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Username Post: The Prodigal Son, Derek Sanderson        (Topic#513365)
Tuffguy
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10-12-08 11:52 AM - Post#960106    



One afternoon in March 1970 WCBS-TV sportscaster Bill Mazer asked Derek Sanderson of the Boston Bruins whether he preferred to be known as a tough guy or a lover.

The Bruins long-haired center mulled over the question for about a half-second and replied "I'd rather be known as a hockey player!"

Mazer wasn't exactly surprised at the response because Sanderson has become renowned as the most glib young man in the National Hockey League, as well as its most colorful dresser and, cetainly, most of its most accomplished centers.

As hockey players go, Sanderson is a revolutionary in the best traditions of Thomas Paine and George Washinton, with a touch of Nathan Hale thrown in for good measure. Derek might easily has paraphrased Hale when he said he had but one life to give for his Bruins, and he is in the process of giving them everything he has.

Bruins board chairman Weston Adams, Sr., discovered Sanderson when Derek was a 15-year-old playing junior B hockey in Stamford, Ontario. "Right away I knew this was a player we'd want on our side someday," said Adams recently. "Sanderson is a great competitor. There are players in this league who can do this thing a nd that thing better then he does. But nobody, basically, is the competitor he is. Derek looks at hockey the same way I do. Once they drop the puck on the ice, he hates the hell out of the opposition."

He may hate the opposition but he certainly loves girls.

Girls come easy to Sanderson; as esy as they come to his buddy Joe Namath. He's six-feet tall and 176 pounds and damn good looking. After his appearance on Namath's televeiosn show the women temporarily forgot about Joe Willy and swarmed around Derek. He looked like a hip Clint Eastwood.

Girls come so easy to Derek he doesn't flip when they surround him. You might say he's a connoisseur of the species. "There are no better women in North America than in Montreal," he explains. "Pittsburgh is terrible. The good cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Montreal and Toronto."

Up until last summer Sanderson admired Namath from afar. Then Derek's attorney, Bob Woolf, arranged a partnership in Namath's Boston edition of Bachelor's III and the pair have been swinging from bird to bird ever since.

"Joe Willy" lined me up some dates in New York," Sanderson recentley recalled. "They were great man. He's good people, that Joe Willy. He's on to Playmate-of-the-Year stuff now."

Another of Sanderson's playmates is Ken Harrelson of the Cleveland Indians whom he also met through Woolf. Harrelson's influence can be reflected through Derek's main-floor bachelor apartment in suburban Brookline, Mass. The living room is a meadow of thick blue broadloom while the bedroom is carpeted in wall-to-wall white fur. At any given time there is a minimum of 45 suits in the pad. Needless to say, Derek does not lead a hermit's life at home.

"My kind of girl", he explains, "has to be feminine, but she has to have a head on her shoulders and know what she's doing. My whole theory is that a woman can interest you with her body but can she hold you with her mind. I like a girl who is really good looking, frminine, sensitive and soft. The type of girl who can fit into a dinner at the Waldorf or a draft beer down at the beach. Very few girls can do that. And she has to be a girl who can make a man feel like a man."

Some Sanderson watvhers are more awed by his appearance than his women. His long hair is so well trimmed that Toronto columnist Dick Beddoes remarked, :You get the impression that if he combed it Namath would fall out."

Baltimore Clipper coach Rudy Migay added, "Is that Derek Sanderson or a Buffalo."

Last season the Bruins had a defenseman named Bill Speer, who was a barber by trade. Sanderson regarded Speer with mock fear. "I fended him off," said Sanderson. "I saved it for a hair-stylist in Boston. Margo, a good looking broad. Nothing serious. A sawbuck for a trim."

Sanderson remains candid about his looks. "If I were laying a price," Derek asserted, "I'd give odds that Rod Gilbert has the nicest hair in the league."

The Bruins squarish general manager Milt Schmidt attempted to put the brakes on Sandersons's long hair and mod clothes but he might have a built a bridge across the Atlantic for all the good it did. Soon teamates Gerry Cheevers, Phil Esposito, John McKenzie and Bobby Orr followed suit.

