This past Thursday night I played in a four on four tourney called the Pacific Hockey Artists Tournament or PHAT for short. We had six teams of six guys and played each other team in eight minute running time games. All the participants were from the arts community including guys like Craig Northey (The Odds), Dave Ogilve (Skinny Puppy), Brent Belke (SNFU) and Grant Lawrence (The Smugglers & CBC Radio). However, the biggest star we had out was ex-Canuck goaltender "King" Richard Brodeur.
Brodeur is an accomplished painter in his post-playing career and was more than willing to come out and support the local arts/hockey community. The picture is right after I brought The King a pop at the time keeper box where he was watching the action. He was more than appreciative.
I had a chance to chat with him at greater length after the games were done at the post-tournament gathering.
About thirty of us went to a nearby watering-hole to eat, drink and trade stories and verbal jabs.
I talked to Brodeur about the old WHA days and in his own words he said, "Those last few years of the WHA, the hockey was just as good as the NHL. I brought up the Birmingham "Baby" Bulls and their roster of youngsters who would go on to star in the NHL including Michel Goulet, Rick Vaive, Craig Hartsburg and Rob Ramage. In fact, the top seven point men in the final yearof the WHA all went on to have great success in the NHL. Real Cloutier, Robbie Ftorek, Kent Nilsson, Mark Howe, Morris Lukopwich, Marc Tardif and of course Wayne Gretzky all starred in the established league. When you add in Terry Ruskowski, Mike Rogers, Blair MacDonald, Mike Gartner and Blaine Stoughton the point is even clearer.
I asked Brodeur what he thought of the chances of Quebec returning to the NHL, seeing as he was an original and long-time Nordique. He told me of an event happening this coming Tuesday at Le Colisee. They have sold out the rink at $15 each to WATCH the Atlanta Thrashers play at Montreal on the big screen to show that they deserve a team. They're calling the event Le Match Bleu, and it will hopefully go along way to helping Quebec get back into the NHL.
Richard Brodeur not only proved to be a genuine nice guy, but also a nice source of hockey info.