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What unhealthy/out of shape stars would have benefitted most by being a bit smarter?

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08-30-2013, 06:00 PM
  #1
Dontdive
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What unhealthy/out of shape stars would have benefitted most by being a bit smarter?

You know the stereotype - the "old school" hockey players who used to smoke, rarely worked out, and had a beer (or two) after every game. Of course there were significant exceptions to this, but it was definitely true of a lot of players in the past.

You can't get away with that anywhere near as much now, but "back then" even many stars did this and still managed to dominate. One can only imagine how much better they would even if they had simply changed very basic things to improve their health, like not smoking.

So please note I am not talking about players following the fitness regimes that NHL players use today, it wouldn't have been reasonable they would have known that much back then. I'm only talking about obvious and basic improvements to their lifestyles.

Because even then, trust me, they knew smoking was bad for you! They were simply unwise enough to do it anyways, and the teams that employed them were stupid enough to let them get away with it.

So who was the worst of the stars this way, who by just exercising a tiny bit more, smoking less, drinking less, etc, etc - could have really improved their game?

Without even going too far back, would Mario Lemieux have been a good example? From what I understand, early in his career at least, he smoked and hardly ever exercised.

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08-30-2013, 06:45 PM
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Don Murdoch, Rangers.

Barry Beck, also?

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08-30-2013, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by SealsFan View Post
Don Murdoch, Rangers.

Barry Beck, also?
You think Barry Beck? He was the epitome of a bodybuilder.

I would have to say Guy Lafleur. Smoked a ton of cigarettes. Was a little careless off the ice, getting into a car accident that was carrying a young Wayne Gretzky as the passenger (far as I know Wayne has never confirmed this). Didn't take care of himself and had his last elite year in 1980 when he still should have been the best winger in the game for a while.

As for the players of yesteryear, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they all had summer jobs, or some had jobs during the day before the games just to make ends meet. Phil Esposito worked in a steel mill until he was 30 years old in the summers. It isn't that the players weren't still in better shape than the average man, it is just that it was hard to focus on training when you were working on an assembly line.

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08-30-2013, 07:40 PM
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Killion
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Im assuming you mean more from the 1970's on, as previously there are tens of dozens, hundreds who for a variety of reasons didnt follow any kind of exercise or diet regime' whatsover throughout their careers. Training Camp was just that. A time to get your legs & wind back, by Christmas in reasonably decent shape. Entirely different World from today of course.

Of more recent vintage theres Kyle Wellwood. Crafty little player, always liked the guy, took a Bum Rap for being overweight & out of shape when he showed up in Vancouver however in his defense, he'd suffered 3 groin injuries and a broken leg prior to reporting so how much one can attribute to him being "out of shape" is hard to say. In Toronto, the butt of fat jokes yet he weighed a mere 180lbs, not exactly Super Heavyweight. Yet somehow, he became like a Poster Boy for lazy, out of shape players. He was used like a spare part, not given a lot of ice-time, respect as a result. Pity really, because when he was "on", guy displayed some serious two way smarts. Quick, exciting player to watch.


Last edited by Killion: 08-30-2013 at 09:34 PM.
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08-30-2013, 08:18 PM
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Mario Lemieux would have had an even better career if he had smartened up sooner and worked out during summers.

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08-30-2013, 08:30 PM
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Was Keith Tkachuk always fat? I remember him being so during some court hearing concerning Mike Danton.

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08-30-2013, 08:37 PM
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Doug Harvey. One of the all-time greats but boy, the booze . . .

Also, Terry Sawchuk, whose "issues" were painstakingly researched by Randy Maggs (Darryl's brother) and published in "The Sawchuk Poems" about 7-8 years ago.

Howie Young also qualifies.

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08-30-2013, 09:00 PM
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Killion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Phil Esposito worked in a steel mill until he was 30 years old in the summers.
Say what? Never heard this one before BP. He was born in 42 so your suggesting he worked in a steel mill every summer until 1972 after winning 2 SC's with Boston? I know his first job was with Algoma Steel up there in the Soo but how is that even remotely possible, the leagues then leading scorer by 72, Captain of the Bruins, leading scorer of the league by then and for several years.... are you sure your not thinking he mightve returned the Soo from his stints in the minors & maybe for a few seasons with Chicago earlier on? That would make sense. But through til 72? Like he went from Algoma Steel to Team Canada? I dont think so Big Guy.

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08-30-2013, 09:03 PM
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Say what? Never heard this one before BP. He was born in 42 so your suggesting he worked in a steel mill every summer until 1972 after winning 2 SC's with Boston? I know his first job was with Algoma Steel up there in the Soo but how is that even remotely possible, the leagues then leading scorer by 72, Captain of the Bruins, leading scorer of the league by then and for several years.... are you sure your not thinking he mightve returned the Soo from his stints in the minors & maybe for a few seasons with Chicago earlier on? That would make sense. But through til 72? Like he went from Algoma Steel to Team Canada? I dont think so Big Guy.
when was espo ever captain of the bruins?

