Glen Sonmor Interview
Q.This is Kyle from Vintage Minnesota Hockey sitting down with Glen
Sonmor. I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and do this
interview with us today, Glen.
A.Thanks, Kyle. My pleasure. Q.Glen, you truly are a Minnesota hockey icon. Your Minnesota hockey
experiences including playing with the Millers in ’49-’50, serving as head
coach for the Gophers from ’65-’71, head coach and general and manager
for the Minnesota Fighting Saints from ’72-’76, coaching for the North Stars
in three different stints, from ’72-’83, ’84-’85 and ’86-’87, compiling a
coaching record of 174-161-82 in 417 games for the North Stars, and led the club to their fascinating first Stanley Cup appearance in ’81. From the Stars to the IHL's Minnesota Moose from ’94-’96 as director of player development. To today as an amateur scout for the Minnesota Wild, and radio analyst for the Gophers. Wow, looking back on all of this, it must be something for yourself.
A.It certainly is! I realize how lucky I am. I was told by a lot of people, my high school basketball coach, that the most important thing in life is to do what you love. I hear Harvey McKay say that, do what you want, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise, that's a great guide for life. I had a high school basketball coach whom I had great respect for. He also coached me in baseball, too. So I went and asked him what I should do. He told me, Kyle, it’s... This is the kind of guy he was, that’s why I went to him. He wasn’t a high school coach, or teacher rather, he was an accountant, but he coached our high school basketball team, and he had everything organized, so I knew when I asked him what I should do, ‘cause I was finishing high school and I was concerned about what was I going to do. I knew I wanted to go to college but I didn’t know what I wanted to take, and I had... it sounds like boasting, but I was a good student and I thought I wanted to be a physical education teacher, but I had some teachers were saying, "oh, Glen, you’ll be bored bouncing a ball around, you should be a lawyer." That’s probably because I talked too much even then. But I knew it, I said, I’ll go to George, he’ll tell me. So I went to George Ferris was his name, and I said George, just as I knew he would, he said, here’s what you do. Step 1 – take a day and go by yourself somewhere where you’re not going to be interrupted and be absolutely honest with yourself and say what do I love to do best in life, when I have no demands from my parents, and money is not, I don’t have to make money, what gives you just joy to do. That’s step 1. Decide what that is. Step 2 is go and find the profession that is most closely aligned to that, and I don’t care if it’s building model airplanes, there is a profession closely aligned to what you love to do. So that’s step 2, decide what that is. Step 3 is go and get the best preparation you can get for that career or whatever you want to call it. I don’t care if it means you have go get a PhD, go get a PhD. If it means you gotta go to trade school ‘cause you like that kind of stuff, then go to trade school. But he said, do that, and he said get into that with your enthusiasm and passion for it and don’t worry about making money or success. You will be successful and, he said, I’ll tell you why you’ll be successful, too. You won’t be looking at the clock and saying gosh, it’s only 3:00 and I gotta work till 5:30, or worse than that, you won’t be saying, gosh, it’s only Tuesday and I don’t get a day off till Saturday, or worst of all you won’t be saying, it’s only March the 15 and I don’t have my vacation till August the 12th. And people live like that. Well, I had a dad who had trouble with alcohol, that I was to have later so that was part of it, but also he had never had a chance to get any, but I watched a very unhappy life for him, because he never really wound up doing anything he loved to do. So for me that was easy. I was gonna, go back to my idea of being a physical education teacher, because that was around sports, and that’s all I cared about. So I remember that, and I’d been so blessed that my whole life now, I kid with my friends and as I said, "I’ve reached retirement age, I’ve never had a real job, and I’ve never faxed anything." (laughing) Q.Good for you Glen, that is something to be proud of. A. I laughed at my first memories of Minnesota because so many of the teams that I was associated with later go out of business – the Fighting Saints, the Stars, Moose, and well there was that team that used to play at 28th and Dupont with Lyle Wright running the rink. We were in the USHL, it was called, with Omaha, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Louisville, and St. Paul. Six of us. And we won the championship and the team folded and moved to Denver. It didn’t affect me because Minneapolis was Cleveland’s farm team, and they took three of us from that team to Cleveland the next year, Hergesheimer who was a great little player, and Sammy Lavitta, jewish defenseman, we took him too to Cleveland the next year. But Maroosh, they went to Denver, well, he wasn’t gonna do that. Well then he played one more year with, St. Paul still had a team. He played there. He told them he was only gonna play the home games. Well once they got started he said he played all of em', but anyway. But John, what people don’t realize about John, John was just a great skater, powerful, powerful. You know what’s amazing. I say this and I hope I’m not wrong. By my memory, John told me he had played in something like in his 100th hockey game ever when he played in the National Hockey League.
We gotta remember they played, like even John is older than I
when we were young in Canada. We didn't get started, I played
bantam when I was about 13 or 14, it was the first team I ever
played with, we were playing on an outside rink. We only played
about ten games a year. It was a different era then, you know. John
got to the NHL, well, you know he played very, very little hockey.
But he was a powerful, powerful skater. He wasn’t a great puck handler, although he could lug the puck and he loved to hit you because you know he played as an end with the football team too. And he played offensive and defensive end too in those days. What was great about him, he used to tell a story. On our team, we were all Canadians except him and that’s when he told me when we met, and he found out farely early that I could play some and he loved that so he was helping me, he was giving me some pointers about my game. But the other thing was, he’s told me this, I’ll never forget, he said, "Kid, he said, you (I was 20 then and he was 34), he said, I’ve played pro hockey for ten years now, a little interrupted by World War II a little bit, but about ten years", he said. "All of my teammates are Canadian." There weren’t any Russians. There weren’t any Americans. It was just him. Well he might of played, I don't think LoPresti played in Chicago with him, I think they were, well that is what he told me, but mostly all his teammates had been Canadian. He said, "you’re the first one I’ve ever met who finished high school." So he said, "you’re going to college, to school." He took me. We were right in the playoffs, that finals with Omaha that year, and the spring quarter, the University was in a quarter system, he took me and I was thinking "whatever John says I was gonna do". But you know when you look at it what a blessing that turned out for me, because I was determined I was gonna get a degree. In Canada, or Ontario, the province that I lived in, we had an additional year in high school. We went through grade 13, and they later allowed me to transfer those 13 credits for a full year here. Well I started going, I went that spring quarter and summer session. So the break for me was when the horrible accident happened to me in Pittsburgh, I was 24 years old, gonna be 25 in a week or so, or maybe I was 25. Let’s see it was in ‘55. Yeah, and I was born in ’29. That was in February of '55, so I was 25, and I was going to be 26 in a couple of weeks. When that happened to me, I am laying in the hospital in Pittsburgh. I was playing for Cleveland but we were playing in Pittsburgh. My wife had given birth to our daughter, who is the only child we have, four days earlier. And in those days they kept you in the hospital longer. So she’s in the hospital in Cleveland, and I’m in the hospital in Pittsburgh. And I’m lying there and the doctor, who was a wonderful man, would come in and visit me everyday just to try and keep my spirits up, they were keeping me still because of all the swelling that was up. The puck hit me flush in the eye. I found out later they really just did it for my satisfaction that I wasn’t gonna see out of it any more. Because every day I would wake up and put a hand over my good eye and see if I could see now today, you know. So the doctor told me we gotta stop you from doing that. The other thing, after a while, they would take it out because they were afraid it might affect the other eye. They tell me that with a sharp instrument like if you stuck a scissors in your eye or something, they would take that eye out right away, but I don't understand that. But anyway, when I’m lying there and I am thinking "what in the world am I gonna do, you know." And I'm crushed of course that I am not going to be able to play again, but I’m more scared, I guess, of what am I gonna do for a living, and this tells you about John Mariucci. As soon as they would, ahhahh you know this was, I’d come back to summer school all the time and we kept in touch. But we, you know we hadn't been together. But John’s a wonderful friend. As soon as they would let the call come through, John called me, and I’ll never forget it on the phone. What he
said is, "Don’t worry about anything, Glen. I’ve arranged for you
to be the freshman coach at the University next year so you can
finish up your course work."
Q.As you were laying in the hospital? A.Yeah, I’m laying in the hospital. Yeah, he called me. Q.Oh, that’s something. A.Four days or so after it happened. They wouldn’t let any
calls come through I think for a few days. As soon as they let a
call come through, he’d heard about it, of course. What a
wonderful man. We’re sent guardian angels in our life and John
Mariucci was one for me. But I’m rambling on here.
