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GameEight 05-01-2013 12:45 AM

Met any hockey stars?
Does anybody out there have any stories they might like to share that involve meeting up with hockey stars? I'm not thinking so much about just meeting any stars, but if there was anything odd or funny that happened when you did. This is my anecdote, although one may need to be a bit older to see why I thought this was funny.

I was on a jet returning to Canada from Hawaii, just after the Sapporo Winter Games in early 1972. I was almost ten years old at the time, the flight back to Vancouver I sat next to this friendly man.

Early on he found out that I was from Canada and that I liked hockey. Once that was established he told me that he was friends with the great Gordie Howe. From that time on he wouldn't stop talking insider stories about Mr. Hockey. I was quite taken to see a grown man go on and on like that. And even though I was just a young kid, I could tell that this was his 'hockey shtick'.

But I must have made a polite audience. Because at some point stopped momentarily, offering to have his close friend send me a personally autographed photo. Mom and dad consented, so I gave the man our address. If I recall correctly I think I figured that nothing was going to come of this . . .

Months passed, then years, and decades...

Early one afternoon I was at a sporting goods store in Vancouverm about an hour before the women's gold medal ice hockey game at the Vancouver Olympics. I was standing in line with a CD in hand as the cue inched forward.

My turn came, and I stepped forward, just as the great Gordie Howe looked up straight at me.

He was there to sign autographs for people who bought gear. But that wasn't why I came. So, when I stepped forward I said,

"Mr. Howe, when I was a kid you once sent me an 8 x 10 inch autographed glossy photo of yourself. That was a real thrill, sir. And I'd just like to express my appreciation by offering you a compilation CD I did with some other musicians here in Vancouver."

So I handed the CD over to him. As Mr. Hockey looked it over I mentioned in passing that the first song was an ode to Bobby Orr (by The Dave Stanley Band).

When Gordie Howe heard Bobby Orr's name he looked up and away. Then he cracked the faintest smile and said,

"That Bobby Orr, he's a good kid."

Chairman Maouth 05-02-2013 06:31 PM

I've met quite a few.

Bobby Clarke, Cesare Maniago, Don Saleski, Glenn Hall, Red Berenson. Some others who had brief stints in the NHL like Larry Hale. My uncle played for the Hawks and Blues so of course I met him too. Glenn Hall was and still is close friends with my uncle. I went fishing with them and Red Berenson a number of times. I also have another family member that did quite well at hockey. For obvious reasons I don't want to say who my relatives are though.

And yes I met Gordie Howe too. I got his autograph when I was a kid at Brentwood Mall in Burnaby.

Big Phil 05-02-2013 08:41 PM

Met the Rocket twice. Very feisty indeed, even off the ice. Had a very hard exterior to him and his eyes scared the heck out of me.

Bobby Hull was very nice the times I met him. Took time to sign autographs at will.

Paul Henderson was another nice guy as advertised. I asked him the last time I met him why he wasn't on the 1976 Canada Cup team. I said to him that the way he played against the Russians in 1972 could have given him a roster spot. He said, and I quote: "The WHA guys couldn't play." I sort of questioned it saying, "But didn't Bobby Hull play?" (knowing full well he did). Henderson paused and said, "No, I'm not sure he did." Still an honour to meet the man. Class act.

Don Cherry was a treat to meet. Was very laid back when I met him, very cordial.

Kevin Lowe was sitting in the stands during a game at the Kitchener Auditorium doing some scouting. It was early on in the 2001-'02 season. I noticed him sitting up there by himself with no one around. I sat next to him and asked him how he felt the 2002 Olympic team was going to unravel. Iginla was having a breakout year and I said: "He's got to make the team right?" Kevin said, "He's having a hell of a year." Then I asked him about Ryan Smyth's chances since he was in Edmonton. He sort of cocked his head and shrugged his shoulders and that was it.

alko 05-03-2013 01:55 AM

One time, i was in the city center of Bratislava and on the other side of the street i saw MARIAN HOSSA!!!! :yo:

Dreakmur 05-03-2013 03:01 AM


Originally Posted by Big Phil (Post 65140399)
Bobby Hull was very nice the times I met him. Took time to sign autographs at will.

