Phil was an incredible defenceman, a guy who could easily play forward as well. An excellent skater with an unbelievable eye and reach. Phil could stop on a dime and the puck would come off his stick like a rocket ship.
Larry Robinson was beside me and he turned to me and said, “Hey Rocky, I’m so glad you’re here, you really deserve it, I really thought you should have had your shot in Montreal.”
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.
I got in a fight that night with Claude Julien. I’d fought him in junior, so I knew I could beat him up. I did pretty good against him, and all the scouts were there.
Jacques Plante was a great goalie, but as a team guy he was a piece of shit. He was always broke and borrowing money, but he’d never pay you back.
To me, Dave Keon was as classy a guy as I ever met in hockey. And I loved the way he played and conducted himself. He was quiet, he had his own way of doing things, but who cares, we were so lucky to have him on our team
I was just playing hockey with my pals. I didn’t have dreams of going to the NHL or anything. We were a town of 6000 with dads coaching. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I realized you can go play junior.
There’s a bond among fighters because we all have a fear of failure. Most fighters, off the ice, are the nicest guys because of this very real weakness that we have to stare down and try and face, but sometimes, cannot.
I was sitting there at the bar when two rookies– Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey– came in and found me. One grabbed my sandwich, one grabbed my Coke, and told me I was going with them.
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.
Episode One: Surviving Michel Therrien – Stories of a life in hockey, about hockey, by former Montreal Canadien and Newfoundland hockey legend and author Terry Ryan with broadcaster Victoria Matiash.