Q.No, that’s a great story. I think you answered this next question a little bit already. But, in 1953 you played your first NHL game with the Rangers. Where did you play hockey prior to that? A.I started out like any Canadian kid. Actually, mine was a strange kind of case, ‘cause I, ahh, again this will sound like boasting a bit, but I was a high school athlete in a little town, and I was the leading scorer on the basketball team. I was the quarterback on the football team. We didn’t play baseball with the school, because they didn't think that summer was, you know, but I played for a, for like ahh, but actually won after awhile I actually played for a semi-pro team. I was a pitcher in baseball. And hockey, for awhile during the winter I played both basketball and hockey. When I was in high school, I played for the basketball team, and that was at school. And then I played with a midget or juvenile AH under 17, or under 19 hockey team. So, I didn’t have any thought of being a pro hockey player. Probably, hockey was, I hadn’t done nearly as much of that as I’d done the other sports. But what happened was, the one year we had a ahh, I’d play basketball and some nights the guy’d come pick me up in the car and take me to play hockey after that. My baseball coach was the same guy as my basketball coach, he was the guy I told you about that gave me all that advice. He coached me in baseball, too, and I had great respect for him. So he came to me and said, "Glen, he said, I’m not gonna let you play both sports again this year. You’re gonna kill yourself Glen." He said. It really crushed me as a young athlete, he said, "I’ve never seen you play hockey. I’ve had you in my basketball, I’ve had you in baseball. He was the coach of our baseball team too, and I’ve seen you play football, he said. I’ve never seen you play hockey. But he said my advice to you is quit basketball and play hockey." And we won the city championship the year before. I led the league in scoring, as a 17-year-old kid, 16 I guess going to be 17, I looked right at him, I laugh about that now till this day. I looked right at him and I said (his name was George Ferris), I said, "but George, I’m your star." And he said, "I know you are, Glen, but I’m telling you this, they don’t come up here looking for 5’10”, I guess they didn’t call us point guards then, basketball players. They don’t come up looking for 5’10” pitchers or quarterbacks, but they do come up here all the time looking for 5’10” hockey players. He said, I told ya I’ve never seen ya play, but my guess is you’re probably a pretty good hockey player, too, and I advise you to quit basketball." So I went home. I thought it over. Here we’re playing hockey at 9:00 at night at the old rink. There’s nobody there, parents didn't even used to let some of their kids play hockey. In high school, it’s just like here. High school basketball and the whole school body is there, all the cheerleaders and everything. We had a principal who was a sports fanatic, and if we won games, and we did win, we won the championship a couple years in a row, the next morning after our game, he’d cancel the first period at school and we’d have an auditorium, and he had all the players up, and the school body there. So it was easy, I went back to my basketball coach and said; "No, George, I’m playing basketball." So, it’s funny because. That, if this other instance that I gotta tell you about didn’t happen, you know, I was done playing hockey. I was gonna play basketball, go to college and play football, and basketball. We had, I was gonna play for a junior B team that year in hockey, if I played hockey. I went to tell George "I was gonna play basketball", and the basketball coach wouldn’t let me play both. Well during the year one of their hockey players who was a real good baseball player too. That was the era where they had, in baseball, they had class A, B, C and D. Hamilton, my home town had a class D baseball team. Somebody had spotted this kid, I always remember too, his name was Andy Garvis. And he was a really good baseball player. Well, they came in and got him to leave the hockey team and go down to early spring training with some baseball team, I don’t know which one. So now, they got an open spot on the hockey team, but our basketball season, we won the championship again, I led the league in scoring again, and now the hockey coach, he knows that I'm done. So he comes to me, he says, "would you like to come with us." And, "sure, I would just love to come." I said. So I went with them, and they have, Ontario’s a province there, like the state here, and they have a whole bunch of junior B teams, and so we keep having play-downs till they get one champion. Well, I was real lucky that the team was doing really well. So here when I came, I played about 20 playoff games with them and we lost out in the championship round. But then, we were junior B hockey, the lower level down. Well the junior A teams, they were scouting junior B. So one of the teams that was just starting up new in Guelph Ontario, it's only about 30 miles from my home in Hamilton, they came and asked me if I’d like to go and play junior A, you know the top junior leagues in the country. At that point, you know that you maybe are gonna have a chance. So now I’m gonna play hockey, and the guy that was our, which was kinda funny, was a black guy coaching this. He was also the trainer of the Tiger Cat football team. Ricky Lewis was his name, an he was a scout for the Cleveland Barons in hockey. In those days, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about the infamous C-Form that they would sign players to. There was no draft. They’d get you to sign this C-Form which said if you ever played professional hockey, you had to play for them. And they’d give ya $100, which in those days seemed like a ton of money, and they’d give it to ya every year. So he came to me and he wanted me to sign this C-Form. I said "Hell, ya." (laughing) I didn't think there was any chance, they told me, "not only here is a $100 bucks, I would get another $100 the next year." So I signed the C-Form with Cleveland. So now the next year I went and played hockey for that Guelph team, just on the side. And an interesting thing I want to tell ya, I wanted to play one more year of high school football before I went there. So I asked them "can I just come up and practice a bit in Guelph and can I play high school football in my last year of high school there for my high school in Hamilton", and they said, first of all, "NO you can’t do that." Well, the guy who used to coach us was a guy named Bobby Bauer who is a, I don’t know if you know the history of hockey, there was a great, what they used to call the Kraut line that played for the Bruins. They were from Kitchener there. There was Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer, and Woody Dumart. The guy running the team told me "I couldn’t do that." But the coach heard about that and he said to him, "look, I like kids that are athletes, let him go and do that!" And so I played high school football, and snuck up there to Guelph once and a while. So then I went to Guelph and played hockey with them. And I had a pretty decent year, not enough where one would say " I sure am going to be able to play pro hockey," but I think I got 24 goals or something. It was funny because I didn’t score for a long time and then I had two different games where I got four goals in a game. But I wound up with a pretty good record, but nothing sensational though. I had them put in my contract when I signed it that I could get out of there after a year and go to somewhere where the college had a physical education major. Because they didn't, they were involved, or had a vet school or something. So I was gonna try to go to Toronto and play for their team there, and go to the University of Toronto. And, but Cleveland, then who owned my rights by virtue of that C-Form, they were having a training camp in Brandon, Manitoba. So they said "well come to training camp Glen anyway", I said "well I’d like to get back east and play for Toronto before I go." Well I got into Brandon, their campus there, and they thought they were going to have a good junior team, their was a lot of excitement. So finally after a long decision I decided to stay in Brandon, rather than try to go back east and go to school. I couldn't start, they didn’t have a physical education major. But I was getting a little more courage now, I think, and what happened is that, that team had a sensational year. We won the western Canadian championship and I ended up second in the league in scoring or something. So that was the first time probably, Kyle, that it occurred to me that I might be able to make a living out of this game. That’s what I wanted to do, of course. So that was a great thing for me that I was able to play there for that whole year. Then
the next year, after I was done there. Cleveland owned
my rights, and they had training camp there again and
Who was, we always look back now. We just had a
reunion, well it wasn't a reunion because it was a, that
team I am talking about in Brandon that did so well,
they inducted all of us into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of
Fame about a month ago, or 2 months ago now. So
now, talk about feeling old, if they’d have waited it one
more year, that would have been 60 years ago. It was
’48-’49. You know, if they’d waited till 2008-2009 it
would be 60 years. We had a, well to tell ya a funny
story about the guy. The guy who was the captain of
our team in Brandon was just a great guy. He seemed way more mature than all of us. He was married already, had a little child during the year I think, and he had already played a year in Scotland or something. So we thought after, He musta been cheating on his age or something because he can't, whatever. And he was owned by Cleveland, too. So we went to camp the next year. We were both done our junior now, we didn't have any more age eligibility to play junior so they had to put us somewhere, and so they sent both of us here to Minneapolis to play. I gotta tell ya a funny story Kyle, cause it is funny (laughing). He was, I never have known anyone in my life who was so determined to make money. It was far more important than hockey or anything else. So we came down here to Minneapolis and I was looking around, I didn't. He was worldly, he went out, rented an apartment and an extra room for me, put me in. Had me live with the family. Charged me, I don’t think he really worked me, but he charged me sufficient, I’m sure. I tell ya how I know. We made $3500 for the whole year. When the season was over and he was going back home to Canada, he had 22 $100 bills he’d saved. You never knew anybody who would literally not spend any money on anything, not even a paper. He used to say to me, "Glen, somebody will put a paper down after awhile." (laughing hysterically) I don't want to go too much into him, but I’m sorry I didn’t get to see him up there. He just passed away about a year or so ago. But he was a multimillionaire. He was living in, what’s the one in California, Palm Springs? It’s just a little ways away from LA, but it’s where the real rich go. But he would not spend a dime on anything. He would, in those days, I think beer was ten cents a glass and we would, guys would be sittin down on the team and throw a buck in for a couple of beers, and he would say; "ahh here is a quarter, I'm gonna have one beer." He wouldn't spend any money, but he wasn’t a freeloader. He just wouldn’t do it. So "I’m gonna have one beer; and here’s my quarter." And he sacrificed his hockey career. He was a real good player, too. But, he quickly wanted to get to play in one of those semi-pro rounds in Canada where you could make some money on the side, and get started in business. So when we went out to western Canada, and he became Freight King. Well, I gotta tell ya this one more story. (laughing) Like I say he had me in part of the rent, the Montreal Canadians bought him for $20,000 after the year was over. They didn’t have any draft in those days, so there was a rule. You were in the minor leagues and a major league team wanted you and they would pay $20,000, they got him. And he went there but he wasn’t as