"Orr used to have a brushcut," Derek recalls. "I told him 'Bobby, the brushcut, forget it'."

Nowadays, Orr's hair is worn neatly long. "I used to be pretty square," Orr admits, "and the worst thing I ever did to myself is wear a wiffle."

Derek is not unaware of his influence on NHL styles. "There are still a few bad dressers around," says Sanderson. "A few slow picker-uppers. But we're opening up the NHL's stuffed shirts."

One are in which Sanderson failed is in skates. He figured if Namath could wear white football shoes, he could wear white ice skates and he went about having a manufacturer design a pair for him.

"Sure he can wear white ice skates," said ex-Bruin coach Harry Sinden when he heard the news, "on the condition that he wears a pink helmet to go with it."

"The Bruins didn't see eye-to-eye with me on the white skates," Sanderson allows. "They're a little stuffy; they figure it's 'Americanizing' the game, and that the players who are nearly all Canadians might take offense. Milty (Schmidt) asked me not to wera them and I figure you can't change the system overnight."

That doesn't mean the white skates issue is a dead one. Far from it; but with Woolf's counseling Sanderson is learning to cut his revelutionizing speed a few knots.

"I'd like Derek to change the NHL in as graceful a way as possible," says Woolf, one of the country's foremost attorneys. "But I also want him to maintain a good relationship with management."

Actually, Sanderson's rapport with Schmidt is considerably better then it was with Milt's predecessor, Leighton "Hap" Emms. Not that that's very difficult. An old-line conservative, Emms was bounced from the Bruins when he antagonized Ted Green and Bobby Orr.

Sanderson's beef is legitamite. Emms signed him for coolie wages, and Derek won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the tear in 1967-68. "The Bruins got me lousy cheap," he admits. "Ten grand for the first year, twelve grand the second year and a stinking thirteen grand last season."

Seasoned hockey men claim that in many ways Sanderson is the superior of high-scoring teamamte Phil Esposito. He's genuinely tougher. He's better at face-offs-in fact, if Sinden had used Sanderson instead of Esposito on some key face-offs in the Montreal-Boston playoff series in the spring of 1969, the Bruins might have won the Stanley Cup. Derek is also rated a better two-way player.


To be continued.....









"What the hell! ... all right, who's the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker!" - Boston Bruins President


 
Wolf3328
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10-12-08 12:07 PM - Post#960120    


    In response to Tuffguy

Sanderson came to my middle school when I was in 7th grade. Never heard of him and when I told my Pop this former Bruin came in to talk about his trials and tribulations he almost fell out of his chair. He wasn't a B's fan or anything but admired his career.

I think Sanderson was the first million dollar hockey player.
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cashman rulz
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10-12-08 01:09 PM - Post#960145    


    In response to Wolf3328

  • Wolf3328 Said:
Sanderson came to my middle school when I was in 7th grade. Never heard of him and when I told my Pop this former Bruin came in to talk about his trials and tribulations he almost fell out of his chair. He wasn't a B's fan or anything but admired his career.

I think Sanderson was the first million dollar hockey player.

He was the first player in professional sports to sign a million dollar contract.


 
Wolf3328
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10-12-08 01:52 PM - Post#960149    


    In response to cashman rulz

Cash....that was the only thing I remember from that speech.
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Tuffguy
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10-12-08 02:39 PM - Post#960157    


    In response to Wolf3328

Continued.....

Before the 1969 East Division Cup final the Toronto Daily Star put two centers in perspective with a headline:
"HABS FEAR SANDERSON MORE THAN ESPO."

The Candiens recalled that Derek was the star in Boston's four-game sweep over Toronto. The Montreal forecast proved correct; Sanderson helped Boston to a 2-2 tie in games until a devastating check by John Ferguson disabled Derek for the remainder of the series.

It was no coincidence that the Bruins folded in six games. Sanderson condones Ferguson's check but frankly admits he's going to get even sooner or later. And when he says it, you better believe it!

"Sure I'm a dirty player," he admits. "I like playing dirty. Anyway, that's the way the game should be played. I like fighting. Maybe I'll get beat up alot, but I'll get the guy eventually."