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08-30-2013, 09:13 PM
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Killion
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Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
when was espo ever captain of the bruins?
... ya, my mistake on that one but still. I have hard time believing a guy like thats working in a steel mill summers. Maybe while playing for St.Catherines, Syracuse, St.Louis & Chicago through 64 or 65 but beyond that?

Also Note;
Lets keep this discussion to post 1967/68 Expansion.


Last edited by Killion: 08-30-2013 at 09:33 PM.
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08-30-2013, 10:33 PM
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... ya, my mistake on that one but still. I have hard time believing a guy like thats working in a steel mill summers. Maybe while playing for St.Catherines, Syracuse, St.Louis & Chicago through 64 or 65 but beyond that?

Also Note;
Lets keep this discussion to post 1967/68 Expansion.
Yeah, I think beyond that. IIRC it included some of his time with the Bruins. Back then if you had a contract in place you tended to play it out without re-negotiating, Art Ross on your mantle or not.

Bobby Hull was a bit of a maverick that fought the system, even prior to jumping ship to the WHA, but most players took what they could get without holding out. Keep in mind that 72 coincides with the WHA start up and pressure on salaries to go up.

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08-30-2013, 11:35 PM
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Guy Lafleur was the fittest player on the canadiens along with Gainey.All physical tests done on Lafleur was close to perfection.Gretzey was opposite his tests as an oiler were less than average.So children grow up you know Joe Montana and Michael Jordan were the biggest party animals in na sport.Stories I could tell you but I cant stuff they did makes lafleur an angel

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08-31-2013, 07:01 AM
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The Flyers in the 70s had more than a few imbibers, but the two who strike me as falling into the "what might have been" category are Reggie Leach and "Bearded" Bill Flett. Leach, of course, had his days of stardom, but lived what we might politely call an undisciplined lifestyle that likely kept a very good career from reaching HoF status.

Flett's is truly a "my God, what might have been" story of elite talent squandered, mostly in the WHA after the Flyers cut him loose. Died a dozen or so years ago at 55. Organ failure after a liver transplant.

Today, isn't the poster child for the "fat and out of shape" player Dustin Penner? For Leaf followers, Kadri gets nailed with the "Doritos and TV" tag often enough, but that could still change.

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08-31-2013, 07:38 AM
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Like Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin were both heavy smokers, though I don't know how much better any of them could be expected to have been.

Ian Turnbull had a reputation of liking to relax and enjoy himself a little too much away from the rink. He had the talent to be as good as Salming (see the way he stepped up after Salming's injury in the '78 playoffs), but the conditioning and desire weren't at that level.

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08-31-2013, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
...As for the players of yesteryear, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they all had summer jobs, or some had jobs during the day before the games just to make ends meet. Phil Esposito worked in a steel mill until he was 30 years old in the summers. It isn't that the players weren't still in better shape than the average man, it is just that it was hard to focus on training when you were working on an assembly line.
Exactly. This was why the players on the original Summit Series team could not work out off season.

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08-31-2013, 08:26 AM
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Killion
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Yeah, I think beyond that. IIRC it included some of his time with the Bruins. Back then if you had a contract in place you tended to play it out without re-negotiating, Art Ross on your mantle or not.
By 1972? I dont think so. I was playing back then & salaries had gotten to the point by 1970'ish that that was no longer a requirement unless you were middle pack or border-line. Sure a lot of guys worked regardless summers, had business interests on-going throughout the season. Esposito had a hockey camp along with several others. Just having a hard time believing he returned to Algoma Steel every summer after scoring 76 goals, helping the Bruins to two Stanley Cups etc.... as in proof please.

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Exactly. This was why the players on the original Summit Series team could not work out off season.
Hawkman, thats just not the case. Yes some of them had business interests & worked through the summers but by 72 after the Orr Rookie Contract of several years earlier salaries had increased to the point that for most, and certainly in most cases of those selected to play for Team Canada in 1972 working off-season wasnt a necessity but an option, and one many did indeed exercise absolutely. While its true the WHA Wars hadnt started in earnest by then, that Orr Contract and the formation of the NHLPA in 1967 did in fact give a boost to player salaries right across the board. Not buying the excuse that because all of Team Canada 72's players were working, couldnt get into shape. Most of them were hanging out on the dock at the cottage, waterskiing, fishing, golfing, whatever. And Im supposed to believe Phil Esposito was up in the Soo workin at Algoma Steel? Ah, dont think so.