interested in hockey as he was the other, and they got mad at him, this story, and I knew him so I know it’s true. The big boss in Montreal, Selke called him in and he told him "he played ten games and he had one goal, but he really hadn’t done anything." And the story is that Selke said to him, "King, you must be the world’s worst hockey player." Well he looked right at Selke and said, "well, Mr. Selke, you must be the world’s worst businessman, because you just paid $20,000." (laughing) So he got thrown out of there and went to Seattle and was playing for Seattle. He got knocked down near the boards. He’s slamming in the boards. And the owner there was a crazy guy, he was right down on the bench, leaning over the boards and shouting; "get up King! Get up! Get up!" The players told me this, and knowing him I can absolutely believe it. He looked up at the owner and said, "don’t get your balls in a knot, you ball-headed old bastard." (laughing hysterically) So he didn’t care. He was aiming himself somewhere where he could get started as a businessman. So from Minneapolis then, I went to Cleveland the next year, and I played. I was really proud of that team in Brandon. We won the Western Canadian championship. We came here and we won the championship. I went to Cleveland, my first year in Cleveland won the championship there too. People sometimes ask you, "what were you most proud of." One of the things I’m most proud of is I did play the top junior hockey, and pro hockey, but I played on a lot of winners from high school on up. So anyway, they brought us up to Cleveland. I played there that year. Then, the Jim Handy I was talking about. He was always wanting to give me a chance. He liked me but I wasn’t a very good skater and that was going to hinder me getting a chance but he always was pushing me, he said "this kids a winner, get him." So anyway, he was always trying to help me. And he decided, we had an old General League coach, he was wonderful, his name was Bun Cook. He was one of the, the Cook brothers and Boucha were the greatest line, were one of the greatest lines the Rangers ever had. When I came to Minneapolis, I played for Bill Cook, but I went to Cleveland I played for Bun Cook. Then the little while I was in New York, their center man Frank Boucha, he wasn’t the coach, he was the general manager there. So I ran into that whole family. Anyway so, Handy, he decided that I should go to another team with a coach that he thought would get more out of the young players. He thought Bonham was too easy on em', he was a fine coach. I went and spent one year in St. Louis in the American League. And the next year they brought me back to Cleveland. Then we won the championship in Cleveland. I learned a lesson then, too, Kyle, is that we had very good players in Cleveland, and it made me look back on it later, too, both Minneapolis and Brandon, but not, St. Louis we had better players than anybody, but we had some guys that didn’t give a damn and nobody got along. I learned the value of having guys that got together and were good as a team, and really cared about the team and everything. It was a wonderful lesson for me, it helped me in coaching later and everything. That St. Louis team probably had more talent than anybody, but we didn’t even make the playoffs, and these other teams are winning championships. It was a real lesson for me. So then I went back to Cleveland and then
Handy convinced the Rangers to give me a little bit of a chance.
Everybody thought at that time that Cleveland was a farm club for
the Rangers. They weren’t. But the Rangers were kinda down and
out, and Handy always tried to get his players a chance, and he
had that little Hergesheimer, they took him, they took Johnny
Bauer the goalie, they took a lot of other guys. So he got me the
opportunity to go to the Rangers in that ’53-’54 season. And you
know what was funny about that, the deal they made. All he was
doing was giving me a trial, and then they’d decide at the start
of the next year. They don’t like to announce deals like that. It
doesn’t look good for both teams. So the Rangers had Andy
Bathgate, who may be the greatest Ranger that ever played. He
came out of that same little town I played in, Guelph. He was only
three years or so younger than I, or four and he was a great prospect.
But they tried him a little bit at 19 and it wasn’t working out too well,
so they wanted him to go play in the minor leagues for a while where
he could really develop, which he did. So when I went for Cleveland
out there and they were announcing the deal, and they announced
that, ‘cause I’m going up, you know he’s going down. So what they
announced is that Cleveland is getting Bathgate and $10,000. He’s in the hockey Hall of Fame and everything now. I lost that clipping I had, well shouldn’t say I lost it. The first wife of mine, when she was pissed off with me, she burned a whole bunch of my clippings. My daughter said; "dad, she’s burning all your clippings." "Ahh Shit" I said. What I really lost was a bunch of stuff from my high school days. But I said, and it's true "I deserved much worse," but anyway. So anyway, they got me to play with the little Hergesheimer guy. Wally Hergesheimer, a little player. He had two fingers off his hand, and he was about 5’8” and just a little sniper. When we played in Minneapolis together. He scored 43 goals. And that King, we were on the line together, and he scored 35; I got 17. The next year we went to Cleveland together, Hergie and I. King had gone to the Canadians, and he scored, if it was 43 with Minneapolis, 42 he scored right away in Cleveland. And I got, well one year 17, and one year 14. And then Handy, the Rangers took him and he started scoring right away with the Rangers, and kind of ironic. The guy that had a really good line, Hergesheimer, and a very good proven center in the National League named Paul Ronte. And they had a kid from my hometown named Bert Dickinson, playing in, well that was a great line. And Dickinson got hit in the eye, much like me and just about lost his eye. So they had an opening there and that’s when Handy was able to convince the Rangers to give me a little chance. So I went, and I played till the end of the year, the rest of the year. I didn’t always play, but, and I did all right, nothing great. I got a couple goals. They turned out to be winning goals. So that was good. So now, after we just got nicely started, Hergesheimer broke his leg, so, it made it, it sounds like I am making alibis and I am not, but it did make it difficult, ‘cause I was there for a specific reason. I could look after Hergesheimer. So they kept me there till the end of the year, and I started the next year with them, and in, I thought that Hergesheimer was coming back, but the league was not ready yet. So after about a couple months into the next year, they sent me back to Cleveland. So I went back to Cleveland in about November of ’54, and it was February of ’55, like two and a half months later or something like that, I got hit. I was back, I had played about 30 games or so with them, maybe a few more than that. Do you got the stats there with ya? Q.Yeah, I do. A.That’s when I went to St. Louis that year. I got 24. See that’s the year they took me up. I played 31 games. Then I just played 15 games when I started the next year, ’54-’55, I started with the Rangers and they just left me there for 13 games. They sent me back there. I was starting to score some goals again with them. So I was hoping, I was getting a little nasty. We didn’t have a whole lot of penalty minutes, but I was, so I was back in Cleveland and it was in February, I know the date so clearly. My daughter was born on the 19th of February and it happened on the 23rd, 1955. They say 27th and it was the 23rd. They got that mixed up. ‘Cause it was four days after Kathy was born. So, and then as I say, my great fortune of having John Mariucci to then you know. I had a chance to do that so I went back, the next year I just kinda took it a little easy, and I went back there for that year, and I helped coach the varsity team, because John had gone to Cortina with the Olympics that year. And Marsh Ryman who was a ticket guy then, he eventually became athletic director there. Good little guy. I could tell you a couple stories (laughing) about being there with that team. Marsh, he was a fiery little guy and when we would go on the road to play. He would get in a brawl with somebody, their athletic director, or their coach or something, and he’d always wind up telling them, "you need us a helluva lot more than we need you, and we’re never coming back." So the players are looking. So he did that in about four places. So the players are coming to me and saying; "Glen what the hell are we gonna do, we won’t have any road games next year? "Marsh told all these guys that they need us a helluva lot more than we need you, and we’re never coming back." I said to them, "don’t worry, Mariucci will be back. He’ll smooth all this stuff over." I gotta tell ya a funny story that happened then, too. Players, you know how they, they started calling Marsh, Marsh Ryman, they were calling him "Ruhtracm, hey Ruhtracm" they would say. He says to me," Glen, what the hell do you think they mean by Ruhtracm." I said, "I don’t know, Marsh, I’ll try to find out." So then I think I asked Jack McCarten, who was the goalie of that team. I said "Jack, how come the guys calls Marsh Ruhtracm." He said, "well, you know, with Marsh, he says were never coming back, everywhere where we've gone he told them we’re never coming back." He said, well McArthur, remember McArthur said "I shall return," he said, "so McArthur spelled backward is Ruhtracm." (laughing) So Marsh said, "did ya found out why they call me Ruhtracm." I didn’t have the heart to tell him. It was about 20 years later I told him, "by the way, you know why they called you Ruhtracm." I started to laugh. So and then they said, "what are we gonna do?," "don’t worry," I said when John came back, he got everything straightened out. Marsh was a little pistol. I will tell ya a couple of Mariucci stories though. We would go to. John hated to fly, so his arrangements when they played in Michigan usually, and in those days Michigan and Michigan State were both in their conference, and they would come back on a train through Chicago on Sunday, and then John would just march them into the Chicago Stadium and they’d all be following John. One of the players, I wasn’t there with him was John Hill, because that year I was doing that John was in Europe at the Cortina games. The other players told me that the one time they were going through there and the cabbie got all excited. Maroosh was strutting around and he had all his players coming behind him, and the cabbie said to the other guy, "look, look!" he says, "that’s John Mariucci, he used to fight for the Hawks!" He didn’t even say play! (laughing hysterically) John would tell me stories about looking after, when he was in Chicago, they had what they called a "pony line," and it was two Bentleys, Max Bentley and Doug Bentley, who each have won scoring titles and were great players, and Bill Mosienko, a little guy too. But imagine having this as your claim to fame. He scored in one NHL game, he scored three goals in 21 seconds. But anyway, Mariucci used to tell me how he looked after those guys. And I could believe it. If anybody had to deal with Maroosh, and I could imagine how that was, but I really found out when I was in New York together with the two Bentleys there for awhile, Max and I became pretty good friends. And I said, "Max," Max never talked much, but I’d say "Max, tell me what it was like to play with that big Dago or Mariucci. He said, "Glen, I can’t tell you how he made hockey fun and life worthwhile for us, and they were just kicking the crap out of us" and he said, "once John came, and went once around the league so everybody saw, and saw what he’d do, they left us alone." "I mean they could still take us out or hit but if there was any hit that it might be an attempt at intimidation, he said they had to have a lot of guts, because they had to turn around and get ready for Mariucci, because here he came!" And in
those days, they didn’t give ya penalities for coming off of the bench.
