43 YEARS IN THE NHL FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Bobby Orr wrote a book called “MY STORY” which came out recently. It was on my list to Santa this year and she came through, the book was under the Christmas tree. Reading Bobby’s book, I was particularly interested in his humble beginnings, playing “shinny” hockey on a pond and playing just for the fun of it. We both came from the same era and I can relate to many of the stories he tells in the book.
Living in Rigaud, a small town west of Montreal, near the Ontario border, there wasn’t much of anything that was organized for kids. During the winter, we played hockey for fun, skating on outdoor rinks and ponds for entertainment.
I lived on “rue Ste-Madeleine”. The boys on the street all got together to build our own skating skating rink. The Cadieux family had a large lot across the street from my house. They would leave a window unlocked which opened into their basement so that we could pull out the hose to water the rink. It was kept inside to prevent it from freezing. We built our rink from scratch with snow and water. We made the perimeter by piling up snow, making it as square as possible and watering it. It was our “chef-d’oeuvre” our pride…It was ours. We would scrape it when it snowed; water it at night so that we could have good ice the next day. If there was a thaw, we would simply rebuild it. We skated after school and week-ends as long as the two lights installed at each end of the house would allow us to see or until we were called home or told to leave. Sometimes, we would practice our shots against the house which wasn’t much appreciated by the home owners.
It seemed like a big rink at the time but when I returned as an adult, the yard wasn’t as big as I imagined it; just like the hill I used to walk up to go to school which felt a whole lot bigger and steeper than it really is. (I guess I must have walked uphill both ways, in the snow, as the saying goes)
There was one set of goalie equipment which nobody wanted to wear. So I often volunteered to be the goalie. Not that we kept score but it was nice to have goalies. “You can’t live with them but can’t live without them” is one of my favorite sayings. I was infatuated by goalies as a young boy. At a very young age, I used to get up early I the morning, throw a ball against the door and use the stair posts leading upstairs for my net. I pretended to be Jacques Plante or my favorite goalie, Terry Sawchuck. My imaginary team won the Stanley Cup many times . . . and, of course, I was the hero each time.
Those were the days when hockey was played for fun. There was no pressure, there were no expectations. Pro hockey and the NHL were like something from outer space. We idolized the players and loved to watch the game on TV on Saturday nights, but it was certainly something that was out of reach for a young boy from Rigaud. We dreamed of playing in the NHL but it was never something that was real. Believe it or not, the first “live” NHL game that I attended in person, I actually played in it…
It was only when I moved to LaSalle, a suburb of Montreal, at 12 years old, that I played organized hockey and, as fate would have it, it was as a goalie.
My NHL story begins at a bus stop in LaSalle when my friend Roger Peloquin told me he was going to a Bantam tryout that night. I had no idea what a tryout was or what Bantam meant but I wanted to be a part of it. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been at that bus stop on that specific cold September morning.
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
PHIL MYRE

IS FIGHTING IN THE NHL ON THE WAY OUT?

There’s no doubt about it! Fighting in the NHL is on “Life support”! Will the NHL pull the plug?
As long as I remember, there was fighting in the NHL. It’s been a tradition, inbred in the minds of hockey fans for decades. It has served as a neutralizer, a deterrent to “cheap shots” and it also served to discourage those players who are faint of heart from playing in the NHL. I always supported fighting in our game. I felt that it was necessary to avoid a lot of stick work and cheap shots from players who know that there’s no consequence other than a possible penalty.
Hockey is a tough sport. It’s physical, it’s fast and it’s emotional and intense. Injuries are bound to happen. However, the league can no longer allow its players to deliberately cause each other injuries as part of the game.
Today’s technological culture, public opinion, legal issues and media are forcing the NHL to make a decision on fighting. “Banish hockey fights or make it difficult and costly for players to fight!” Games are all on TV with multiple cameras taking High Definition live pictures. Social Media and networks pick up the most unusual events and blow them out of proportion. The increasing number of head injuries and a former players’ lawsuit are forcing the NHL to pay more attention to the protection and health of their players.
Like the NHL, hockey fans, including myself, must come to the realization that it’s over. Inevitably, the visor will become mandatory. It will, by its nature, curb fighting. I watched fights in the CHL where visors are mandatory. I find it to be barbaric and a senseless demonstration of two players hitting each other’s helmet and visor and risking injury to their hands more than causing injury to their pugilistic opponent. It’s absurd and our “young players” should not be subjected to it.
I’s no longer a question of IF… Fighting will be phased out…But one WHEN and HOW. When it happens, the league will absolutely need to act severely on players who are guilty of “stick infractions” and unnecessary “charging” infractions. Because some players will be a lot “braver” if they don’t have that fear that some tough guy is going to beat their brains out. One suggestion is that the guilty players of such infractions serve the full length of the penalty regardless of the number of goals scored. Fines and suspensions will need to be maximized as well.
Yes, the good ole days of the “Broad Street Bullies” and the “Big Bad Bruins” are over. In the “New NHL”, only a few players fight anyway. The tough guys fight each other and it really has little effect on the outcome of the game.
So let’s move on, pull the plug and let fighting die of natural death… and get accustomed to the mandatory visor and look forward to the day when the first NHL player wears a full facial cage…
Yes I believe that it will come…Food for thought…
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
PHIL MYRE

