our team would go to our opponent’s city where we were absolutely hated. That gave us just as much pleasure.”

Question: Do you regret not signing a contract in the WHA for a lot more money?

Kindrachuk:
“No. Your ultimate goal as a youngster is to play in the NHL.”

Question: The Flyers were not very well liked by other NHL teams, but when you played the Russians, did feelings change?

Kindrachuk:
“Yes. That was another rung in the ladder. All of a sudden the League is on our side when we played the Russians. They wanted us to do well. They came into our locker room to wish us luck. For years, the NHL could not wait to suspend or fine us. They really did not like us. But when we played the Russians, they were in our corner. Here is a quick story. We were about an hour late for a luncheon with the Russian Red Army Team on the Friday before the game. We did not care what they thought. Freddy (Shero) gets up and says he’d like to welcome the Russian Red Army to Philadelphia…‘the Cradle of Liberty,’ just to rub it in a bit. The following day on Saturday we had a morning practice at the Spectrum and the Russian team was watching us from the bleachers. After we were finished, they started to practice and we all left. We never even watched them. We did not care. The game was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. the next day, but we were all in the locker room at 9:00 a.m. We were chomping at the bit. We wanted a piece of them.”

Question: You were traded to Pittsburgh in 1978. Where you upset about this?

Kindrachuk:
“No. It was time in my career to move on. The last rung in the ladder was when I was traded to Pittsburgh. About two weeks into Pittsburgh’s training camp, the players elected me team captain. To be named team captain for an NHL team is something I feel really good about. That was quite an honor.”

Question: Even though you were traded to Pittsburgh you still kept your house in Philadelphia. Why?

Kindrachuk:
“Philadelphia has been great to all of us who played for the Flyers. We were the blue-collar team that Philadelphia fans could relate to. There are still folks in the area that think we won the Cup five years ago. If that is not flattering, I do not know what is. I cannot say enough about the Delaware Valley. We have lived in the same house since 1974.”

Question: Who would name their kid “Orest?”

Kindrachuk:
“I am 100 percent Ukrainian. My mom’s brother was named Orest and they named me after him. Remember the Johnny Cash song ‘A Boy Named Sue?’ Names like that do make you a little tougher (laughs)!”

Question: Did teammates call you Orest on the ice?

Kindrachuk:
“Not if they wanted me to pass the puck to them. I could tell who wanted the puck and who didn’t. A player that did not know me would call me Orest. Players that knew me would call me ‘O’ or ‘Oscar’ or ‘Ernie,’ from Sesame Street. Don Saleski was known as ‘Big Bird,’ Dave Schultz was the ‘Grouch’ and I was called either ‘Oscar’ or ‘Ernie.’ Nicknames were, and still are, big on the ice.”

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Default On the NHL | Arrival of Carter brings Sharp's versatility to light

Posted on Sun, Jun. 12,
On the NHL | Arrival of Carter brings Sharp's versatility to light

By Tim Panaccio

Inquirer Columnist

Aside from the obvious - the Phantoms' dominant surge to win the Calder Cup in a sweep - amazing things seem to happen when a hockey team gets an infusion of talent late in a season.

Sometimes, teams pick up a valuable piece of information they had been lacking. Or they discover something they weren't looking for.

Take the case of Patrick Sharp.

Until the arrival of Jeff Carter, Sharp, 23, was the Phantoms No. 1 center; he averaged 0.693 points per game (52 points in 75 games). Sharp centered Ryan Ready on left wing the entire way, with Mark Murphy and a cast of thousands on right wing.

Carter arrived with a couple of regular-season games left. Sharp moved to right wing while Ready stayed on the left side.

A quiet, unassuming player who prefers the shadows to the limelight, Sharp finished with 21 points in as many games, averaging a point per game. He scored twice in the Game 4 finale over the Chicago Wolves.

"I really liked him at right wing," Flyers coach Ken Hitch**** said. "I like the way he has played with Carter. They seem to have some chemistry at the American League level. Hopefully, he can carry that to the NHL level."

Sharp carried the Phantoms' offensive load through the regular season. Then he became the setup guy for Carter, who finished as the AHL's leading playoff scorer with 23 points.

"Clearly, no one has benefited more from having Jeff Carter here than Sharpie," Phantoms coach John Stevenssaid. "He moved to right wing, which was almost an effortless transition. Sharpie gets to the holes. He gets open. He and Jeff seem to have a nice chemistry there. Sharpie just has an ability to work with people."

Sharp's versatility was a valuable piece of information the Flyers learned - because of Carter's presence.

"I knew Jeff was coming here as soon as he finished juniors, and being a centerman, I knew there was a good chance I'd slide over to right wing," Sharp said. "I was just excited to have the opportunity to play with a great player like Jeff."

When the Flyers get back on the ice in training camp, there will be a logjam at center: NHL veterans Keith Primeau, Jeremy Roenick and Michal Handzus. Roenick will move to right wing, just as he did in the playoffs last year. Add Carter and fellow rookie Mike Richards, and there are your four centers.