There was a famed fight with Maroosh and Black Jack Stewart you may
have read about. I have to tell ya too, they said "they had to have a lot of
balls if they were gonna because here was John coming" and they said,
"there was never any doubt why he was coming because he left the stink
in his gloves on the bench, and just kicked the shit out of em" He said,
"and they left us alone, He said, except Black Jack Stewart." "Once in a
while, he said, if he got bored or something, he’d slap us around a bit and
get ready for Big John." They got pictures of it. John used to have one up
in his living room. They called it "the bloodiest, and the best fight they’ve
ever seen in the National League." There was blood coming down. And
they battled out on the ice, in the penalty box. People don’t realize, but I
was in involved in these a couple times. You sat in the same penalty
bench and the other guy had a cop in between. So they started that in the
penalty box again, rolled back out on the ice, down the corridor, they
threw them out of the game, then back in the corridor. John was very
tough. Yeah John was, very special.
Q.You maybe answered this as well, but as a youngster, which hockey player or person did you look up to as a role model? You said your coach and then Rocket Richard. A. Yes Rocket Richard, I just loved the Rocket, he was so explosive and sensational. So I was a great Rocket Richard fan. And of course I was in Toronto. I lived in Toronto for a little while. I think we consider our hometown where we go to high school, for me that was Hamilton which is 40 miles from Toronto. We call it "Canada’s Pittsburgh", it’s a steel town. That’s where I went to high school. In those days, there were a couple of leagues, there was, ‘cause we were all Leafs fans. We would go to the Leaf games. There was a Syl Apps who was a really smooth player, and a wonderful athlete. He was a pole vaulter in the Olympics, that was really something. And then there was a Teeder Kennedy that played that was so, that tried so hard. He wasn’t the greatest player in the world, but you never saw anybody work harder. And they had a great fan base at the Gardens, they used to hear em holler, "Come on, Teeder." You could hear it. So I think I kind of adopted those two as my, but as I got closer to the age, myself Rocket Richard as I said for the longest time, I defended saying; Rocket was the greatest player, he won't even admit Gordie Howe was better than he was when it became obviously that he was. Q.You talked a little bit about this too already, that your first Minnesota exposure came in ’49-'50 with the Minneapolis Millers. Can you tell me a little about your time there, and what was it like playing alongside John Mariucci? A.He was just a wonderful educator. He just took the team all over. We had a whole bunch of Canadians and John, and then you know John’s personality, these guys just adored him, they loved him. But he was ridiculing us all the time (laughing). When John was talking, he’d throw in a few big words, and these guys, like I said, all these guys were Canadian and none of them had ever finished high school. I was always a little shit disturber and I think that’s what he liked about me. I'd say "ah John, quit throwing around those sixty cent words, I went to school too." And then John would say, "Oh, all right, I will endeavor to lower myself to your intellectual level, Canadian hockey players and cabdrivers, you’re about on the same level." (laughing) John would take over, we traveled by the bus sometimes, and by the train as well, that was great. We’d all go back in the smoker train, or whatever you call it there, and John would hold court in there. John was our leader of that team. And here’s what happened. In the playoffs we finished second in the league and we had to beat the St. Paul Saints in the first round and they were fourth and we beat them, and now we’re gonna have to play Omaha, which was the Detroit’s farm team. They had that great big rink in Omaha. Detroit by design always put their minor league teams in that great big rink, because they believed skating, and they’re right, skating is singularly the most important skill in hockey. So this is a huge rink. And they had not lost a game in there since before Christmas. So now we gotta play them in the finals, and it was a 3 out of 5 series. We played in the first two games in Omaha, ‘cause they finished higher than us. The next two were in Minneapolis, and a fifth one if necessary would be back to Omaha. So John, what happened was, and we had that little barn of a rink here as opposed to Omaha. Omaha didn’t like playing in here at all. It was very cramped, and so John, what happened was we were getting in the plane and, like I said, we were paid all our salary, we don’t get any more money, we just get it depending on how far you go in the playoffs. We eventually got $500 bucks each for winning the championship. Seemed like a lot of money at that time. But anyway, the coach, Bill Cook, who was just a great, great player in the National League, and a great guy. It seemed strange to me, just a kid of course at 20 years old, the coach says to us, "All right guys, this is really your money now so I want to hear all your opinions on how you’d like to play these guys." Well, they start we could do this or do that and I’m sitting there listening and I know when they get to Maroosh, John is gonna tell us how we’re gonna play. And all our guys are gonna just do what Maroosh says any way. So I’m just listening till they get to Maroosh, and when they get to John, John says, I’ll never forget. He said, "you know, I probably shouldn’t even say this, but I’m gonna say it anyway." This is a meeting at the meal on the day of the game, you know so we’re gonna play them in about five hours or something, and John says; "I probably shouldn’t say this, but we’re probably not gonna win tonight in here anyway." he said, "Nobody has ever won in here since before Christmas, before Christmas." So he said, "suppose for a minute we just concede that we’re gonna lose in here tonight," he said. "Then we can go out and we don’t care how many penalties we take or anything else because we’re gonna lose anyway. We’ll just kick the shit out of em' (laughing) and then, we'll make enough of an impression and we’ll beat them in here tomorrow night. Then we know when we go back to Minneapolis we can beat them twice in our little barn back there." And that’s exactly what happened. We went out there, we lost, I think it was, I’m gonna have to look it up somewhere, but it was 7-1 or 8-1, you never saw the guys go out and celebrate after the game because mostly John was hitting them, but a lot of us where trying with some fights and everything. We just went after them and every time they turned around, we were flying at them. The puck was very secondary. They beat us very one-sidedly, but sure enough we went back to Minneapolis and won both games there and eliminated them three straight. So we won that championship. Then the guy moved the team, Lyle Wright. He ran that rink for the Ice Capades that were in there. Q.At the old Minneapolis rink correct? A.Yeah. Frank King, the soon-to-be millionaire, where he picked out an apartment for us to live in, it was right near there, we didn’t need a car or ahh. Q.Just walk to the rink. A.Yeah we did, It was great with Frank, (laughing) well anyway. I had a lesson on how to save money. Unfortunately it didn’t take with me. Q.Who were some of your favorite teammates out of all your years playing? A.I’m glad you asked me that. I just met with one of them who I’ve known 59 or 60 years. His name was Reg Abbott. He was a little guy. Bright, bright guy. That was a funny thing, Kyle, that happened with me. That year in Guelph that I mentioned, that little junior team that was just starting up, and they put all of us in one big boarding house. Some couple where they were gonna make money, they had all 20 of us, well it wasn't 20 I think we only had 17 on that team. But we all, on that team you know, nobody was from that little town as well. I was, I lived as close as anybody, 28 miles away or something my family. But the reason I tell you that is we all, they’re a ways from home. They’d all promise their mothers we’d go to school, well. Once we got going, by Christmas time, Kyle, I think to the best of my recollection, there was only two guys still going to school, the spare goalie and me. I was still going to school, I was still taking some grade 13 ‘cause that would transfer to college eventually. So anyway, but the next year we came to Brandon, and when I looked at it when we were up there again. Cause some of them are my favorite people, we had, from that team in Brandon, what a change. One guy was a doctor, three of them are lawyers I think, a couple more got into physical education, and one more of my linemates became a principal. I had two linemates that were from Brandon, brilliant players. The one I think was the best player from Guelph, he became a lawyer but he had a heart ailment and he died tragically at 27 or something, so he never. But the other one had become a principal of a school, he's been a physical education teacher, we had all those kind of guys, and so when we all went back to this reunion and this guy, I’m gonna tell you about him, he’s one of my favorite guys of all time playing with, Reg Abbott, and he was a little, kinda quiet guy, good hockey player. He got picked up by the Montreal Canadians and played one year in their farm system but he was probably too small and not strong, but smart and good enough. And he got involved after in, with one of the big insurance companies in all of Canada, Great Life or something up there. And he rose over his career to be about third in the whole country. But he was the greatest little guy. He wouldn’t swear. We had, we were a raucous bunch of guys, we’d sing dirty songs all the way down on the bus. But, and he wouldn’t you know, we’d all sneak off and have a beer even though we weren’t suppose to and some of them smoked; I didn’t do that. He wouldn’t have anything. I think he was into Christian Science too. I think we had to be worried about if he got cut and something, they didn't want to have doctors working on him, but anyway. He eventually became, and he didn’t bother the girls or anything at all. And later in life, I ran into him, and he wound up and married one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life. I said; "Reggie, you little shit." But we were very special friends. I’ve kept in touch with him a little bit. When I was scouting for the North Stars full time he settled in Victoria British Columbia. He retired at 55, living in Victoria. Now he’s 77 or something so he's had a wonderful, but he was just one of the real, real, genuinely nice guys. When I talk about players I got know more when I was coaching, my favorite player of all time is Mike