THANKSGIVING DAY GRATITUDE!

Thanksgiving Day is around the corner. That Holiday has always been very special for me. It’s a good time for reflection, for appreciation for what you have and time to say THANK YOU for the things that you love. Here are a few things that I’m thankful for this Holiday Season:

THANK YOU FOR WINTER:

Without the cold Canadian winters, there would be no snow. Without snow there would have been no outdoor rinks. Without outdoor rinks, there would be no HOCKEY!

THANK YOU FOR WATER:

Without water, there would be no ICE. Without ice we couldn’t skate. If we can’t skate, there would be no HOCKEY!

THANK YOU FOR TREES:

Without trees, there would be NO WOOD. Without wood there would be no HOCKEY STICKS. (Titanium and composite didn’t exist in early 1900. Although they did have one piece sticks) Without sticks we couldn’t shoot the pucks. Therefore there would be no HOCKEY!

THANK YOU FOR RUBBER:

Without rubber there would be no PUCKS!  Without pucks we would have nothing to score with. Therefore there would be no HOCKEY! (Otherwise, we might be playing hockey with “cow turd”…)

THANK YOU FOR IRON ORE

Without iron, there would be no BLADES FOR SKATES. Without blades, we would have no skates. Therefore there would be no HOCKEY!

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING ELSE…

Of course I’m thankful for all the other things in my life like family, health, friends and all that stuff…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Phil Myre

CELEBRITIES OR HEROES! Are they the same?

I came across a great quote today that made me think about who we select to be our heroes and which celebrities we choose to glorify. Here is the quote:

“Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real model”. Daniel J. Boorstin (1)    

Just because someone is a celebrity doesn’t mean that he is a hero or a role model. Parents should be vigilant on who their children choose as their hero. Let’s not let the media choose them for us. It seems to me that we are all victims of advertising, marketing and the media selecting what is important for us to watch and hear.  

Tiger Woods never had as much exposure as when he had a big sex scandal. Lindsay Lohan has been on the headlines more for her addictions than for her talent as an actress. I won’t expand on the eccentricity of “Lady Gaga” as a role model for our kids. Hockey has had its bad boys too so it’s important that kids pick the right celebrity to adulate.

Celebrities often don’t realize the impact they can have on young people and adults as well. They have a responsibility towards their fans as much as to the team that they play for. The impact can define itself by a simple autograph given with a smile and a caring comment or giving a presentation in a school.

I experienced this myself several times as a professional athlete. Some events happened during my career as a goalie in the NHL that seemed very trivial to me but were so memorable to the people that I interacted with.

Recently I met a man who showed me a picture of the two of us. He was an 8 year old wide eyed kid standing beside me getting an autograph. He was very excited to finally get his picture signed. To my surprise, he remembered every details of our encounter. What seemed so trivial to me to sign an autograph was important to him and he remembered it through his adult life.  

Then my distant cousin recently connected with me and gave me a DVD of his collection of scrapbooks, newspaper clippings and pictures over my whole career. He is so excited about his production that he posted it on YouTube.   (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=phil+myre&aq=f). I met him only on a couple of occasions when he was about 10 years old and I was beginning my career with the Montreal Canadiens. We never saw each other beyond that but the short time that we had was enough to influence him as he was growing up.

Those stories illustrate the impact that a celebrity can have on young people. It may seem insignificant to the famed person but yet, can have a lifetime impact to the fan involved.   

So let’s not be fooled between a celebrity and a role model. Yes, some celebrities can be role models but the title doesn’t come automatically. Conversely, role models don’t have to be celebrities. The person who had the biggest positive impact on my childhood was my grandfather. And don’t let the media choose who our heroes should be.  

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!

Phil Myre (philmyretalkshockey.com)   (Blog every Tuesday and Friday)

(1)      Boorstin was an American historian, professor, attorney, and writer. He was appointed twelfth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1975 until 1987.  Boorstin describes shifts in American culture — mainly due to advertisingwhere the reproduction or simulation of an event becomes more important or “real” than the event itself.