At this point, Sharp moves to right wing. And what about R.J. Umberger of the Phantoms? He's a center, too. Umberger's bigger task figures to be making the final cut on the Flyers' roster.

The discovery the Flyers made during the Phantoms' Calder Cup championship run was that Sharp had obvious chemistry with Carter. No one knew that two months ago. You can go an entire season and not find the right chemistry among players.

Hitch****'s challenge in September will be deciding which NHL veteran forwards play with Carter and Richards. And whether Sharp plays right wing on a line with Carter and perhaps Simon Gagne, who was outstanding during the World Championships.

"I'm not too worried about training camp with the Flyers," Sharp said. "My focus will be to make the lineup, not whether I remain at center. It doesn't matter to me because I'm comfortable at either position. I played a lot of wing during my career."

There's a good chance Sharp is going to be playing a lot more of it in the future, too.

The Great Experiment

The NHL held a "research and development" camp this past week in Toronto, experimenting with all those proposed rules changes, including changes in goalies' equipment. All of which is intended to add offense (read: goals) to the game. A number of general managers predicted that if goalie equipment were made smaller, scoring would increase. The larger nets (80 inches wide by 52 inches high) vs. the old nets (72 x 48) did not significantly add to the scoring during the three-day testing period.

"In the warm-up, there was a lot of room for shooters," Eric Tobia, an Ontario Hockey League goalie who participated, told the Canadian Press. "When they had time to look, they were picking a lot of corners. But in the game, we didn't find it too much of a setback. We adjusted by stepping out an extra foot to take away the extra inches on both sides of the net.

"Movement-wise, I had to work a little harder to push from side to side, but, overall, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The majority of the goals went in more because of the smaller equipment."

There were eight goals scored during that phase of the experiment.

Great Experiment II

Another idea tested was eliminating the red line and the blue lines and adding thin lines a few feet above the face-off circles at each end of the ice. That concept was Scotty Bowman's idea. Players were permitted to pass the puck anywhere on the ice, without offside or icing, once the player with the puck reached the "pass line" in his zone. Most of the 15 GMs on hand thought the results produced "pond hockey" and its freewheeling style. They didn't like it.

Islanders GMMike Milbury, who is more liberal than most, wants to see definitive change. "We've been categorized publicly as being nothing short of being Neanderthals over the years when it comes to change," he said. "Hockey is revered in Canada, but we're in trouble south of the border."

He says hockey needs a committee of people "with teeth" who will make a decision and implement it without reservation. "Not one that comes back and says, 'Gee, we want you to consider this,' " Milbury said. "I want it to come back and say, 'Here it is. We're going with bigger nets; we're going without red lines.' Whatever."

Loose pucks

Kristian Huselius, Andreas Lilja and Henrik Tallinder will not be permitted to participate at the Turin Olympics in February - if there's NHL participation. The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation extended the suspensions of the players, who were accused of rape last February, through the Olympics. The players claimed consensual sex. A special prosecutor reopened the case, then closed it Friday, clearing all three players of wrongdoing. However, that may not have any bearing on their Olympic eligibility... . After filling a hockey void in Edmonton during the lockout, the Oilers are shutting down their AHL affiliate, the Edmonton Road Runners. They moved them from Toronto during the lockout to provide their employees jobs and keep hockey alive in the city. The Road Runners netted more than a $1 million profit, according to the Edmonton Journal. Once the NHL gets going again, having two clubs in the same building isn't going to work. Look for this team to resurface as a Western Hockey League club... . A group of West Coast investors led by William "Boots" Del Biaggio, a San Jose, Calif., businessman and friend of Mario Lemieux's, have negotiated a letter of intent to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They intend to keep the team in Pittsburgh. The investors would own the majority of the team with Lemieux retaining a small share.

Finally, whatever became of Ricky Smith's World Hockey Association revival, which was supposed to get off the ground on May 20 with the Bobby Hull Invitational? Seems a few more sponsors pulled out, that's what. Meanwhile, Smith, the WHA president, had to cut Phil Esposito and Henry Paul from the payroll. The WHA still has no partners or franchises listed on its Web site. Hey, Ricky. It'd be easier - and more profitable - to resurrect the WHA as a video game.

Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.



All of these guys will definitely make for interesting line combinations.

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/spo...y/11872774.htm
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Default

Former Flyer talks about life before and after Big Bird

By Zack Hill, philadelphiaflyers.com


In addition to Don Saleski, the Flyers drafted Bobby Clarke and Dave Schultz in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft.


Don Saleski was the Flyers' sixth round choice (64th overall) in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft. He joined the Flyers organization for the 1970-71 season and played for the Quebec Aces and Richmond Robins before joining the Flyers full time for the 1972-73 season.

He played eight seasons for the Flyers (1971-72 to 1978-79) before being traded to the Colorado Rockies during the 1978-79 season. Saleski was a member of both of the Flyers' Stanley Cup Championship teams (1974-75 and 1975-76).

Saleski recently sat down with philadelphiaflyers.com to discuss his life before and after the Flyers, his "prediction" and the nickname "Big Bird."

Question: What have you been doing since retiring from hockey in 1980?