when I came in here, Bruce Telander, I don't know if you know Bruce he's a
big booster for Gopher hockey and they were alumni guys. John used to turn
a lot of the recruiting over to him, after he got Louie, there for awhile Louie
was doing it. But they contacted me, Bruce and Louie, and they wanted some
help in scouting a kid way up in Canada. Turned out to be Kenny Dryden,
they wanted me to scout. Anyway, I was gonna say, when I came here in ’66 to
coach the team and Telander and these guys they had a summer league going
on and things weren’t going great with the team now but they were telling
me, "don’t worry, Glen we have" Telander was just telling me the other day
again that he’d been very involved in bantam hockey and he'd seen Antonovich
playing for the bantam championship in the state a couple years in a row. And
he was, I’m not trying to make a good story. He was about 5’6”. He had big
glasses on. He was always standing short and his breezers came down to his
skates. He weighed about 125 pounds when he was a sophomore at Greenway, he played for Coleraine. They were telling me, they said, "we’re a little low on talent, but don’t worry, Glen", they said, "our savior is coming." This little guy from Greenway. I saw him when he first came. I said, "Wait a minute, you’re telling me that's our salvation, our savior!" Then I saw him play and he’s just a great kid. He didn’t like school much. He was a smart guy, but he didn’t like school, and the way things worked out, the year I left he had gotten hurt a little bit. Ken Yackel was coaching the team for the rest of that year. I left in November because when I got hired it was November of ’71 and we had to start playing October of ’72, so I just had 11 months. And I couldn’t stay and coach the Gophers if I had to run all over the country finding players. So, but anyway, Antonovich. Well between he and, we had a great Canadian goalkeeper named Murray McLachlan. Between Antonovich and McLachlan. Well Blais came the same way as them. You know who else we nearly got, well we got that year, well then he got some girl pregnant or something and he had to go up to Winnipeg and play to make some money, was Henry Boucha. We had Antonovich, and Blais, and Boucha in that one year’s recruiting. We were on our way to ah. And John had made it clear that he wanted us to concentrate on Minnesota kids. But I didn’t have any problem doing that because we were, there was such a good crop coming along. And at that point we took McLachlan. When I was unable to recruit Dryden, I say I was unable because he’d already committed to Cornell, was he something. But McLachlan came right after him. What was funny, not funny, tragic for me was the year they tried to get me to recruit Dryden, I did my best but I couldn't he was already committed.
Q.That would have been something to have Dryden playing for the Gophers A.Yeah, yeah. And he went to Cornell. That year, my first year of coaching here was the last year that freshman were ineligible. And so, I tried, but they tried to get me to recruit him a year earlier. If I had been successful with him, he would have been our goalkeeper that first year I came and we had a good team. We had Gambucci's, and Paradise's, Klatt, and we had a whole lot of good players. And we had nobody in goal, that’s the years that I ah, the years that I tried for a while changing the goalie every time they scored, which was a disaster. (laughing) A last resort I would say. But anyway, when we didn’t get Dryden, then the next year we got Murray McLachlan. But he, if Dryden was a year earlier, he would have been eligible for me to play. That first year we had a really good team and we finished dead last because we didn’t have a goalkeeper. So I had two things tormenting me. One that I hadn’t successfully recruited Dryden, and two, McLachlan was sitting on our freshman team and practicing with us everyday. When he came, he won our most valuable player all three years that he was here. He won the most valuable player in the WCHA two years in a row. He was a phenomenal goalkeeper. He's a favorite of mine all time too. Antonovich was also. An awful lot of really good guys. Q.Antonovich went on to play for you with the Fighting Saints too. A.Yes, with the Saints he was always a favorite of mine. With the North Stars, the guys that were really my favorites were Bobby Smith, and Curt Giles, I just ran into him the other day there, classy, classy guys, well let me think for just a minute.... Q.Of all the players that played under you that are now considered
historical Minnesota hockey players...
A.Al MacAdam was a great guy... Q.Neal Broten came during your time A.Yeah, Neal Broten, yeah. I hadn’t realized just how spectacularly he
arrived on the scene. His first full season he got 98 points. Amazing!
Q.With Neal, his first games came after the Gophers season finished
A.He came at the end of the year, of the year that we went to the
Stanley Cup finals and he only played two games at the end of the year and then he played through the playoffs, and he did all right but nothing that extraordinary. But the next year, in ’81-’82, he got 98 his first full season. You see, we had done sensibly with him. We got him at first, and we let him go play in the Olympics and then we even let him go back to play another year with the Gophers. Where as when we got poor Lawton, we jammed him right in there. Not only did we jam him in there right out of high school, but I think the biggest mistake we made was we gave him #98, which sat just a little bit below Gretzky. ‘Cause he was a pretty good player, but he couldn't live up to the, well he wasn’t gonna be a Broten. I’m trying to think of some of the other guys. Gilles Meloche was a great classy guy, and was our goalkeeper and ah. You know who was a favorite of mine, and we didn’t have him that long was a captain for us when I was coaching named Paul Shmyr. He had been in the WHA, and he came over to the Stars, and he was a funny guy. You know what he did, Kyle, and really good captains could help their coach out with this, he took away a lot of the petty little things you have to deal with like fines for stepping on the ice 5 minutes too late, and you gotta do something about it. But it’s much better if they police themselves. And if you get a captain like him he did a, and that was fun and they would fine each other, and he would, he held court cases with them so they could plead their case, and then they’d keep that money for a party at the end of the year, but it takes care of a whole lot. The way he used to do it was, he put his heart and soul into it. He called himself; "Judge Roy Bean" and then he went and got a robe and a gray wig and he conducted trials with the players, and the players would all sit and listen and they were the jury. They’d listen to the guy’s plea and then they’d either get a thumbs up or thumbs down. They always gave thumbs down, I don't care what. (laughing) But he was so much fun doing it and everybody, it was great. So what he did once though, he put the coaches on trial because we had screwed up a practice thing in Vancouver. We were out there on a trip and it really got mixed up, we went to the wrong rink and every other damn thing. So he put us on trial. Murray Oliver was my assistant, and J.P. was too, but my memory is we only had Murray and I up in front of em' because he was funny, too. The first thing he said was, "which one of you is gonna do the talking?" And Murray Oliver said, "are you kidding?" But anyway. We had screwed up but we thought up a real good defense because it just happened that we were on a bit of a losing streak then, although that was a very good year for us that year, but we were on a bit of a losing streak, and we hadn’t won in three or four games and we were on the road up there. What we really wanted to do was give them a day off, but you don’t like to give them a day off when they’d screwed up, they’d played poorly the night before. So, we hadn’t done this, really we had screwed up, but it seemed like a good chance to make a decent case. So our plea was that we really didn’t screw up at all; we did this on purpose because you guys needed a day like that. By the time we got around to the trial, it had been vindicated because after that we had won three or four in a row after that. So having your day off was good for em'. Believe me, sometimes, Kyle, it’s just good to not have to go to the rink, put all that shit on, it gets old with the year. So giving them a day off was the best idea, but we didn’t feel that we could do it with the loss again. We can’t reward them for that. So I made that case. I said, "we knew that you guys needed a day off more than anything else but we couldn’t give it to you, because, you know, you’d been playing so poorly. So we came up with this idea and we told the rink guy to get all screwed up. We really weren’t screwed up at all. This way we were able to give you the day off, and look at the evidence here; now we’ve won three in a row," or some damn thing. So Shmyr, he said "well pretty decent case." Then he turned to the
players; "up or down?" Well they are all down, so he fined me $25 bucks
or so. I remember I made the check out to: Judge Roy Bean, for $25 bucks.
