Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NHL Alumni Interview with Peter Ing - The Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills

Andrew and Peter Ing at the 2011 NHL Alumni Gala
(Photo: TVOS)
In the midst of a cross Canada tour, NHL Alumni member Peter Ing and the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills Competition arrived in Ottawa on November 25th at the Nepean Sportsplex. The Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills events are open to children from the ages of 7 to 12 and provide the opportunity for the participants to test their skills in four events - shooting accuracy, passing accuracy, timed skating and puck control.

Using the innovative XHockeyProducts from Peter’s company, Fan-tastic Sports, (www.fan-tasticsports.com) the young hockey players are able to track their scores online and see how they compare with other young Canadian hockey players. Those with the best scores in the qualifying events from each city will be invited to Ottawa during the NHLs All-Star weekend to compete in the grand finale. With stops in 15 Canadian cities, the events will have brought Peter from Vancouver (on October 7th) all the way to St. Johns, Newfoundland (on December 16th) and everywhere in between.

“I havent travelled like this since I played hockey, Peter said in the dressing room before taking to the ice with another group of children. Things have been fantastic so far! There has been a great response from the kids and the parents. I think it is really exciting to see them out there having a good time. There are lots of smiles, lots of interaction and to have a chance to maybe go to the All-Star game - that is a nice carrot on top of everything.

“I have really enjoyed being in that hockey environment again, seeing hockey across Canada. It was awesome to see the different rinks across the country. Places like Edmonton, where they have four rinks, rock climbing walls and pools inside. In Regina, they had indoor soccer fields with huge ceilings, along with six ice rinks. I have seen some phenomenal facilities built for hockey and sports in general.

At each tour stop, a number of local NHL Alumni members have joined Peter on the ice, interacting with the kids, guiding them through the various challenges and offering encouragement to all. When I stopped by the rink to catch up with Peter in Ottawa, it was interesting to see that the smiles were not only on the faces of the youngsters participating, the Alumni members were having a great time too. Joining Peter at this stop on the tour were fellow NHL Alumni members Laurie Boschman, Shaun Van Allen, Tom Fergus and Patrick Lalime.

“Its great to see where guys have made their homes and finding out what they are doing now in their lives, he said of meeting up with old friends and former teammates in each city. With fifteen events and at least four alumni members at each event, you get a pretty good cross section of players. Seeing Shaun Van Allen today for example - we havent seen each other since we were teammates back in Edmonton. That was in the early 90s. Things have changed a lot since then! You get to catch up on news about their families, so its great to see so many guys. Not only the ones you played against, but the ones you played with too.

An event like the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills Competition ties right in with the NHL Alumni Association’s mission of growing the game of hockey at all levels. For the former NHL players involved with the Alumni Association, there is nothing better than working with young hockey players and helping to build memories that will last a lifetime.

“Thats what I love about this tour, it is really at the grassroots level. We have it segmented from 7 to 12-year olds, but anyone between those ages, boy or girl, can participate. You are really competing against yourself, so it is a feel-good event no matter who you are or what your background in hockey is. We have had entry-level House League kids come out with a smile and weve had Triple A hockey players that really take it seriously and want to have the best score in the country.

After crossing the country, the tour will return to Ottawa for the grand finale, which will take place on the ice of the world-famous Rideau Canal during the NHL All-Star festivities at the end of January. Along with wrapping up the Junior Skills competition, Peter and Fan-tastic Sports will be providing the interactive equipment for the NHL Fan-Fair at Ottawa's newly built, state of the art, downtown convention centre.

“It should be very interesting - you never know what the weather is going to be like here in Ottawa in January, Peter said with a laugh. I hope its not 40 below, but it will be interesting to do it right there on the Rideau Canal in front of the Ottawa Convention Centre. Our company is also running the Fan-Fair for the NHL again this year, so well finish up with the big finale out on the ice in the morning and people will have the opportunity to go inside to the warm Fan-Fair where we will have 14 interactive lanes set up.

The dedication to innovative ideas and all the hard work done by Peter, his partners and colleagues at Fan-tastic Sports, has made the company a leader in the industry. It is a tremendous achievement to be recognized by the NHL and a company like Canadian Tire to run the Junior Skills events and the All-Star Fan-Fair.