Saleski:
“After retiring from hockey, I worked for Aramark for 18 years. I began my career at Aramark as the sales director in the company’s business services group. After a series of promotions, I became the area president of Aramark’s sports and entertainment group. After leaving that company, I worked for SMG (Spectacor Management Group) and later worked for Club Systems Group where I was the president and COO. I recently decided to start my own business, Business Edge Development. My company helps other organizations achieve, accelerate and sustain profitable growth by improving performance among front-line staff and managers. If anyone is interested or would like more information, they can contact me at dsaleski@comcast.net or call me at 484-433-1422.”

Question: You are also getting involved in speaking at leadership seminars, correct?

Saleski:
“Yes. I talk about the characteristics of an effective leader and what one needs to do to be a good leader. The principles that I discuss include - discipline, direction, organization, responsibility and courage.”

Question: Can you tell us how you met your wife, Mary Ann?

Saleski:
“She was Ed Snider’s administrative assistant. I was new in town and I met her around Christmas time. There were not a lot of malls back then and I had to do some holiday shopping and I asked if she wanted to go along. We were dating and a couple of months later she told Ed that she was getting married to some hockey player. He had no idea that we were dating. She actually told him at a Flyers game. She tried to point me out to him, but he thought she was pointing to someone in the stands. She told him, ‘No, he is wearing number 11 on the ice.’ We were married in six months time. Everybody told us that it would not work because we hardly knew each other. Thirty-two years later we are still happily married.”

Question: How is your family?

Saleski:
“We have two children, Erika (28) and Adam (27), living in Washington D.C. Erika is a graduate of American University and received her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and just accepted a job in Washington D.C. Adam has an undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and received his law degree from Widener and is involved in contract work.”

Question: After the Flyers lost to Montreal in the 1973 playoffs you were quoted in the book Full Spectrum as saying, “I went to Canada that summer and told everybody we were going to win the Stanley Cup next year.” Why were you so confident?

Saleski:
“I remember Mary Ann and I got married that summer and I took her back to Canada to introduce her to everybody. When I was up there, I was telling everyone that we were going to win it because the entire team had this feeling of confidence. We had a good run in the playoffs and we had great leadership with our Head Coach Fred Shero and our captain Bob Clarke. It was a matter of all of us coming together for the common goal of bringing the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia. I was convinced that we were going to win. There was no team in the NHL that was going to beat us. When I was telling everybody back home, they had a hard time believing me. The night we won the Stanley Cup I called everybody back home from a telephone in the locker room and let them know we won. People remember us as a team who liked to play rough, hence the nickname Broad Street Bullies, but we were loaded with talent, too.”

Question: You were traded to Colorado near the end of your career. Did that surprise you or did you want it to happen?

Saleski:
“ I asked (General Manager) Keith Allen to trade me. The Flyers were going in a different direction by playing a lot of the younger right wingers. I was not playing a lot. When I did play, I wasn’t getting a regular shift and there were other games when I did not play at all. I was near the end of my career so I asked Keith to trade me to a team where I would be able to make a contribution.”

Question: What was it like playing for Colorado and its head coach, Don Cherry?

Saleski:
“Don Cherry was in a tough circumstance. Don went from coaching a strong, talented Boston Bruins team to a very young team with little talent in Colorado. He had a hard time dealing with that.”

Question: How was that for you?

Saleski:
“It was difficult. I went from winning close to 50 games (a season) with the Flyers to winning 15 with Colorado. When you are competing every night just trying to keep the score close, it’s a whole different mentality then when you are competing to win. It was tough on me, but I also felt bad for the young guys on the team because they would really get down and demoralized. We had a real poor hockey team.”

Question: Besides winning the Stanley Cup with the Flyers, what are your favorite memories about your playing days?

Saleski:
“Beating the Russians was special. But when I think of memories I think of the team and how we had a common vision. We supported each other and we really had this bond. We still do. I don’t see the guys that often, but when we do see each other there is the feeling of excitement. It is almost like a brotherhood.”

Question: How did you get started in hockey?

Saleski:
“We lived on an Indian reservation in Saskatchewan and my dad made this rink in our backyard. I skated on it a lot of times by myself. I didn’t start organized hockey until I was 11. My first year of playing organized hockey was interesting because I never played with other kids before so I was pretty much a puck-hog. I would get the puck and try to score goals and not pass it to anybody. I was not used to having teammates.”

Question: Did you consider yourself a tough, enforcer type of player?

Saleski:
“I never considered myself a tough guy. I was more of an instigator. I caused a lot of problems and Dave Schultz would finish them off. I was competitive and wanted to win, so I did whatever I could to help the team.”

Question: You played on the Sesame Street line with Dave Schultz (Grouch) and Orest Kindrachuk (Oscar). How did you get the nickname “Big Bird?”

Saleski:
“Orest gave it to me. If my memory is correct, during a pre-game warm-up at the Spectrum some kid with his mother was watching us skate and the kid says ‘that guy (me) looks like Big Bird.’ Orest heard the kid and he was all over me and it stuck from there.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

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