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Finally, Someone Asked Alan Thicke About The Riots

Illustration for article titled Finally, Someone Asked Alan Thicke About The Riots

Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: Jason Seaver gets the final word.


Thicke joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to talk about his reaction to the riots breaking out in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 Wednesday night, how the Canucks' fans inside the arena were all class after Boston won - more indicative of the city, sport and Canadian sporting fans - Roberto Luongo's struggles in net late in the series, his experiences playing and practicing with hockey legends like Wayne Gretzky, Cam Neely, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gordie Howe, Terry O'Reilly and others, and how he and Alex Trebek went on to form the first celebrity hockey leagues back in the day out in Los Angeles.

What his general thoughts are of the rioting that took place in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Wednesday night:
"Well I think if their team was as tough and aggressive as their fans were in the streets, they would have had a different result. And I certainly would chastise the thugs and hooligans who gave Vancouver a black eye by running rampant in the streets afterwards. But I would like to point out in celebration of the fans who were in the arena, if you were in the arena you would have noticed they continued to recognize the excellence of the Boston Bruins and Tim Thomas after the game was over. Good sportsmanship from fans who know their hockey and appreciate good hockey, and in turn, the Canucks, the losers that they were raised their sticks in celebration and appreciation of their fans. And then we have the traditional handshake between the teams at the end, we always like to see that. Canadians are always proud of that tradition, and I wish we would have seen some of that in basketball in Miami last week as opposed to the total silence of the fans, the quick departure of the Heat, and no real sense of celebration, closure and finality to the NBA Playoffs until DeShawn Stevenson got arrested."


On Roberto Luongo being labeled LeBruongo for his struggles late in the series:
"Well he certainly more than disappeared. He had not a horrible game yesterday, but very shaky for the three that they lost. To be outscored by the Bruins 23-8 when you've got the regular season scoring leaders and the big man in nets like that is a pretty embarrassing way to go out. As you know, the Swedes historically were regarded as not being very tough in the final stages of any playoff. They used to say that a Swede could go into a corner with an egg in his pocket and come out with it unbroken. I don't know if that's true anymore, and the Swedes certainly acquit themselves well in international hockey, but they got out-muscled, but Boston beat them up pretty well. I go back to the old days of Orr, Esposito and more recently Cam Neely - I'm real good pals with all those guys; I used to practice with those guys - and it's been a long time since Boston could celebrate. So I'm happy for all of those guys."

Wait, he used to practice with Cam Neely?
"No, I golf with Cam. But I used to practice with Orr and Espo, including in the old Boston Garden. And when they would come to LA, I would be invited down. It was kind of embarrassing - they would do the slap shot drill from the blue line, and I would remember on one occasion Gerry Cheevers taking off his goalie gloves and catching my slap shots with his bare hands. Pretty much speaks for my….You know, the Bruins were tough. They were known as the Big Bad Bruins. I was never a fighter, in midget hockey I got in one fight - I got so scared I wet the other guy's pants. So nobody bothered me after that."

In terms of his personal and professional highlights, where practicing with hockey legends like Cam Neely and Bobby Orr ranks:
"Very, very high. Through no fault of my own, through no reflection of my hockey skills, I've gotten to play on the same line with Howe and Gretzky; at the 1988 All Star Game in St. Louis, I actually got to suit up and dress for the pre-game warmups and all that. I've had lots of thrills through my affection for hockey. I'm a groupie, I'm a hockey groupie. It was the most fun I've ever had with naked guys playing was playing hockey and being in the locker room."

Does he have a good story to share about getting drunk with Neely?
"No, not with Cam. I do remember…I've been around on a few occasions with some guys and you wonder if they would ever be heard from again after the night that we had. No, nothing scandalous with Cam."


If practicing with Neely doesn't rank atop his perks of being famous, what does top the list:
"That's right up there. Most recently - meaning just this past February - I played in Gretzky's fantasy camp (which I do every year) and had the winning team. And you know, Wayne played with us for awhile, which he did with the other teams, but to win something with Gretzky on the ice, that was a big deal. I had my nose by broken while I was on the ice with Gordie Howe and Stan Mikita. That was pretty good. I've paid my dues. I've lost my teeth and lots of scars because I'm no good. I used to be a better puck ducker, but that's slowed down. I get hit every once in awhile now."

Whether he hit any of these big name stars:
"No, not that they would notice I don't think. I've been laughed off. I remember big crunches from Terry O'Reilly back in the Big Bad Bruins days for instance. And I played with the Flyers. You know, I put together the first celebrity hockey league back in LA, and that was with my old friend Alex Trebek many years ago. And we played exhibitions and fundraisers all across the country, and now it's actually a big deal and we make money doing it because there's many more celebrities playing hockey nowadays. Tim Robbins, Dennis Leary are in many of the events that we play on the East Coast…."


Wait, Alex Trebek? He doesn't play does he?
"Well he did. This was back in the 1920s. I brought Alex Trebek to this country, I was producing gameshows for NBC and Alex and I were pals and we put together that first team. Michael J. Fox played a lot with us back in those days. So, yeah, we've paid our dues. In fact the last great Canadian riot - other than waiting for Justin Beiber tickets - was in '93 and that was in Montreal when the Kings played, the only time the Kings ever made it to the Finals. And Montreal won the Stanley Cup that year, and I was there for the last game, and we went in got in the limo…I was with Bruce McNall, the indicted owner from the Felons Division of the NHL, and we got in the limo afterwards and the riots started. Guys were jumping on the hood of our car, it was a life-threatening experience. And these were the winners! So this is the last time a Canadian team won! So you can imagine how they felt in Vancouver when they lost."

Was he more embarrassed for the city, the country or the sport when he saw the riots unfold last night:
"It was embarrassing for the city and to some extent the country. It's a great city and they didn't behave like this when they won the international event at the Olympics, so you wonder why they were such bad sports. But again, the fans inside the arena - the true hockey fans - acquitted themselves very nicely. The thugs outside, it was looking like a soccer crowd for a minute."


This post, written by Michael Bean, appears courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews. For the complete highlights of the interview, as well as audio, click here.

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