And he's gotten some good ones: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Dick Duff and Orland Kurtenbach for starters. He rates Kurtenbach of Vancouver the best fighter in the league, and considers Gordie Howe one of the meanest players. He was warned to stay away from Howe but scoffs at the suggestion.

"One theory I go on," he says. "I don't care who he is, his face will bleed just like mine, right? That stick is a great equalizer. I've cut prople so often I can't remember who or when. So has Howe."

Such irreverent pop-offs cause the Bruin's brass to shudder. Once when Derek delivered some choice remarks to Paul Rimstead, the former sports editor of The Canadian Magazine, coach Sinden snapped, "Is he shooting off his mouth again!"

Sinden can say what he pleases but Sanderson knows what he's after and he's getting the ink. During the non-hockey months he was a continual item in the Boston papers, sometimes on the fashion page, sometimes on the society page and sometimes on the sports page. But always it was Sanderson.

"There are three things you need to make money in professional sports," he maintains, offering a superb clue to his philosophy. "One is talent. The second is points. The third is color. Orr has the talent. Esposito has the points. The only thing left for me is the color."

As a result you either dig Derek Sanderson a whole lot or you really put him down. And he HAS been put down.

Last season Maclean's Magazine, the national magazine of Canada, ran a profile on Sanderson. The mail response was one of the most emphatic the publication has received and many of the letters were classics of outrage.

"It's too bad you make a hero of a man because of his prowess as a hockey player but because of his prowess with women, of his disregard for the rules of his profession and of his foppery in dress," wrote Douglas Brown of St. Martins, New Brunswick.

"Any professional hockey player who brags about his fights and his sex fun the night before a game is not much of an idol for young Canadians to worship," wrote V. Wrightman of Bengough, Saskatchewan.

And so they raged into the night.

Derek isn't surprised. What revolutionary would be? But he won't stop there. Not on your life.

"I believe strongly in the hippie movement today," he says. Everbody's groovin' and turning on. I know alot of peoplewho smoke pot (marijuana). Naturally in my position I can't stand that. Get caught once and that would be it. I don't approve of young kids smoking the stuff, but I don't condemn people for using it. It's not for me, though. But everywhere I go today, kids are givin' me the peace sign. It's groovy. There's nothing wrong with that- to turn on and stay on. That's exactly where it's at today."

Curiously enough, the Bruins management has been urging him to cut down on his chain-smoking of regular cigarettes. He agrees he should eliminate the habit, if possible.

"My theory is 'everything in moderation'," says Derek.

That's what the man said.


(Taken from Hockey stars of 1971 by Stan Fischler)

"What the hell! ... all right, who's the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker!" - Boston Bruins President




Edited by Tuffguy on 10-12-08 02:40 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
 
oldtimebruin
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10-12-08 03:30 PM - Post#960174    


    In response to Tuffguy

A few weeks back espn classic showed a 60 minutes
show from way back. Turk was in his late 30's or so and he talks about how the money changed him,
the drinking and drug abuse. In the show he was
walking with a cane and living with friends because he had nothing.It was sad to see at the
time because he was the man when I was young,cool
tough,everything you wanted to be. He tells some
good stories.Glad that he turned it around because
he was one of my favorites.It sucked that the last
straw in boston was when he fought another of my
favorites Taz in the locker room in california.
Would have liked to see the 74 bruins play the
flyers in the finals with a vintage Turk.
 
NYRfan
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10-12-08 03:58 PM - Post#960179    


    In response to oldtimebruin

If I had a chance to meet one of these guys down on their luck, I'd say "damn, you were a big leaguer, a god in my book". Especially a very good one like Sanderson. The top .0001% who've ever played their game, in history.

I've got a buddy who got up and travelled with the Astros for about two weeks, never got in a game to pitch, but I'm always saying to him "damn, a big leaguer, an Astro".

And he doesn't want to hear it, doesn't even like baseball, lol. He says "I loved to play and pitch, but I've never liked to watch it, don't care who's in the majors or on any team or what they do".

I guess some guys only play some, as far as they can, and that's it.