Same. I ran into him at a hockey tournament in Chicago - he held the door open for our team and welcomed us. I took a few steps through the door and came back for a double-take. He talked to me for well over an hour.

Stan Mikita and Gordie Howe were also at that tournament. Neither were nearly as friendly as Hull.


Don Cherry was a treat to meet. Was very laid back when I met him, very cordial.
Again, same. Ran into him while I was scouting the OHL Cup a few years back. He actually came over to me and started talking. I forget who the Chiefs were playing, but I remember we talked mostly about Boone Jenner.

Hawkman 05-03-2013 09:25 AM

I played against Modano and Mark Johnson. Both were clean, classy gentlemen players who did not trash talk.

CharasInCharge 05-03-2013 09:38 AM

I've met Ray Bourque numerous times as he's been really great in supporting Boston area youth hockey.

heretik27 05-03-2013 10:32 AM

When I was 7 I got to meet a whole bunch of the Jets players back in the 92-93' season coming out of the old arena after a practice. Got a lot of autographs, and a picture with Teemu. Teemu hasn't changed to this very day, he still smiles and is just a generally pleasant person. Tie Domi on the other hand was a complete jerk about stopping to sign an autograph for me which was pretty disappointing because him and Selanne were my idols at the time.

VanIslander 05-03-2013 10:42 AM

1. I played golf with Mark Recchi back in high school (I grew up in Kamloops, his friend was a friend with my best friend). He's such a regular guy.

2. I shook Ken Dryden's hand, a momentous occasion as he had been my childhood hero, though I was an adult at the time of the encounter. He's big and has a strong firm grip (squeeze! ouch!).

3. I interviewed Matt Cooke, Donald Brashear and Mattias Ohlund while a journalist at Canucks training camp. Cooke and Brashear gave me every second I needed and more, including extra availability time and a wave at practice. Ohlund acted aloof and seemed annoyed, clearly was happy to leave and ignore me later.

SealsFan 05-03-2013 12:48 PM

I "met" Germain Gagnon of the first-year Islanders when he was sitting in the "press box" of the time, i.e a table against the back wall of the arena. Had no idea who he was since I attended Islander games to see the visiting teams and didn't care about the Isles. A friend knew who he was and dared me to go up and get his autograph.

brianscot 05-03-2013 01:18 PM

Back in the early 80s, I met Jean Ratelle and Rick Middleton at a race track here in Maine. Ratelle was quiet, while Middleton had a very sly sense of humor.

One time in Starbucks before a game (the starbucks is right down the street from the arena) Andrew Brunette was ahead of me in line and bought enough caffeine to launch a Saturn V Rocket.

My mother worked in a restaurant where many AHL players came in for their game day pasta loading, She was always impressed how the veteran players looked out for the kids, especially the Quebecois and European kids who weren't that confident in English yet.

Her favorite customer? Overwhelmingly, Tom McVie. He was always polite and chatty. She told him that I was a Bruins fan, so he wrote down on a napkin the line combinations and defense pairings he would use if he was coaching the team. 30 years on, I still have it.

Hawksfan2828 05-04-2013 05:56 PM


Originally Posted by Dreakmur (Post 65169711)
Same. I ran into him at a hockey tournament in Chicago - he held the door open for our team and welcomed us. I took a few steps through the door and came back for a double-take. He talked to me for well over an hour.

Stan Mikita and Gordie Howe were also at that tournament. Neither were nearly as friendly as Hull.

Again, same. Ran into him while I was scouting the OHL Cup a few years back. He actually came over to me and started talking. I forget who the Chiefs were playing, but I remember we talked mostly about Boone Jenner.

