As told to: Dave BidiniPlaying around the world with Team USA was an incredible experience. Five years after turning down the Hawks, I signed a personal services contract with the North Stars. When I got to the team, Wren Blair looked at me on the end of the bench and told me, “You’re everything I hate: a college guy, a Canadian who became an American, and a defenceman who rushes the puck.” In my first game I played all five positions. I flew into St. Louis on a Saturday afternoon and played against Dickie Moore and Doug Harvey, but one of the reasons I wasn’t afraid was because I was already 27 years old and had a college degree in my back pocket. I had a fall back no matter how my career played out and I think it bothered Blair. Besides, my personal services contract meant that I did get paid regardless because I did other things, and everything, for the team: selling advertising for programs, radio and tv broadcasting, coaching local junior teams. There was an old school still around at the time but I was not of it.
“You’re everything I hate”
Players and teams today are very different, for better or worse. Because I’ve had my turn with the national team, I knew about training and being physically prepared. At my first camp, Leo Boivin was hanging over the boards soaked in sweat during the first practice. I asked him if he was okay, and he said, “It’s the first time I’ve put on skates since last year.” Guys in the off-season didn’t prepare and there was no support in place. Our trainer was an old goaltender who I had to show how to tape my knee. Once, I took a drink of water during practice but our coach told me not to drink water; I guess he thought it was a show of weakness or something.
DAVE BIDINI is the co-creator of ‘Slapshot Diaries’ as well as a writer/musician/columnist from Toronto and the author of 12 books.
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