“It really is an honour for my partner, Bryce Salvador from the New Jersey Devils, myself and the rest of our partners, Peter acknowledged. The whole goal is to provide the best possible experience and the best equipment from a visual and a functional standpoint and put it on a stage. To have the NHL, Canadian Tire, Bauer, Reebok, Easton, all the different groups that come to us and want us to put on events, it really is an honour to be selected - and it is a selection process. As much as we all know that there is a fraternity from guys playing the game and such, those groups expect the best and they dont pick you based on whether you know somebody or not. It is all about knowing that you have the equipment they need and the experience that they want to portray to their fans.

“We have had quite an interesting year, both on and off the ice,” he continued. It has been a lot of fun doing this tour and events like the Detroit Red Wings HockeyFest at the Joe (Joe Louis Arena) and the Washington Capitals Convention. What has also been interesting to see, is that our portable products have really turned a corner this year too. Our entry-level products like the X-Deviator, the X-Passer, our X-Tiles and X-Targets are all starting to take off. Those are our products that any player or parent can purchase for $200 and under to work on their stick handling skills.

“I am also really happy about the blog we have started (blog.xhockeyproducts.com) because we are helping provide information to people; letting them know whats going on out in the community. We will have some guest write-ins from some different players and a drill here and there with some free tips for young hockey players. Having the blog is a great way to give back to the hockey community.

Once the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills Competition wraps up on December 16th, Peter and his colleagues at Fan-tastic Sports may be ready for a well-deserved rest, but it will not be too long before the calendar turns to 2012 and they return to Ottawa for more fun on the ice. After attending a Junior Skills event in person, seeing every child smiling and every parent beaming with pride, I think it is safe to say that everyone that took part in the event went home with a memory that will indeed last a lifetime. Congratulations to Peter and everyone at Fan-tastic Sports and Canadian Tire on a job well done!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Patrick Hoffman's Interview with me, The Voice of Sport

Visiting with Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe,
at the 2011 Scotiabank Pro-Am
(Photo TVOS)

Last week, Patrick Hoffman of Kukla's Korner interviewed me to find out how I became a writer and to help shine the spotlight on my work with the NHL Alumni Association.

Ever wondered about how I became a hockey fan? How I became the resident writer for the NHL Alumni Association or who was my favourite interview?
You can find out all those answers and a few more...

Drop by Kukla's Korner and read Patrick's interview with yours truly!

Friday, November 11, 2011

NHL Alumni Interview with Chris Nilan and Stuntman Stu

Chris Nilan and Stu Schwartz - No More Bullies

Andrew Rodger - NHLA Writer

Speaking out against bullying is not new, as it has been an ongoing problem for children of all ages for many years. Whether it is physical, verbal or cyber bullying, the results are the same. The victims live in a shroud of fear and depression. They are often left feeling isolated and alone, wondering if their anguish will ever end. Finding a solution to bullying has taken on a new sense of urgency in recent years, as a growing number of young people that are being victimized by bullies, like 15-year old Jamie Hubley in Ottawa, believed that their only solution was to take their own lives. The common goal of speaking out about bullying has brought Chris Nilan and Stu Schwartz to the forefront of the discussion, as they help to raise awareness about this complicated subject.

Lend your hand
to the Majic 100
No More Bullies campaign

A Stanley Cup champion in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens, Chris Nilan is one of the most popular players in the storied history of the illustrious Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. On a team filled with future Hall of Famers, Chris was a fierce competitor that brought toughness and a never-quit attitude to the Canadiens lineup during the 1980’s. While he defended his teammates on a regular basis by dropping the gloves, he was more than a fighter - he was a leader.

Stu Schwartz is a popular radio host in Ottawa and if you are familiar with his work on Majic 100, you may know him better by his nickname, Stuntman Stu. While he spends his mornings helping listeners start their day and head off to work, he is also the PA Announcer for the National Hockey Leagues Ottawa Senators. A former Montrealer, Stu is very active in the Ottawa community, helping numerous charities and organizations.

A victim of bullying himself, Stu commented on his radio show that if he had to visit every school in Ottawa to speak out about bullying, he would gladly do it. Some people said ‘that would take twenty years’ and he replied - then that’s how long I will be visiting schools. When his wife suggested he write ‘No More Bullies’ on his hand and circulate the picture via Twitter (@stuntmanstu), he admitted that he was doubtful at first that it would have an impact. However, it has given a voice to many that felt they were powerless to speak up; hundreds of pictures have been posted on the Majic 100 ‘No More Bullies’ Facebook page. (www.nomorebullies.ca)

“It took a few minutes for me to wrap my head around it,” Stu said about following up on his wife’s idea. “But, as I was writing it on my hand, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I thought that this was actually a great way for people to show their support. You don’t have to go protest on Parliament Hill; it’s a way to show your support and it is something that everybody can do.”