I met Joe Gilliam once, and he only wanted to talk about some other obscure QB who could "really chunk it", but never made the NFL. Pretty interesting.


 
dagoon44
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10-12-08 04:03 PM - Post#960180    


    In response to NYRfan

I met Derick when he was announcing for Boston at a Devils game and we talked a lot about fighting. He gave me his card and number and we spoke on the phone tons of times and i gave him tons of tapes.he was a great guy
Check out the power play break every week on YouTube,


 
Wolf3328
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10-12-08 07:24 PM - Post#960239    


    In response to dagoon44

(Last season the Bruins had a defenseman named Bill Speer, who was a barber by trade. Sanderson regarded Speer with mock fear. "I fended him off," said Sanderson. "I saved it for a hair-stylist in Boston. Margo, a good looking broad. Nothing serious. A sawbuck for a trim.")

Sanderson for President!
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Irons
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10-13-08 12:41 PM - Post#960552    


    In response to dagoon44

  • dagoon44 Said:
I met Derick when he was announcing for Boston at a Devils game and we talked a lot about fighting. He gave me his card and number and we spoke on the phone tons of times and i gave him tons of tapes.he was a great guy




Ask any former teammate of his during his stint with the Philadelphia Blazers if he was a "great guy." I'm sure he was good to you, but the way he acted and treated his teammates in the WHA is far different.


 
dagoon44
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10-13-08 12:44 PM - Post#960553    


    In response to Irons

please expand on this. stories?
Check out the power play break every week on YouTube,


 
Irons
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10-13-08 12:57 PM - Post#960563    


    In response to dagoon44

The fact that he signed a million dollar contract and would run out on the bar tab at the end of the night sticking the players making $20,000 a year with the bill? This while leaving the bar in his Rolls Royce. The amount of times he showed up to training camp drunk/high while telling the minor leauge players they weren't good enough to play along side him. He was supposed to be an ambassador of the upstart WHA and a team leader. He was neither. How do you think his own teammates felt when he would tell them before a game in the locker room that none of them should be there?


 
cashman rulz
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10-13-08 04:15 PM - Post#960663    


    In response to Irons

I used to live in london ontario and had a chance to go to the queens hotel.That bar has been there for like 80 years so one night i got all fucked up and went in there for a pint and got talking to a few of the older folks about hockey and the bruins in general.One guy i would say he was 70-75 and he told me turk would show up at the queens after a training camp game with a fox coat on with 2 ladies on his arms,shoot he shit for a bit and by midnight he was off to montreal to enjoy the nightlife.I was told that derek shot a few stag movies while he was there but i have never seen anything or heard that these movies were available.The gut must be ranked top 5 alltime with the ladies in the quantity department.


 
Tuffguy
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10-13-08 08:16 PM - Post#960793    


    In response to cashman rulz

The most flamboyant, bizarre and unpredictable character in contemporary hockey is Derek Sanderson-and few will argue the point.

He was the first modern stickhandler to defy tradition by wearing a mustache; by openly criticizing Clarence Campbell, the president of the National Hockey League; and by dissecting a majority of his opponents in his own autobiography, "I've got to be me."

In 1969 he startled the conservative hockey world by sporting a wardrobe of high-fashion mod clothes; by making it obvious that he likes the company of attractive women; and by telling the Boston Bruins management that he would wear his hair as long as he pleased.

As the Bruins' center, Derek was relegated to the role of third line defensive center yet he scored 29 goals and 34 assists for 63 points last season and got more publicity than teammate Phil Esposito who scored 76 goals and 76 assists.

Sanderson was featured in such magazines as Life, Esquire, Time and Sport. He was the star of a recently completed full length film, "Face-Off," and the subject of a major CBS television profile. He also appeared on TV as a guest with Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin, plus his own TV gab show on a Boston station.

Much has been written about Derek, yet few people-particularly his teammates-really know him. In an effort to gain a new insight into the Sanderson personality, this author taped an interview with Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the colorful ex-baseball player-golfer, who was one of Derek's few close friends, the first season Sanderson came to play with the Bruins. The following is the first published transcription of "Harrelson-on-Sanderson."