(laughing) I said "try to cash that!" But he was a great guy. He was a lot of
fun. There’s been an awful lot of good guys. Craig Hartsburg has a special
place for me. He was the son of a buddy of mine that we had played on a
midget baseball champion of Ontario and we played on a junior B hockey
team together, his Dad, so we were buddies. So when we wind up with
Craig I had a special, and boy he was... Of all of the bad breaks the North
Stars got in some of that was when Herbie was coming in to coach. We had
so many injuries, Hartsburg was one of em', he played about eight years but
several of those he was not quite 100%. Had he been able to play his whole career he would have been like Bourque, and Orr and some of them, he was a very elite player. Boy was he good.
Q.Lots of injuries the North Stars had during that time. Who was the best coach you played for? A.Best coach I ever met in my life was Dick Siebert, the baseball coach. I just want to get this in. It was my great fortune when I came here to coach the Gophers in ’66, I was 37 years old. And what had happened, really when I think about this, it was a tragedy for me to lose the eye but it got me in coaching ten years earlier than I would have. By the time those ten years were up I’d established myself as a successful coach where I had been and I got the job here. But when I came, you know they have those big luxury offices and everything now, you know Cook Hall, right at the end where the stadium was, that’s where all of our offices were. And when they hired me, I came in, they put me in an office with Dick Siebert, and Les Bolson and what a wonderful break for me. Dick Siebert was the best coach of anything I’ve ever known in my life. He was just an absolute genius. And mostly was a delightful little guy. But playing myself, I would say probably the best coach I ever had was the guy in Cleveland named Bun Cook. He was a gentleman and kinda quiet, but very, very bright and had a great rapport with his players. There’s something about him that you just, of course he’d been a great player, but he was smart about what he was doing, and he treated people with respect and yet he was... One thing that happened that really impressed me was we had a great goalie named Johnny Bower in Cleveland who later, this is a wonderful story. He never got into the National Hockey League till he was about 33 years old when his career should have been over. You gotta remember in those days when we were playing, imagine this. Only one goalie, you didn’t even have a backup goalie dressed for the game, no mask. But this guy was a sensational goalie in the American League, but there were only six NHL teams and you couldn’t, you know, it was very hard to get a chance. And I think he was getting discouraged because he was leading the American League in goal. Nobody would every give him a chance. But as a result of that, I’m sure he was very aware of the statistics and everything. One time we were playing a game, I think it was in Buffalo in the American League, and we were winning about 5-1 late in the game, and we were relaxing a little bit, just let them go at us, and they whacked in two or three goals, might have been three but I think only two. Bang, bang at the end of the game. And Johnny Bauer, who was a great guy, he came in the dressing room and was pissed off because he was always aware of his goals against, so now it should be one goal and his goals against will be 2.2 or something. And now all of a sudden it was three goals, and so he came and he starting throwing his equipment around and everything. So I watched Bun handle that. First of all he gave us Shit. I remember him telling us, he said, "you guys are aware of your statistics, you want to have another point or another, I hear you, I watch you go around and try lobby for another..." He said, "now here’s this guy whose giving everything every night, and you don't give a shit about his!" "Ah what the hell we still won, what the hell are you upset about we still won!" we said, but he still gave us a lecture about that. Then he called him aside and told him; "not to do that any more." And I remember Johnny, Johnny was was a good guy. He told me that Bud told him then; "that in goalkeeping, you always remember, you better be the player’s best friend." But he was just, he had a real good way with everybody, a good rapport. Q.In your opinion, what were some of the best hockey and coaching highlights of your career? A.Well, like I said, I didn’t really till I think back, I am really proud of my playing career was when I got the end of junior and into the pros, we were winning all the time. It makes you feel good ‘cause you were part of it, you know so that was probably the highlight. It helps me, I would like to think, and I do, that having an offer I would have been given the chance to play. I've had people tell me that and I appreciate it. So the fact that I was part of winning teams is the biggest part for me. I mean I didn’t lead the league in scoring, but I made a contribution. Bill Cook, that coached us here, I kept the clipping where I separated my shoulder that year and I was out for about 14 games or so. And the game I come back, I kept the clipping for that, he said he "only intended to use me a little bit" but I ended up scoring the tying goal and set up the winning goal. But what he said, he said, and this was my first year, I was 20 years old. But the phrase he used, he said, "this kid’s a winner." He said, "I was only gonna put him in for a bit, but he came back in there." And I’d been out for six weeks or so. Q.Your fondest memories of hockey and coaching would be....? A.I was very, very lucky that I did play on a bunch of winning, and we had things like with Maroosh and we won that championship and we won the next year in Cleveland. We had won in Brandon in the Western Canadian, we had lost in the Memorial Cup finals. That was a real disappointment. It was a four out of seven series. We were playing Montreal from down east. In those days, the Memorial Cup, the junior championship, just had a winner in the East and a winner in the West. Now they got a tournament. I guess they gotta do it for money. The whole country got behind this and it was a four out of seven series. But they let it go eight games. The reason was we had a tie, and the rink was full every night so they played another game. We were winning the last game, we were winning with ten minutes to go by two goals, I think, and they came back and beat us then. That was a great experience, but it was a great disappointment, too. And the coaching, obviously the Stanley Cup was the greatest memory I have of that. I also ahh, we lost with the Gophers in the National Championship in ’71 in
Syracuse. Gives you an idea, we were in Syracuse, Herbie Brooks was my
assistant coach and the Athletic Director said "there was not enough money
for him to go on the trip," for poor Herbie to go. As soon as he told me that,
I went to this Bruce Telander and these guys that I know, who they got the
money in a second, but if you know Herbie, the guy, unfortunately the
Athletic Director I told Herbie he wasn't going so he wouldn't go. Even
though we had got it straightened around, I could understand. But that’s
Herbie. I have always said about Herbie; "I have never seen anybody in my
life who so believes in what he believes that he doesn’t care", I mean I’ve watched him walk away from jobs, like in New Jersey when they had that one Lemieux that everybody hates and Herbie said; "despicable guy!, affecting all the other players!" He told me, "I won’t coach with that guy on the team."Give up", and they told him; "well you can't tell us..." Herbie, he was an amazing guy. What he believed in, boy he didn’t care what it cost him.
Q.Then in 1982 you got to coach the NHL All-Star team what was that like? A.Yeah, that was a great in '82. We got to meet the President! It was an honor to be in Washington. Q.And then most recently, in 2006, you and Reed Larson were announced together as Lester Patrick award winners. A.Now, I gotta tell ya. That fellowship I am in, where you don't drink at all, they talk about humility is at the basis of every one of these steps in the fellowship of AA. So I tell my buddies, you wanna get some humility, here's what happened. We’re going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Reed and I and, I’m maybe missing one guy. But then we were supposed to go in in 2005. That was the lock-out year and it got pushed back, and pushed back, and now it's pushed into 2006. So then, and now it's still getting late in 2006. So at the last moment, and it's going to be in Detroit, right in the rink front and center, and it's wonderful but at the last minute they decide that; "well we better induct a couple of more guys, to make sure that we don’t get behind again, so they add two guys to Reed and I. They pick Yzerman, and Marcel Dionne. So now we’re, that's the company we are with there, not only that we go there and they have a big question and answer thing, and well they decide rather than have each of us come up and answer all their questions. Well of course once Yzerman goes in there, and Dionne too, and of course Reed Larson played most of his career in Detroit, and oh yes, Red Berenson was the other too, and of course he is coaching in Michigan. Q.So there is obviously a lot of Detroit and Michigan affiliation in the award ceremony that year. A.Yes, and so now the way to handle these interviews is rather than an
interview one of us after the other, they got about 300 press, well actually
not 300, 100 or more press people all around there. So they said, "instead of
doing this what we're gonna do is, we’re putting you in this room at a table or
a place over there, and the people coming in, they can just go and talk to
whom ever they want to talk to." So they open the door, they’re rushing in,
heading for Yzerman. (laughing) The ones that can't get Yzerman go right to
Dionne, or right to Reed. I'm standing over there all by myself (laughing).