Ottawa radio host
Stuntman Stu
That age-old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words certainly rings true these days, as children, adults, entire families, police officers, teachers, the Mayor of Ottawa and the city councillors are all lending their support and their hand to ‘speak’ out against bullying. Much to Stu’s surprise, shortly after sending out his ‘No More Bullies’ picture, Chris Nilan sent out a similar picture via his @KnucklesNilan30 Twitter account.

“Within a couple of hours of doing it, Chris tweeted a picture with his Stanley Cup ring on backwards and ‘No More Bullies’ written on his hand. The minute I saw that, I was like ‘Wow, why would he do that?’ Now though, I have stopped asking why because I have been blown away by the support from everyone!”

“It’s been great to have so many people involved,” Stu said. “But when you get somebody from the sports world that you grew up watching taking part, that’s pretty cool. It’s Chris putting his name out there, saying he believes in bringing an end to bullying and that’s very admirable.”

Speaking out against bullying and standing up for kids is a natural instinct for the legendary Habs forward. He explained that standing up for others extends beyond his time in the NHL and it is something he has done his entire life.

“It’s funny, some people think it’s quite ironic that I am doing this now, but I don’t see the irony in it at all,” Chris said on the phone from Montreal. “It’s all I have ever done. Growing up as a kid, I stood up for my friends. I have been in situations before in the city, growing up in my neighbourhood, when kids were being picked on. I always stuck up for my friends and even complete strangers at times.”

“I hate to see it happen to any kid! I can only imagine the emotional, mental and sometimes physical torment that one goes through when you are subjected to that day after day. When no one helps them and they are alone, on that little island all by themselves.”

Bullying has become a multi-layered problem in today’s technological world. While many adults think of the physical and verbal aspects of bullying, it has also crossed over to the cyber world as well. The anonymous nature of the online world has led bullies to strike out in increasingly aggressive ways. Bullying can no longer be perceived as being a problem that only takes place during school hours. Victims were once able to escape to the safety of their houses, but now the abuse can follow them right into their homes.

“I experienced that form of bullying as well,” Stu confided. “I think that now that I am an adult, I can deal with it much better then I could when I was a child. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a child today and be bullied. I think now, it has become less about being beat up and more about the cyber-bullying. The word bullying just covers such a wide, wide base.”

“Whether it is cyber-bullying or whatever way that it happens, it’s a terrible thing,” added Chris. “People can get on a computer today and use that as an avenue to torment people, spreading false rumours or saying things that directly hurt or affect those kids that are perceived as weaker or maybe are a little more timid and have a hard time to gather up the strength to stand up for themselves.”

“Kids don’t understand that when they tease and pick on other kids what it can do to them,” he continued. “They don’t realize the emotional scars that those things leave on kids that are bullied. The emotional hurt, the pain, the loneliness of going home every night as the kid that is picked on. When there is nobody there to stick up for you - it is the worst feeling in the world.”

Part of the problem with bullying is that many children will stand by and watch it happen. Whether it is out of fear or indifference, they do not speak out or stand up for their classmate. This contributes to that sense of isolation for bullying victims.

“They don’t say anything to their teachers or the cops because they don’t want to be perceived as someone that is a ‘rat’,” stated Chris. “In a situation like that though, what allegiance do they have to the person that is picking on a kid and doing what they’re doing? There should be no allegiance. There might be some fear because that person who goes and tells is probably retaliated against. That’s why a lot of people don’t step up and say something, but people have to start to step up and speak out. More importantly, educators, teachers and people that are in the school system have to take it more seriously and there has to be education and some kind of punishment for these actions too.”

As previously mentioned, more and more young people victimized by bullies feel that their only solution, their only escape from the emotional and physical pain of bullying, is to take their own lives. The constant torment and isolation leads to depression and they simply cannot take the abuse any more. It is a tragic situation that requires us as a society to stand up and say this cannot continue. We have to bring about change!

Habs Legend Chris Nilan
“We want to be able to talk to kids and teach them,” Chris explained. “To have them learn that what they are doing can really, really hurt someone. It can force someone like Jamie Hubley in Ottawa to take his own life to get away from the torment. A kid that reached out for help and couldn’t get it. A kid that was told, it’s not a big deal and was brushed aside. It was a big deal to him; it was such a big deal that he took his own life. It’s just a terrible, terrible place for a kid to be!”

