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Old Broad Street Bully back in hockey trenches
Tues. Dec. 1, 1998. After the Cheering - By George Gamester, Toronto Star.
You know, those goons in Norse legends had a terrific deal.
After a lifetime of battle, worthy warriors were elevated to a paradise called Valhalla where they could feast, booze and make out with the Valkyries for eternity.
But it ain't like that in the NHL, folks. Just ask Dave (The Hammer) Schultz. After a hockey lifetime of slashin' and bashin' he finds himself in Utica, N.Y.
Hey, not that Utica is a bad place. But it's no Valhalla - especially when your team is 10th in an 11-team league.
You remember Dave, the mild-mannered kid from Saskatchewan who became a gladiator after coaches suggested he could reach the big time a lot faster with ferocity than finesse.
Well! Before you could say ``assault and battery,'' The Hammer had become the baaadest dude in the NHL, helping transform the once-mediocre Philadelphia Flyers into an intimidating juggernaut known as the Broad Street Bullies.
But you know what happens to bullies. Although he actually scored 20 goals in 1973-74 when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup, The Hammer's most impressive number was 472, his penalty minute total for 1974-75, still an NHL record. Two years later, he was gone from Philly.
When he finally hung up the knuckles in 1980, after stints with L.A., Pittsburgh and Buffalo, he'd spent 45 hours in the sin bin. A year after his retirement, Schultz claimed in his autobiography: ``I love hockey, and wish reckless violence wasn't part of it.''
Ahem. Still, you can't keep a bad man down. That's why the 49-year-old father of two college grads is now back in hockey as coach and GM of the expansionist Mohawk Valley Prowlers of the United (formerly Colonial) league.
``Yes, I've still got all my teeth,'' he says, ``and a limo business which my wife runs. But I couldn't stay away from the game. We're struggling now, but things will improve.''
Does Schultzie have an enforcer to help turn the tide?
``We certainly do,'' he beams. ``Best policeman in the league - Serge Roberge. When I look down the bench and give him the nod, ol' Serge knows exactly what to do.''
In case you're unfamiliar with Serge's career, the pugnacious right winger (kid brother of former Canadiens' enforcer Mario Roberge) has shuffled through 14 teams, including nine games with the Quebec Nordiques in '91, racking up 3,650 penalty minutes while scoring a grand total of 49 goals in 16 seasons.
Sounds like The Hammer's kind of guy.