Bobby Hull is a very nice guy. He is really the only player I have ever just randomly "bumped into." About 10 years ago I walked into a half empty bar in Highland Park, Illinois after a short day of work (I'm a contractor). I was with my boss at the time (his name is Tony Esposito) and we were waiting for his girlfriend to show up and meet us... So we're having a few beers, then I hear this laughing from across the bar - there were a couple of older guys across the bar laughing having a good time... Then I notice it's Bobby Hull. I told the bartender to send him over whatever he was drinking on me (I really didn't want to bother him, I just wanted to say "hi" in a passive way). He gets his drink, the bartender points over to me, I raise my beer, give him a nod and I raise my Hawks Indian Head shirt up so he could see that I was a fan. Long story short - he sticks his finger out and gestures for me to come over.. I went over and He thanked me and said I was the only person that has recognized him thus far... Anyways, we talked hockey for a good 15-20 minutes, he autographed my shirt and went our separate ways..

Very nice guy....

I've met him a couple other times and 100's of other former players, but only at personal appearances. Except for the time I went to Murray Bannermans goalie clinic when I was a kid I met a bunch of players then.

Habsfan18 05-04-2013 06:38 PM

Having attended Bob Hartley's hockey camp twice in the early 00's when I was a young teen, I met Joe Sakic, Dany Heatley, Marc-Andre Fleury, Francis Bouillon, Martin Lapointe, Denis Hamel, and of course Bob Hartley, and Michel Therrien.

Fleury was extremely shy, but nice, but he was only an 18 year old kid. Dany Heatley coming to the camp was actually a week before the unfortunate car crash that claimed the life of Dan Snyder. It really seemed like he wanted to be anywhere else than at the hockey camp. He signed cards for about 20 of us players, and kept his head down the entire time without saying a single word to any of us.

Joe Sakic, on the other hand, was the friendliest player by far and one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. We all had breakfast with him and he was just great. I ran into him in the back, near the dressing rooms, and he came up to me with a big smile on his face, and shook MY hand, instead of the other way around. Great guy.

One of my favorite memories from the camp was Francis Bouillon unleashing a massive slap shot which dented a young goaltenders helmet. :laugh: Kid couldn't believe it, but had quite the souvenir!

Yamaguchi 05-04-2013 11:13 PM

I have spoken with Tretiak on the phone once.

alko 05-05-2013 03:33 AM


Originally Posted by Yamaguchi (Post 65310667)
I have spoken with Tretiak on the phone once.

I with Jozef Golonka. And also with Robert Svehla.

pdd 05-05-2013 05:00 AM

Skated with Red Berenson a bit during camps.

Also... does David Harlock count? :laugh:

DJ Man 05-05-2013 09:18 AM

Late 1960s, the Chicago Black Hawks played an exhibition game in Columbus, Ohio against their minor league affiliate, the Checkers, I think.

My uncle -- Chicago born-and-raised, but transferred to Columbus with his insurance company, spotted a group of Black Hawks in civilian garb at a local restaurant.

The players had figured they'd be anonymous there, but he walks by and says something like "Hey, Stosh, you sure laid a good one on Fontinato last week," and gets Stan Mikita's attention.

The players wered impressed that anyone there would recognize them, and they had a good chat with him.

Dennis Bonvie 05-05-2013 09:57 AM

Had dinner with Rick Middleton & Terry O'Reilly. O'Reilly one of the nicest people I've ever met. Middleton did indeed have an understated sense of humor (I admired that).

Met Marty Howe at a youth hockey camp. Told him I was a Bruins fan and he said the one season he played for Boston (1983) thay were the best bunch of guys he'd ever played with.

Also Met Mr. Hockey at the same camp. I've told this one a few time on these boards.

Gordie was showing my then 6 year-old son how to shoot on the backhand. As I'm basking in the glory of this event, Mr. Howe suddenly picks up my son and carries him over to the bench. I rush over and Gordie asks "who's boy is this"? Now, this being a mid-week morning, I'm the only father in the place with all mothers. So, I raise my hand and Gordie chuckles. "Great, I'm glad its a father. You put your son's skates on the wrong feet." Great. I think I responded "and I'm Polish too". So Mr. Howe then proceeds to tell me and the many mothers how he once bought skates for his granddaughter for Christmas. He took her out for a skate and once again noticed something wasn't right. Actually, it was left. Two left skates. "Can you imagine, Mr. Hockey buys two left skates for his granddaughter!" Big laughs. I don't think it was a true story, but he could probably tell I was bit embarrassed so he tooks some of that off me. What a great man.

tjcurrie 05-05-2013 10:14 AM

Back when I was 14 I met Bob Gainey.