“For Jamie Hubley’s memory to stay alive, I think he has to be the last one,” Stu said, his voice filled with emotion. “We do not want to see what happened to Jamie happen in Ottawa or anywhere else again. No child should have to experience that, no adult should have to experience that. I am not proposing that we all sit around and hold hands by the campfire. We are all different and have different views - people are different, that’s just the way it is. If you don’t like somebody, don’t pay any attention to them, just leave them alone.”

Those who knew Jamie Hubley say that the young man was a talented singer and actor. He had a smile ready for anyone that needed one, but he battled with depression caused by the constant bullying he experienced at school. His father told CBC News that Jamie was “the kind of boy that loved everybody” and he couldn’t understand why others could be so cruel. Jamie was bullied for being openly gay, as well as the fact that he loved figure skating. It is a tragedy that could have been avoided. We need to embrace our differences - our individual differences are what make our society great. As Stu said, we do not want to see this happen ever again.

When the Season Three cast of the CBC’s Battle of the Blades heard about Jamie’s passing, they too joined in the discussion about bullying. All of the participants dedicated their skating programs to Jamie and posted special video messages at the Battle of the Blades website (www.cbc.ca/battle), extending their condolences to the Hubley family, as well expressing the need for the bullying to end.

Jeremy Roenick - “I was born and raised to treat other people like I wanted to be treated myself. There is no room in this world for bullying. You might think that you are making yourself look cool or look better, but really, you are making yourself look like one of the most despicable people in the world. We are here to respect each other, help each other and enjoy a life that God has given us. If you are being bullied, please reach out to your parents, reach out to a teacher or a friend... Don’t create nightmares, build dreams.”

Bryan Berard - “If we see bullying, on the playgrounds, in school, or wherever it is, I think we should stand up for each other and help each other out and stop bullying. We really have to get that message out there to help kids. Also, speak up if you are having a tough time, whether it’s at school, at work, wherever you are, we can reach out and help each other. We can save lives.”

Brad May - “It should not matter if you are gay or if you are straight, if you play hockey or if you are a figure skater, the bullying and the ridiculing has to stop. We are skating for Jamie, we are skating for all of the kids that are bullied and please, if you are one doing the bullying - you have to stop.”

Chris has already spoken at several schools about the dangers and effects of bullying and he is actively working towards starting several projects with the No More Bullies message. While kids may not always think it is ‘cool’ to listen to their teachers, hopefully, having a Stanley Cup champion speaking out will get their attention.

“If I can help spread a message, then that’s great,” Chris said. “But it is going to come down to the educators, the teachers and the people in the schools every day to be more active when it comes to reporting these incidents. Kids need to get out of their comfort zone and overcome the fear of retaliation and saying something. It’s making teachers aware that there are vulnerable kids, constantly being terrorized.”

“It’s something I am passionate about it and I’ll help any way I can. We are doing some things at my website (www.knucklesnilan.com) and we are making some shirts with the ‘No More Bullies’ message and we’ll donate the proceeds to an organization that works to help kids. Hopefully, we can help these kids get the help that they need.”

Stu and his colleagues at Majic 100 are embarking on a series of school visits in the Ottawa area starting this month, hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of bullying as well. It is a message that kids, teachers, parents, all of us need to hear and take to heart. Standing by on the sidelines is no longer an option.

“I’m doing this because I was bullied,” Stu said. “I am also doing this because I don’t want my kids to be bullied and experience that in any way, shape or form. We live in a community - this is what we do. When a story came out at the start of the school year about an incident at a Nepean high school, I felt very passionate about doing something because it brought back a lot of memories for me that were pretty painful.”

“I think we have a really good presentation, with some experience, some amazing stories and messages that we hope will sink in,” he continued. “To the bullies sitting in the crowd, who may laugh it off at the beginning of the presentation, I hope that by the end of it they think twice and realize what words can do.”

At the end of each interview, I asked Stu and Chris to speak directly to the young hockey fans that visit the NHL Alumni website. It is time to change our attitudes, not only about bullying, but also about how we treat each other on a daily basis. Whether it is at work, at home, online, or simply passing each other on the street, it is time for change and it is certainly time for us all to lend a hand and say it is time for No More Bullies.