I heard about Derek long before I met him. Having played for the Boston Red Sox, it was only natural for me to read about the Bruins. I noticed stories about the kid called "Turk."

My attorney, Bob Woolf, told me that Sanderson came up to his office. He said Turk was really something; that he told Woolf he was going to be a big star and that he (Woolf) should handle him. I wasn't a hockey fan at that time, but I couldn't help being fascinated by Bob's description of him.

Then I met him. I couldn't get over how small he was. His language was unbelievably profane, loaded with four letter words. He doesn't care who was there or what he said. He's just plain crude, like a raw piece of ore you might find in the earth. But you could always sense a precious stone. It was just a question of getting underneath the surface.

I found out he was just a kid who had come up the hard way; also that everythingwas going his way, he wasn't going to let anything change his mind or his habits. My impression was that Derek wasn't going to let anybody take it away from him.

More important, as far as I was concerned, was that I liked the guy and we quickly became good friends. When that happened, I decided that I wanted to help him in areas where I though he could use it.

A friend of mine and I tried to persuade Derek to cut down his vulgar language. We'd sit down and discuss ways for talking with people and proper methods of social behavior. This was strictly against his will and he rejected it. I've said this to his face and I'll say it here: I think Derek still has a lot of growing up to do. Occassionally, he had listened to me.


To be continued......
"What the hell! ... all right, who's the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker!" - Boston Bruins President


 
the hammer
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10-13-08 09:46 PM - Post#960834    


    In response to Tuffguy

Great stories Tuffguy, thanks!
 
Hike
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10-14-08 07:23 AM - Post#960928    


    In response to the hammer

As far as Sanderson's fighting prowess, IMO, he was adequate, but nothing out of the ordinary. Big wins for Sanderson that I can recall were against Ray McKay and also beating Vic Hadfield twice. He also fought Brad Park, but I thought Park got the better of him. There were also two fights with Kurtenbach. In their first fight, Kurtenbach bloodied him up and then they fought again a couple of years later that amounted to a lackluster draw.

Also, a bit of a spotpicker. Although that was the Bruins game back in those days - intimidation, and Sanderson was good at it. In the 72 playoffs against the Rangers, Sanderson bragged to the NY press how he was going to run Giacomin at every opportunity. And he proceeded to do just that. He beat up Bobby Rousseau, and Rod Gilbert (hense my spot-picker comment). The Rangers had no answer for Sanderson and his constant running of Giacomin. Ace Bailey and Derek Sanderson beat the hell out of the Rangers and the Rangers had no response. Gilbert and Ratelle couldn't fight and they were completely intimidated by the Bruins. Only Brad Park showed any heart in the series. But he alone was not enough and the Rangers went meekly to defeat.

Tell you though, as a hockey player, Sanderson had all the tools. He was the master of the sweep check and he was also one of the greatest penalty killers to ever play the game. The Bruins needed it in those days because taking on those Bruins of the late 60's/early 70’s was like attending a mugger’s convention in Central Park. They were like a wolf-pack with their all for one and one for all attitude. They were a precursor to what the Broad Street Bullies would become.

Sanderson's popularity in Boston was unparelled there for a while. Hell, he was probably more popular than Bobby Orr in Boston at one time. His partying was legendary and Look magazine ran a great story on him. Had he taken care of himself, he might have had a Hall of Fame career, he had all the tools. Drugs and alchohol really destroyed a very promising career.
When you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, the chicken makes a contribution, but the pig makes a committment


 
Tuffguy
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10-14-08 03:46 PM - Post#961125    


    In response to Tuffguy

continued.....

Once, we were out on a date and I could tell he was working hard not to use any vulgarity. He was trying all night not to be profane but, finally a word slipped out and at a very bad time and it made me mad. I jumped all over him about it and I knew he was sorry. It was the one time I've (Harrelson) ever been mad with him.