There was one guy from, like you are, for college hockey. He came over and
started a conversation, I started to laugh. If you wanted a little humility, well
I found it. And that was good for me. That Yzerman, what a wonderful man.
Then the coach of the Red Wings came over and talked to me, which was very
nice. We had met somewhere for a while, and talked, and he’s a good guy,
too. When we got into, that was a wonderful experience. So many of them,
it’s almost embarrassing. You know they got me an honorary “M” because of
course I didn’t play for the Gophers. I had already played hockey elsewhere. So they put me in the "M" Club and then within a year they put me in the Hall of Fame. And then when we went up to Detroit, and the Lester Patrick Award that we were talking about. And then I got the call from the people in Manitoba that our team was, my friends are saying; "what the hell!?" I tell them; "what really happened is that some of them really took a look and discovered how old I was and they thought they better do something for me, and they better do it before I go to the big rink in the sky!" (laughing)
Q.What do you think has been the biggest change in hockey since you played compared to today's modern-day hockey? A.What I think is the biggest, and it's too bad but I can’t blame anybody. The game is coached now so much by defensive. "Don’t give up any goals and we’ll have a chance to get somewhere," I mean I listen to them talk and I give them all kinds of credit for what they do. You know, they’re always talking about "sticks in the lane" and they spend so much of their time on preventing the other team. We spent all our time figuring out how to score, and I think as a result, the game was much more wide open. We scored almost twice as many goals during the time I was coaching as they do now. And I think that’s too bad, but, you know, what are you gonna do. You got 30 teams now instead of 17. There are so many teams that don’t have the really high end players, and they have good coaches, but they figure out, we gotta stay close, and the biggest thing for a coach is preventing goals. So I think that’s the biggest change overall. I think it’s too bad, but I don’t have an answer what to do about it. If I was coaching now, thank goodness I'm not, I mean they spend so much time in front of the... and they got so much video stuff and way more coaches involved. All the video we really looked at in those days was the, Kyle, was the ahh, we’d look at the way their power play was set up, and the way they killed penalities. I usually had my assistant coaches do that with em' because I didn't believe you are always harpin' at em about something, and it's one thing in head-coaching don't wear them out listening to you all the time, and to let them see that your assistant coaches are important too. It’s one of the things I learned about coaching more than anything else was make sure everybody is important in what you’re doing. And it isn't enough just to tell them their important, but you gotta show them that you believe by giving them something to do. And we'd do that with our guys, like this line came out after every penalty, or you started every period, or were just penalty killers or whatever, But you can’t tell them you think they’re important and never let them play. Q.Following the incident in February of 1955, did you find it difficult to retire or did it make that much easier to walk away? A.No, no, it didn't make it. I was, I think back and I know I was trying to be brave. Everybody said; "he’s so brave about it." But was I devastated. It's all I’d ever done in my life, I didn’t have any interests in life other than sports. I had all kinds of sports, and was so lucky to not only have all kinds of 'em but be good at most of them. So this was a great, such a part of my life that it was awfully hard. I don’t know what I would have done, to be very honest with you, Kyle, if Maroosh hadn’t come, if I had been left out there floundering and not knowing how to stay in sports. So, it was made tolerable by the fact that I could get into teaching and coaching right away. But it was still, what I did when I went home for a while, I got a mask kind of thing, you know I was back teaching school. Well then I went back to coach the junior team in St. Katherine's and had Stan Makita, and Hull had been on the team at the start when I coached there. Then I coached a year at... and Eddie Shore of all people came and hired me of all people to coach, and I look back I was about 28 years old and I was coaching his team in Springfield in the American League and Don Cherry was on my team. So, I was into the coaching, you know. But then I decided that my daughter was getting where I was trying to get some stability for her. So I went up to my hometown in Canada and started to teach and I thought my career was gonna be in physical education. And I go up and I'll get a, I'll start teaching, and I'll go and get a master’s degree in physical education if I'm gonna be in education. So that’s when I started going to Ohio State every summer. I didn’t want to come all the way back to Minnesota where I was living in Hamilton Northwest. I thought better, it would be better to go an get another degree from another school. So I was going to Ohio State every summer and that’s where the guy, one of the professors took a liking to me that was very involved in hockey and they had like a club team. And they made it a varsity and I came down and coached one year there in ’65. That’s how I wound up doing that at Ohio State. And then I was only there the one year and Maroosh was leaving the Gophers to go with the North Stars a year early, so he could help give them their start in ’67. So he quit and I came in ’66. I laugh about that, Kyle, you know now you read about they have a search committee to look for a new coach and everything and they take months. Maroosh says, "Sonmor’s coming here, nobody else." (laughing) Q.That’s a great story of how you became the head coach at the U, it sounds like Mariucci came to your aide again as he did when you were in the hospital A.Yeah, he was in, well I don't want to get into too much talk of that. But he was there for me when I was having trouble with the alcohol. He and Louie. Louie, I mean if I can have Louie for a friend and for someone to stand by me for what happened to me then, I mean because I had it written right in my contract "if I drank again I could be fired with no money, and no.." ahh, well read it in Louie's book he talks a little about that. Q.With the North Stars correct? A.Yeah, when he hired me, I was in Birmingham
after the Saints had gone out of business, I got hired
in Birmingham and I was coaching there. Well, as
soon as Louie got the job, he called me and asked "if
I would come back here." But anyway, Louie told me
after that some of the people on the board of directors
there said, "no you can’t hire him, first of all he was in
that WHA that was trying to ruin our league, and
secondly, we think he has a problem with alcohol." So
Louie, he got kinda sheepish when he was talking to
me. He said, "Glen.." 'cause when he was my assistant with the... I mean I was never a big drinker, I was one of those free kind of guys but, he said; "Lou, I’ve never seen you drunk, but some of the people here think you might have a problem, would you mind going in for an assessment." So I went in and I guess I knew I had a problem, and I hadn't done anything to... You know, I could see that the WHA was not going to last. And it was a dream to be in the NHL. I thought I had footed it when I went to work for the WHA, because they were saying; "if anybody goes in that league we'll never let em'..." But anyhow, if it hadn’t been for Louie, I wouldn’t have gotten it. So from the very beginning it was understood that I wouldn't drink. Well I was sneakin around, and I went to out-patient, and then I went to in-patient in 1980, after we had the great playoffs with Montreal. And my behavior was bad enough then that they, they sent me off then. I said bad enough, they just, you know, I thought I was foolin' them you know sneakin around. And so they sent me off then, and I thought it was gonna work, I was really aligned, but I really hadn't... surrendered to realize that, I always thought that well I will know more about it now I will be able to do... I just wanted to be able to drink when everybody else did! But anyway, and then, when that last horrible episode happened in Pittsburgh in January of ’83, ahh, it was right in my... to be fired with no... and Louie wouldn't do that he had, he had to remove me, and sent me off to treatment again, but he stood behind me and this time it finally, and it will be 25 years in January so.