“Words can kill,” Stu said emphatically. “If a young person reads this and doesn’t understand what I mean by that, let me explain. When you put words out there on a social media site, when you email someone hurtful things and you think you are just kidding around, the person on the other end of that tweet or Facebook message may not see it that way. You really have to think every time you post something, that this could have some serious repercussions, somebody on the other end may not see the humour and they may be hurt by it.”

“Just understand,” Chris began. “That when you say something bad about someone else, how much it really hurts them inside - understand how much you can hurt a person. If you are a kid that is not involved with bullying, but you see it happening, step in and help that person. Whether it is going to a teacher or the police, step up and try to protect that kid that is being picked on and bullied. Step in there, maybe get out of your comfort zone, and try to hep that person. Go to a teacher, guidance counsellor, police officer, public safety official, anybody, to try to get their attention and make them aware of the situation. It’s not just physical bullying, words can hurt just as much as any weapon or fist. Actually, they can hurt a lot more!”

Chris and Stu are helping to lead the way, but it is time for all of us to get involved. We must stand up and deliver the message - it is time for a world with no more bullies.

If you are a victim of bullying and feel isolated and alone, please know that you are not alone. It is important to speak to your parents, a teacher, anyone that will listen. If they do not take you seriously, try again. If you need help or need advice on how to speak to someone about bullying, call the Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 - they are there to help too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NHL Alumni Interview with Lanny McDonald - 2011 NHLA Man of the Year

Andrew and Lanny at the 2011 Scotiabank Pro-Am
in Toronto (May 2011)
Photo by TVOS (copyright TVOS)
Every year at their annual Gala Dinner, the NHL Alumni Association honours one of its members as the Man of the Year. The award recognizes an individual who has worked tirelessly in their community and throughout the hockey world assisting those in need, as well as fulfilling the mission of the NHL Alumni Association - helping to grow the game of hockey at all levels.

In previous years, the Man of the Year Award has been presented to some of the greatest players in the long and storied history of the NHL. Hockey legends and ambassadors for the game like Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, Johnny Bower and Bobby Hull, to name a few of the past winners. This year was no exception, as the NHL Alumni Association honoured Hall of Famer and Stanley Cup champion, Lanny McDonald.

With his wife Ardell and youngest son Graham in attendance, as well as a room full of friends and NHL Alumni supporters, McDonald was presented the 2011 Man of the Year Award by his long-time friend and former Calgary Flames teammate, Colin Patterson.

“When you are honoured by your peers when you are just trying to do the right thing, it’s pretty cool,” Lanny said in a recent interview. “When you look around the room at all the alumni guys that were there, it was so much fun to renew old acquaintances. Some guys played with you, some guys played against you and we ran the heck out of each other during our playing days, but we are all on the same team now.”

“When I would look up behind me at the banners of the previous winners, it was pretty unbelievable. It’s a who’s who of hockey - Jean Beliveau, Johnny Bower, Bobby Hull. It doesn’t get much better than that. I was honoured, humbled and a little bit embarrassed all at the same time.”

While he has been honoured in the past with various awards for his accomplishments, both on and off the ice, being recognized by his peers and fellow alumni members was a special moment for the man Patterson describes as the “Jean Beliveau of his era”.

“It’s pretty incredible because as I mentioned, you could run the heck out of each other and in the old days, you didn’t even talk to each other - not even during the off season! Yet, when your playing days are over, you become part of this bigger team. Whether you are raising money at events in your own hometown or with the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni, the Vancouver or Calgary Alumni, you are all on the same team now.”

“I have had the opportunity to do some pretty outstanding things,” Lanny said. “Like visiting our troops in Afghanistan. To do something for your country when you are so proud of being a Canadian and so proud of the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, it is outstanding to be honoured by the Alumni Association as we share a few stories and a few laughs at the Gala.”

Honoured at the NHL Alumni Gala Dinner with McDonald, was Ron MacLean from the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada (Keith McCreary 7th Man Award) and Earl Cook (Ace Bailey Award of Courage). MacLean’s role in the hockey world is well known, but Earl also made a significant impact on the game during his short life. A young man from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Earl battled through many challenges and health issues before he passed away a week before the Gala at the age of 23 from cancer. An avid hockey player and Detroit Red Wings fan, Earl was an inspiration to everyone he met and everyone that heard his story.

