As told to: Dave Bidini
STEVE LUDZIK: My first game in the NHL was with the ‘Hawks in Quebec City. During the game, I couldn’t understand why the whole bench was standing up every time the Nordiques took a slapshot from the blueline. I finally asked Tom Lysiak why this was happening, and he said: “Because Tony O (Esposito, our goalie) can’t see the puck that far away.” We lost 8-1 and I got our only goal. I intercepted a pass by Moose Dupont and beat Daniel Bouchard. After the game, Terry Ruskowski grabbed the puck for me, but he promptly lost it a few days later. Larms and my girlfriend were listening to the game on a French station back in Moncton, and at one point, he turned to her and said, “I think Ludsy scored a goal, but I gotta be honest– I can’t really understand what’s going on here.”
JOHN CHABOT: My first NHL game was the ‘83/84 season opener in the Montreal Forum against the NY Islanders. I scored a goal to put us ahead 2-1. Mike Bossy tried to make a pass across the slot, but I knocked it down and scored on Billy Smith’s short-side. I thought I played pretty well, but because it was my first year in the league, I couldn’t tell what the team was thinking. After the game, Serge Savard, who was GM at the time, was asked by reporters about what he was going to do about finding a centre for Guy Lafleur. “Guy Lafleur?” he replied. “Right now, it’s more important that I find some decent wingers for John Chabot.” It was something I’ll never forget. The following game, I played well, too, but we lost against Philadelphia. I sat out the next seventeen games in a row.
PAT HICKEY: My first point as a Ranger came at Madison Square Gardens. We were playing Detroit, who’d picked up Eddie Giacomin on waivers, and the Rangers fans couldn’t handle seeing him in another uniform. After I set up a goal to beat him, everybody booed.
RYAN WALTER: My first NHL game was with the Capitals against Chicago, at the Stadium. We were tied in the third period when our coach, Danny Belisle, tapped me on the shoulder and sent me out for a face-off in our zone. He told me: “Go get it, kid.” I skated into the circle, looked up, and there was Stan Mikita. I tied up his stick, and the puck just sat there. We eventually got it out of the zone and managed to tie the game. But the biggest wow, for me, actually happened before I’d hit the ice. It was during contract negotiations, when I was offered a 25, 000 dollar signing bonus. I went straight out and
bought an aluminum canoe.
BUGSY WATSON: My first ever professional game was with Montreal against Toronto in Maple Leaf Gardens. I was so green that on the flight over after being called from Omaha, I left a tip for the stewardess after she brought my food. I had no idea what the Hell was going on. On the way to Toronto, they lost my suitcase, so I had to wear Billy Hicke’s skates, which just about killed me. That night, I hit Dave Keon, something that nobody from Montreal had been able to do. I knocked him flying, and it was a dirty hit, but the next day, in both cities, there was a picture on the front page of Keon coming off my hip straight into the boards.
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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