Q.Good for you Glen, that must be prouder than anything else you have accomplished in your life. A.Yes, and that’s what I’m saying and Louie and John they were my guardian angels. John was always trying to help me, and Louie was you know, Louie was a great friend. Q.You and Lou are still great friends today? A.We are. Q.Yeah, that’s great. What person or persons had the biggest impact on your career? A.Well, I think that high school basketball coach had more influence on me than anybody. He was my high school basketball coach. He coached me in a junior baseball thing, and then we were in a pretty good league where guys came up from the States and everything, and I was pitching in that. I was a cocky little bugger and he straightened me out with that, too. I won’t run through the whole thing, but he called me on it. I gotta tell ya this story, because it’s one of the joys of my life that it happened. He threw me off the team for my actions, and you’ve seen enough of me to know I talk too much, and I was a cocky little bugger. I was about 17 then, and most of the guys were 20, and I was causing disruptions, you know just being a bit of a clown. So he threw me off the team and I was convinced that they couldn’t get along without me ‘cause I was doing pretty well pitching. So when he dressed me down in front of the other players, I stormed out. I was gonna pitch that night and my Mom and Dad were there at the game, and my Dad didn't get there. My dad had the alcohol problem, too, so he was in and out of our lives some. So I, when he called me out, I wanted to quit right on the spot. I won, so I pitched the game and then I came back and threw my equipment to him and quit. I stomped off and waited for him to call me in a few days because I was sure they couldn't get along without me. And he never did. So I waited maybe ten days or maybe two weeks. But anyhow, finally I went back to him and said, "George, you know, can I come back to the team." and he said; "yeah you can, but you have to apologize to all of your teammates for your behavior and you gotta stop..." And he did that, and helped me out, he was also the one that told me the other stuff. So when I was coaching the North Stars, George was, he was an accountant, I looked him up in Toronto, I went and sat down with him and I thanked him for the things he had done for me. He was, as a matter of fact he said; "Ahh, you didn’t do that Glen." and I said, "Oh, yeah I did, George." He was just a great guy. And then, I'm gonna tell you what happened. He was a great guy, but he was a real smart guy and he was doing something, I think, running the Ice Capades. He fell in love with one of the skaters or something and they had a very brief marriage and that was the end of it. I tried to ask him about that once, but he didn’t want to talk about it. So he was a loner all his life, and about half a dozen or ten years ago, I was going up to Toronto, well no, yeah it must be about because my mom was still living then. I went up to visit and I went through my hometown. I drive up to Toronto. I don’t normally go through Hamilton; for some reason I did. And I had picked up a paper and here was in the obituary, it was George Ferris. And I continued over to Toronto and I talked to my sister. I said, "you know, I don’t know if that’s the George that I know." Well she, and she knows how to do things, but she called right away to the funeral home and said; "we’re wondering if this is the George Ferris." They said, "well we don’t really know but I think maybe it is because he’s got some baseballs and some other sports stuff in his coffin." So I drove back to Hamilton to go to the funeral, and it was sad to see there was only very, very few people there. And the little minister, an old oriental lady, and when they were done they had the service, they said, "does anybody want to say anything about George?" And, it kinda really shakes me up a little thinking about it, (fighting back tears) but nobody said anything, so of course I did. I said, "yeah I want to say." So I just told some of the things he’d done for me, you know. I really felt good after because an aunt wrote me the nicest letter later, she said, she got my card, or something and and she said, "you know, we really didn’t know a whole lot about what George was doing a lot of the time." But he was a wonderful man. He gave us, and this will tell you a lot about...and this has got to be over 60 years ago. We had a, on our door of our basketball practice, you know where we dressed, we were practicing, he had about five of us come early in the morning and just shoot baskets and then we had a regular practice at 5:30 in the afternoon when he was done with his work. But on our door, we had... shows you the impression he had on me, I could recite a whole bunch of it, it said, We the members of the Delta Collegiate Basketball Team 1944-45, or whatever it was ’45-’56, prompted by the realization for the betterment of the student and athlete alike, hereby voluntarily agree to impose the following restrictions upon ourselves until one minute after the close of the 1945-46 basketball season. And the rules that we had you couldn’t make a date with, or otherwise encourage the attention of a member of the opposite sex, we couldn’t check the score board after the final to find out how many points we had, and we couldn’t, well let's see what was it, well we couldn't drink or smoke of course. What was the other, I laugh at myself now, we couldn’t make a date with, or encourage a member of the opposite sex!.... I mean we had all those rules and we did them all. Here we were looking up at all of them (laughing). And he was, he left us in the game way too long, we scored 100 points in high school basketball and he wouldn’t take us out of the game, and he said he’d get himself fired for this, he said, "well we’re gonna have tough teams in the playoffs and we gotta, these guys gotta get used to playing." But he was a wonderful character. Q.It sounds like on a whim you just happened to drive through Hamilton, it's almost like you were meant to be there for his funeral to say a few words. A.Yeah, yeah, that's what I thought after. I said "somebody needed to say something about him, and those, it wasn't the members of the family." He was a loner kind of guy. You know I knew he used to do with his, after our basketball games, before he made the rule about no dates, one year he let them have dates. If you didn’t go out on a date, we came with him, he would take us out for a little bite to eat after and we would be able to spend one penny for... We couldn’t know how many points we got, but we did know how many the team got. If we got 85 points, and we did a lot, but in those days that was, you could get a really good meal for 85. So there was only a couple of us out. We went with George after every game. The second year though, he put the rule in we couldn’t, (laughing) until one minute after the close. That’s a beauty. He was a real influence in my life. Q.When you look back on your career what has enriched you personally? And how else have you kept involved in hockey? A.My whole relationship with the people you meet and everything. And of course, I’ve always been a great believer in sports does a lot of things for you. I used to fight and argue with my teaching companions. They say, "yeah, you guys are always talking about the values of sports." How the hell do you know? So, I'm the kind, when I get challenged by that, I go and look up stuff and I was doing some graduate courses in physical education so I find some of those. And I found a poem, you know when I talk with school kids and everything and you know, I’d say to them, "how do I know it does this?" Well, because I see it happen every day! I don't know where I found this wonderful poem but I am going to recite it for ya, it says:
"How do you act when the pressure’s on and the chance for victory is almost gone. And fortune’s smile has refused to shine. When the ball’s on your five-yard line. How do you act when the going's tough. Do your spirits lag when things get rough. Or is there in you a flame that glows. Brighter as fiercer the battle grows. How hard, how long will you fight the foe. That’s what the world will want to know. If you wish for success, then tell me so. How do you act when the pressure’s on."
I recite that sometimes, when I go to speak you know to a student body with different athletics, and people. The other one, while I am doing poem's, and I do this on the air once every year but, 'cause I’m a terrible homer as you probably heard, and I make no qualm about it and I’m always getting on the referee and I know it’s silly, because you only do it when you are losing, but somewhere in doing that I found this poem, too. Doing that research for some physical education courses and with that
said, but. As a coach and referee, we’re partners together for the good of the kids.
My friend Harry Neale, I don’t know if you know about Harry. Harry coached with
us. He’s a major broadcaster. He’s like John Madden in hockey up in Canada. A
wonderful guy. And Harry's telling me, when he heard that referee poem he said,
"oh, God Glen, don’t let anybody hear ya say that!" (laughing) "You'll go back to
coaching," he said. And that did happen though. The referee poem I say once a
year on the Gopher broadcast, well I apologize for getting too hard on the
referees, ‘cause I know what a terrible job. Well I know I’m not sensible about it
at all. The referee poem goes:
"I think that I shall never see a satisfactory referee,
one who calls them as they are, and not as I would have by far. A gent who bends
not either way but lets the kids decide the play. Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can referee."
I told one of the referee’s that when I was out of coaching for a while. Helleman I think, and he said "Gee Glen that's great" He said, " I am going to a referee’s convention or some damn, write that out for
me?" So I wrote it out for em'. Well what do you think happened. Louie wanted to fire that guy that who had replaced me, after I was out scouting he wanted to fire him, Mahoney. And he called me back to coach, the first game there was that Helleman there. (laughing) And it only took about until the 5 minute mark, and he said "yeah I was up on my foot on you!" "you lying son of a bitch.." (laughing) He kinda said as he went by "well what about the poem?"; "ahh fuck the poem" I said. The players are all lookin around, wondering what the...(laughing hysterically)
Q.Lastly, We all know you and Wally do the Gophers radio broadcast together, and you scout currently for the Minnesota Wild, but how else have you kept involved in hockey? A.Yeah, that's what it is, I’m lucky now you know. But there are no many good kids in the high school that you know they had that elite league for awhile. They had just so many good, good high school kids, and I just gotta do the high school, which is good, I don’t want to be driving to Omaha. I was doing that in the USHL and then the Gophers. So I see a ton of high school games, and Gophers. And believe me, I watch all those Wild games too. But by the time, we got one more weekend here, and I know exactly who I have to look at during the year, there is some good ones again. So I have kept, and that's what I should do is get the, and I can only watch so many, you know I get that Versus channel, and there is a couple. Because I love to watch Paul Martin and those guys who played here for the Gophers, but. I go down and watch the Gophers practice two or three times a week. You know, I got lot's of time, I don’t have a real job. I’m very lucky. Sports have been a big part of my life for how long now. Q.I suppose you drive and fly with the team when they go on the road then? A.We fly sometimes. There’s only a few that we have to fly to. Now I think this year there's only about four. We’ve done one to Colorado College, we go to Denver later. We’re going to Michigan at Thanksgiving time and we have one to Alaska. And then all the others, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Mankato, Duluth. We drive. Wally drives and I go with him, so that’s fun. We don’t go on a bus. Lucia is a little different. Wooger used to let us ride the bus. Lucia is, and he is a great man, and coach. I don't mean this as a criticism but he likes his close knit, and a small unit together as he can so we don't go on the team bus. Wally is a joy too to ride with. Of all the people I have met, his Dad, and now Wally, what a wonderful, wonderful man. Q.Well Glen, I really again would like to thank you for sitting down with me for a few hours here to share some of your treasured stories. It was great! Thank you so much again, I really appreciate it. A.You are most welcome and if something comes up and you need an opinion on or something, don’t hesitate to call me. Have a good evening Kyle.