He was coaching Minnesota who was in town that weekend to play the Oilers and being a huge fan of the Stars, I got the crazy idea to call hotels in the city to see where they were staying so I could maybe head down and meet them.

After several failed attempts, I called the Westin and sure enough...

"Are the Minnesota North Stars there?"

"Can you give me a name?"

"Mike Modano"

"Yes would you like me to put you through to his room?"

*Panic mode "No thanks!" *Click

I called back and asked for Bob Gainey. She said he wasn't in right now but asked if I'd like to leave my name and number. So I did.

5 minutes later.....

My brother handed me the phone, "It's Bob Gainey!"

Asked me if he knew me, I said, "No I'm just a fan." We chatted for 5 minutes or so. I told him that yes I'm going to the game the next night, talked about the team, myself, etc.

So we got off the phone and that was that....so I thought.

He called back the next day looking for me but I was out. He was seeing if I wanted to actually come to the hotel to meet the team. He told my dad to bring me down to the bench before the game.

We headed down during warm ups and chatted for a bit. He told us to come down after the game too. So we did. He took us down just outside the dressing room and stood with us chatting the whole time. I met all the players and got autographs as they left the dressing room to get on to the bus. Even got my Modano jersey that my dad bought me signed. Of course I still have it.

The next year (1st year as the Dallas Stars) a buddy and I went to the game and headed down for warm ups. Mr.Gainey sees me and says, "Hi Travis! I see you still have your Stars jacket." I couldnt believe he remembered my name. He bought Modano over to sign my Beckett magazine he was on the cover of.

Bob Gainey is the classiest hockey guy you could ever hope to meet. Such a shame he's suffered so much tragedy the last few years.

Dennis Bonvie 05-05-2013 10:24 AM


Originally Posted by BruinsNation2013 (Post 65177157)
I've met Ray Bourque numerous times as he's been really great in supporting Boston area youth hockey.

A good friend of mine met Ray Bourque in a pub in Ireland. He introduced himself and shook hands and figured that was it. When my friend went up to the bar later for drinks, Ray's table is right there and he calls my buddie over for a drink. Both of them were over in Ireland on some type of golf holiday, so they talked golf for awhile. Once again, testimony to a hockey great that turns out to be a great guy too.

Cake or Death 05-06-2013 05:19 AM

I had a semi-interesting time getting a Gretzky autograph in 1988. The Kings were playing in NY and doing a public practice. I did a painting of Gretzky I wanted signed, but post-practice the players started getting on a team bus. I caught Dave Taylor and asked if he'd take the painting on the bus to ask Gretzky to sign it, and he did. Taylor went on the bus, but he came back out without the painting and said, "Wayne loves it and he wants to keep it." I was dumbfounded and said, "Are you kidding me?" Taylor said, "No, Wayne really loves it." I was speechless at that point and after a short silence Taylor finally said he was just messing with me, that Wayne was looking for the a good spot to sign it and will bring it to me personally. Anyway, this is the piece on my facebook page....


eddytheeagle20 05-06-2013 05:24 AM

i met mike eagles once played for the hawks and nordiques he also graduated highschool with my mother

Shootmaster_44 05-06-2013 06:59 PM

Only NHL star I have ever met was Guy Lafleur. My Dad is a huge Habs fan, so when we were in Montreal, I had discovered he had a restaurant called Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in Rosemere. The website made it look like a Habs version of Gretzky's in Toronto. I had no illusions that Guy would even be there, but thought my Dad would get a kick out of the Habs memorabilia on the wall. Anyway, we were sitting eating and there is a second floor with banquet rooms and offices and my Dad thought he saw Guy wandering around up there. He mentioned it to the waitress and she said, no couldn't be him he never comes here. She comes back and mentions that yeah it was Guy and would we like to meet him. He came down and chatted for a few minutes and signed an autograph for my Dad. I was shocked how large (tall and muscular) the man was.