But this very brashness of his also is a strong quality. He's all male; and men like his frankness. I knew that all the guys on the Cleveland Indians were fascinated with Derek. When I went to spring training they all asked me about him. Every time he played, they'd find a clipping about him and bring it to me. They appreciate his honesty. He tells it like it is. If he doesn't like somebody, he says so. As a result, sometimes his honesty casts him in a bad light; people often don't want to hear the truth.

More important than that is his behavior in the rink. As far as I'm concerned he is among the top two or three colorful athletes in all professional sports today. He has a special charisma about him that makes him something like a demi-god.

I've had people say to me that when I went out to right field in Fenway Park there was a magnet toward right field and the rest of the park seemed to be shut off from the spectators. This is the kind of feeling I get in a hockey rink when Derek is on the ice. People's attention is drawn toward him; that long hair, that look of ferocity, that number 16.

His expression fascinates people because he never seems to change it. It's positively fierce, something like a gargoyle. Once you look at it, you can't take your eyes away from it. I've never seen an athlete in any sport command so much attention as Derek does when he hits the ice. He automatically becomes the focal point.

One reason for this is that the fans sense the animal in him. When he gets angry it bursts forth. He's got a great capacity for rationalization, but he doesn't use it. He doesn't rationalize, he reacts. This is what makes him so exciting.

Our personalities are alike in many ways; the difference is that I'm a little more flexible in my behavior than he is. I think it'll take Derek a few more years before he acquires this flexibility. And by that, I don't mean he'll change as a person so much as I think he'll refine the rough edges.

It didn't take me very long to discover that Derek is either loved or hated, depending on whom you're rooting for or which team you're playing with. One night I was sitting with Gordie Howe, talking hockey. All of a sudden Gordie said, "Sanderson's a good friend of your's, isn't he?" I said, "Yeah, he's a good friend. He's a helluva good kid."

Howe looked at me for a second, then sneered, "Yeah, that little-----." That bothered me. I said, Gordie, do me a favor, take it easy." He said, yeah, I'll take it easy. I'll put about 20 stitches in his face." But, if you ask Gordie whether he'd like to have Derek playing for the Red Wings, he'd jump up and down trying to get him.

Needless to say, the more I got to know Derek, the more I became dyed-in-the-wool hockey fan. Every time I'd see Derek play I'd say to myself, "If there's another life here on earth, I'd love to come back as a hockey player. If I had to do it all over again I'd love to be born American, go to Canada, learn to play hockey and then come back here just like Derek; not like Bobby Orr."

That might sound a little strange, considering Bobby Orr is the greatest player in the world. He's fantastic, exciting and all that but Derek is the most exciting player in the game. To understand the difference, put it in baseball terms.

It's like the contrast between Mickey Mantle and Joe Pepitone. In this case, Orr would be Mantle and Sanderson would be Pepitone. If you wanted to enjoy the game, you watched Mantle. He was beautiful to watch. But if you wanted to enjoy the game and have some fun, you watched Pepitone. Like Mantle, Orr is a great machine. But Derek has both ability and the flamboyancy.


To be continued......

"What the hell! ... all right, who's the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker!" - Boston Bruins President


 
Randy Holt
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10-14-08 04:33 PM - Post#961158    


    In response to Tuffguy

Good hockey player who threw it away with drugs and booze. He was pretty much washed up by his mid 20s. And he was overrated as a fighter. Great with the Bruins in a gang but on his own he had a draw with Bobby Clarke of all people. That should tell you something that he fought Clarke and the Flyers didn't even feel the need to jump in. When did that ever happen? He had a decent season as a Ranger one year but they traded him because he was a bad influence on their younger players.
 
FitzG
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10-14-08 04:44 PM - Post#961166    


    In response to Randy Holt

I used to hang out at his bar in Boston Daisy Buchanan's back in the 70's and remember him walking in one night with is arms around two blonde's like he owned them. For my money behind Orr he was the most exciting player i've ever watched. He lives in my hometown on Cape Cod but i've yet to run into him. I think Derek and Orr both have homes here in a gated community on top of a golf course.
 
kim clackson
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10-14-08 04:59 PM - Post#961181    


    In response to FitzG

Wow, great stories! Thanks for posting them, Tuffguy. Reading them has made me want to buy his book. Thanks again.
 
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