As told to: Joe PackI was discovered after school on the backyards after being cut by the A and B St. Mike’s teams. An assistant to Father Flangan tipped the coach off. Father Flanagan was great in teaching me skating. I could go down the ice with a cup of coffee on my backside and not spill a drop. Joe Primeau taught me how to make the puck spin a little bit so that when it hits the ice – when you flip it over a guy’s stick – it doesn’t juggle it lands and hugs the ice like a curling stone. You never stop learning. I learned a lot from Rocket Richard when I moved from defence to forward, I used some of his tactics.
Gordie Howe didn’t show all that much in the beginning, but then he improved. He was sort of lackadaisical; you’d say. Gordie was cute, he’d use cute tricks on you, talk into your ear when you were on the ice. During a game, he asked me: ‘How’s the wife, Red?’ The puck was in the corner and he had one arm around me and I was cuddling the puck with my feet to make sure it didn’t get loose. I turned to say, ‘We’ll she’s great!’ and he hit me, dang-near putting me through the boards. I said, ‘You got me, that’s one’. He was cute, see?
Gordie was the reason I hooked up with my wife Andra. He was going to meet Barbara Ann Scott, who was an ice dancer at the time. The Hollywood Ice Revue was in Detroit and word in the papers was that they were about to be engaged, although the truth is they’d never met. I went with Gordie and the Revue’s manager asked if we wanted to meet Andra McLaughlin. I just mostly listened. I kinda liked what I saw. Eight years later, we eloped. The stories you hear about elopements not lasting, well, ours lasted. She had her career but when she married me, she supported me all the way, one hundred per cent. We’ve had a great life.
JOE PACK is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a rec-league rent-a-goalie.
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