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08-31-2013, 08:34 AM
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Big Phil
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Say what? Never heard this one before BP. He was born in 42 so your suggesting he worked in a steel mill every summer until 1972 after winning 2 SC's with Boston? I know his first job was with Algoma Steel up there in the Soo but how is that even remotely possible, the leagues then leading scorer by 72, Captain of the Bruins, leading scorer of the league by then and for several years.... are you sure your not thinking he mightve returned the Soo from his stints in the minors & maybe for a few seasons with Chicago earlier on? That would make sense. But through til 72? Like he went from Algoma Steel to Team Canada? I dont think so Big Guy.
http://en.rian.ru/sports/20120224/171490868.html

I know I saw it in a Legends of Hockey interview but he says it in this interview as well. In 1971 he made $18,000 in the NHL. According to that interview he still worked that summer. Imagine, Phil Esposito, owner of the single season goals and points record working at a steel mill in the summer of 1971.

By 1972 the salaries practically tripled and Phil and Tony were going to have a hockey camp up in the Soo that summer until Esposito convinced him to play in the Summit Series. So I guess he still would have worked that summer. But after 1972, he didn't have to.

So yeah, up until 40 years ago the players worked in the summer. Phil Esposito was doing it, so you know the common player would have been too.

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08-31-2013, 08:52 AM
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As crazy as it sounds, Lemieux. The guy was a smoker and wasn't always physically fit.

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08-31-2013, 08:57 AM
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As crazy as it sounds, Lemieux. The guy was a smoker and wasn't always physically fit.
"What is your off-season workout regime Mario?"

"Not ordering the fries with my sandiwich."


Classic quote, and it makes you laugh in a way because Mario was simply THAT good of a player but this was earlier in his career I think, and had he taken things more seriously it is possible that he may not have been better per se, but he may have had less injuries.

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08-31-2013, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
http://en.rian.ru/sports/20120224/171490868.html

I know I saw it in a Legends of Hockey interview but he says it in this interview as well. In 1971 he made $18,000 in the NHL. According to that interview he still worked that summer. Imagine, Phil Esposito, owner of the single season goals and points record working at a steel mill in the summer of 1971.
I think he said something similar in his book. Then again, he seemed to have a faulty/exaggerated memory about a lot of things that he wrote there.

I remember hearing somewhere that Dallas Smith had to reject his Summit Series invite because of commitments to his summer job. May or may not be true, but it would seem more believable for Dallas Smith to have to than for Phil Esposito.

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08-31-2013, 09:06 AM
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By 1972? I dont think so. I was playing back then & salaries had gotten to the point by 1970'ish that that was no longer a requirement unless you were middle pack or border-line.
Just curious: are you a former NHL or AHL player? Not asking you to reveal your identity, but it would be cool if there was a former pro player on here to add insights the rest of us wouldn't have.

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08-31-2013, 10:03 AM
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Just curious: are you a former NHL or AHL player? Not asking you to reveal your identity, but it would be cool if there was a former pro player on here to add insights the rest of us wouldn't have.
I know one former player who went on to scouting who hangs around here. I dont know if Killion did reach those heights tho, I know he was working i n europe for a while tho

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08-31-2013, 10:37 AM
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Derek Sanderson should be one of the poster boys for this thread.

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08-31-2013, 11:41 AM
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Didnot Eddie the Eagle smoke and drink? It must have impact on his reflexes...

Obvious example si Mario for me.

Peter Stastny in his autobiography writes about Nordiques goalie Michel Plasse who was such a heavy smoker that smoked 2 cigarettes between periods. Sure, back then it was quite normal when player smokes, but Plasse rode it into extreme.
Stastny mentioned a story, when Plasse got injured after rather regular save. Puck shot him into the place where he has hidden his firestarter.
Plasse is obviously nothing more than a trivia question about goalie which scored a first goal in professional league, but it's a weird story.

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08-31-2013, 12:48 PM
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Jacques Richard could have been so good without the booze and coke. Ditto for Bryan Fogarty for the alcoholism. On the other hand, I'm not sure drinking less would have had much of an effect on Gump Worsley's goaltending. The booze probably made maskless goalies a bit less fearful.

-------------------------------

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/14/sp...n-the-nhl.html

Quote:
Jacques Richard, who played 10 years in the National Hockey League and later served a prison sentence for drug smuggling, died after a car accident on Tuesday. He was 50.

Richard lost control of his car and crashed into a culvert, the police in Quebec said.

In 1972, Richard was the first-ever draft pick by the Atlanta Flames and later played with Buffalo before finishing his career with Quebec. He scored 160 career goals and had 147 assists.

His best season was in 1980-81 with the Nordiques, when he scored 52 goals with 51 assists. He retired in 1983.

In February 1989, Richard was arrested at Montreal's Mirabel Airport when he returned from Colombia with more than five pounds of cocaine in the bottom of a golf bag. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prison.


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