“First of all,” Lanny said. “How cool is it to be honoured with two people that obviously love the game the way those two guys do! I thought that the speech Mike Babcock did honouring Earl - the way Earl was, not only as a person but also as a Detroit Red Wings fan - that was incredible. To be honoured with Ron MacLean too, who to me is Mr. Hockey because of how he represents himself on a daily basis as a great ambassador for the game, I think he’s the ultimate professional.”

During my recent interview about the Gala Dinner and the award winners with Mark Napier, the Executive Director of the NHL Alumni Association, we discussed Lanny’s charitable work and his tireless efforts to help people and communities in need; much of it happening away from the spotlight of the media. I asked Lanny where his giving nature comes from. Was it something his parents instilled in him or did he learn about being involved in the community from his coaches and teammates?

“It was a little bit of everything, but especially growing up, it came from my dad,” he recalled. “We didn’t have a whole lot, but we had a whole lot if you know what I mean. Dad instilled in us, a love for sport, a love for hard work and a love of our community. If there was any project going on in the community, my dad was right in the middle of it. Whether it was a fundraising event or someone’s garage or barn had burned down and the community had gathered to rebuild it, he just loved being in the center of it. He was never asking for thanks or praise at the end of the day, he knew it was about a job well done. When everyone knows everybody else in a community, it’s not too hard to roll up your sleeves and find a way to help get the job done.”

Whether you have played in one game at the NHL level or one thousand, you are an equal member of the NHL Alumni Association. Teammates and former opponents share in the special bond of being part of hockey’s greatest family. When a new member joins the family, Lanny is there to make them feel like part of the team.

“It’s an honour to be an alumni member,” he said proudly. “When a young guy walks into the dressing room, he never knows what’s waiting for him on the other side. If you can meet him with a smile and a handshake, it takes the pressure off and makes him feel pretty special right away. There certainly is a life after hockey and the bond that you share with these guys, helps you in whatever you choose to do later.”

To help honour Lanny, I asked a few of his friends and fellow NHLA members to share their thoughts about our 2011 NHL Alumni Man of the Year:

Theo Fleury: For a young hockey player coming into the NHL there was no better role model than Lanny McDonald. Class, Integrity and an all around great guy!

Laurie Boschman: I played with Lanny when I was first drafted by the Maple Leafs. He is a first class individual and along with Ron Ellis, Darryl Sittler and Borje Salming, Lanny was one of the players that was instrumental in helping me and showing me how to be a professional.

Steve Webb: Being from Toronto, you grew up watching Lanny play in the Maple Leafs uniform and of course, he won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames - he was a great leader there. To be able to rub shoulders with him at different events, like the Pro-Am for Baycrest, seeing how he conducts himself. He’s just the perfect example of an athlete representing his sport with class and dignity. Lanny’s a great person to be around and a really funny guy. When you walk into these Alumni events, you’re sort of like the young rookie walking into a veteran room again and he’s the first guy to say ‘Hey kid, how are you doing?’

Ryan VandenBussche: I have never seen a guy with so much energy as Lanny has! I went to Afghanistan with him for two years in a row and he was the most energetic guy out on the tarmac, which is pretty hard on the knees. He was right in the corners, getting the ball out to Mark Napier. He’s a pretty neat guy and when he says something, you know he is saying something important. He’s just an all around great guy.

Ryan Walter: Lanny was a terrific competitor any time you played against him. One of the greatest things you could say about a hockey player - I would say this about Wayne Gretzky and I would say it about Lanny McDonald too, they came to play every night and played their best game on the ice. I think the other thing you could say about him is that he is such a great ambassador for our game and has a real love for people. I have always been impressed by Lanny.

Kraig Neinhuis: Lanny engages in each and every person and conversation. He makes you feel as though you’re a special person when he speaks to you. He remembered facts and tidbits about me as he introduced me to his wife and son at the NHL Alumni Gala as if I’m an old friend. He’s a warm wonderful person.

Paul Harrison: He is an exceptional individual and he could certainly shoot the puck, I can attest to that - I’ve still got the bruises because I was the target! Quite frankly, I think that Lanny owes me for his success. (Paul said this with a laugh) If he didn’t have me as a target to shoot at during our years in Toronto, he would never have been the great goal scorer that he was - he should acknowledge my contribution to his career.

Colin Patterson: He is the Jean Beliveau of his era - A great player and ambassador for the game of hockey who acted with lots of class. When we won the cup, the player on the team that we were happiest for was Lanny.