The funny part was after he went back upstairs, my Dad mentioned to a table behind us that Guy was here and that they just missed meeting him. The guy casually looked at my Dad and said, not a big deal Guy is my neighbor.

The only other hockey players I have met were journeymen NHLers. The best was Kevin Kaminski, who played 139 games with Minnesota, Quebec and Washington. When I was maybe 8 or 9, my friend and I were having a Kool-Aid stand/hockey card sale on our front sidewalk. He was driving by and stopped and bought a glass of Kool-Aid, we didn't know it was him until he said do you have my hockey card in there? We actually did and he bought his hockey card. We were such great entrepreneurs, he didn't have any money so he said he'd run home and get the money and come back. We even let him take the cup with him. He did come back and gave us the $1 or whatever and signed autographs.

The only bad star experience was with Shaquille O'Neal. He was doing a book signing when I was in LA and I went to it. I didn't expect some big thing, but he signed my book and I said thanks Shaq, came all the way from Canada for this. He gave me a slight grunt and barely acknowledged my presence. You could tell he didn't want to be there that night and was annoyed by the whole thing. All I had hoped for was a smile and an acknowledgement of my presence.

I also have seen Braden Holtby, but didn't want to bother him. I buy my lunch nearly daily from the little market his parents own. Last summer he was there with his wife/girlfriend and his baby talking to Mom and Dad. I didn't want to be one of those guys who bothers someone just living their life, but he was there.

I also went to Cuba with Dan Focht who had a cup of tea in the NHL. I didn't realize he had played in the NHL and he was talking about living in Arizona and I thought he was talking about playing for the Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League, not the Coyotes. He works with my brother in law, and this was a Christmas bonus for the company that I was invited along with.

UpGoesRupp 05-07-2013 02:34 PM

I grew up with a couple NHLer's but it is still cool to see them at the local tennis courts in the off-season or on the links. Sometimes at the small pub.

I recently drove to LA and went to a dodgers game and as we were walking out my buddies and I saw Willie Mitchell. My friend asked if he was him and he looked pretty startled that someone recognized him from LA. We asked him for a picture and he obliged. As we were posing I told him We were from Vancouver Island and he took a shine to us pretty quick asking how the drive down was and how long we were here for.

We asked him if he played for Tri-Port which is a really crappy minor hockey team and he laughed and yes. Then we told him where we were from and he asked if they still make 12 year olds do the eight hour drive from Victoria up to Tri-Port we laughed and yes. We then parted ways and I asked if he could at least bring the cup back to Victoria and he smirked a bit and walked away for about 3 steps and turned around and said "If i'm lucky enough to win again I'll drive down one more time" and walked off.

Really cool guy. Wished us well on our road trip. seemed genuinely impressed by how far we drove etc. haha

EDIT: When he first asked why we were all the way down. Me and my 2 buddies both thought of saying "TO FIND YOU WILLIE" but opted out of being creepy as he might not respect our humour haha.

Sony Eriksson* 05-07-2013 02:46 PM

My brother is a Director of Marketing for Allstate and knowing how much Allstate is involved with hockey in Chicago we meet great players all the time. When i went up a few weeks back we went out to dinner and had cocktails with Espisito, Savard and Hull to name a few. Last year prior to the lockout we met up with Kane and Toews on different nights. Its good to have connections in your family.

My best story thought was when i was 14 years old and was on an exchange hockey program with a team in Radisson, Saskatchewan. It was a charity event to save the local rink that had been there for like 70 years. They had a benefit at an arena (can't recall the name of it) in Saskatoon. They had Canadian TV celebs Alan Thicke, Michael J Fox and a few others come out. Us kids were sitting around getting ready to play a charity game and who the hell walks out all in his gear? Gordie Howe baby! I played on a line with Gordie Howe and scored on a one-timer from him. I have the puck i scored with and he on it.

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