When I told my father about the scout, he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe a pro team was interested in a 16-year-old. “You’ve never lied to me before,” he said. “Pa,” I told him, “I’m not lying now.”
For the first few years, Harold Ballard didn’t know my name. He called me ‘Bob.’ But I liked him well enough. I once told him, “I don’t care what you pay me, as long as you sign my cheques,” and he thought that was pretty hilarious, so we got along well.
My brother was a goaltender. He’s three years older than I am. I just decided that if Len could play goal, I could play goal better than him.
My dad built me a rink when I was five years old in the backyard in Sarnia. It was only a small rink but I played all the time. In those days, the winters in Southern Ontario gave you ice from early December all the way to March.
It was a different league that is for sure. It was much more physical than the NHL. Glen Sonmor used to tell me, “If we don’t stop this fighting, we are going to have to build bigger rinks.” We had a very aggressive team and that was not by accident.