Rick Vaive was the first 50-goal scorer in the history of the storied Toronto Maple leafs franchise – but his accomplishments are often overlooked because he played on some of the most pitiful teams in Leafs history.
He’d be named captain at just 22-years old and would reel off three 50-goal seasons, but the Leafs were in shambles – and soon, Vaive’s career would be too.
While he was winning battles on the ice, away from the arena he was no match for the demons that would hasten his exit from the NHL and haunt him long after his career was over.
This is the story of Rick Vaive – his achievements, his struggles, and his road to redemption.
Marc Tardif - The Most Underrated Player of the 1970s and the Violent Act He Can Never Forget
Two-time WHA MVP and Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup winner Marc Tardif is the forgotten star of the 1970s. The WHA’s all-time leading goal scorer and an NHL All Star, Tardif’s magnificent career is certified Hall of Fame worthy.
By the end of the 1975-76, Tardif was the best LW in the game. But Tardif’s career nearly came to a premature end in April 1976 after a violent and senseless attack left him bloodied and severely injured. Eventually, Tardif battled back from the physical pain, managed his emotional trauma and go on to realize his greatest career achievements.
When his playing days ended, the Quebec Nordiques retired his #8 and he’d enjoy great success off the ice. But the nightmares of that horrifying night in 1976 persisted. In order to erase those haunting memories and achieve true peace of mind, Marc Tardif would need to come face to face with the man who nearly ruined his life.
“Wild” Willie Trognitz once committed an act so violent he received a lifetime ban from a pro hockey league. But in the 1970s that act of mayhem would earn him a promotion AND a major league hockey contract.
He couldn’t skate or stickhandle well, but these skills weren’t necessary for Willie to succeed. In hockey’s goon era, his mighty and mangled fists were all he needed to achieve his hockey dreams.
But a much more meaningful achievement would come later in life when Willie was honored as a Canadian hero for an extraordinary act of courage.
This is the incredible story of Wild Willie Trognitz – a tale of bloodshed, intimidation and the eventual redemption of one of hockey’s most notorious enforcers.
He was a junior hockey superstar – and the #1 selection in the NHL Draft.
But , his NHL dream quickly became a nightmare and he never reached the heights expected of him.
However, his impact on the world and the NHL had little to do with unfulfilled expectations.
Instead, the story of Doug Wickenheiser is a story of a proud and courageous man whose resilience in the face of public failure and grace amidst heartbreaking misfortune left a proud legacy that continues long after his tragic death.
“Doug Wickenheiser was the most courageous human being I’ve ever met.”
– Red Fisher,
Hall of Fame Montreal Gazette Columnist
With his movie star looks, gregarious personality and stellar two-way play, Peter Zezel was a popular player with Mike Keenan’s youthful Philadelphia Flyers teams of the 1980s. Later, Zezel would go on to earn accolades with the St. Louis Blues and would help lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to their best post-season performances in the modern era.
But despite this success, Zezel’s legacy will always be his decision to choose humanity over hockey in the face of a cruel betrayal by hockey management. This is the inspirational -- and ultimately heartbreaking -- story of Peter Zezel -- a man whose tremendous talent was surpassed only by his generous soul.
February 20, 1973
Weeks ago, a general manager of one of the National Hockey League teams had a question.
"What do you think of Marc Tardif?" he asked me,
"He has the credentials to be an excellent hockey player," the g.m, was told.
"That's what I think," he said. "Why aren't they using him?"
"Because he's not using his credentials," was the answer.
"I think he can be happy here," the g.m. said. "We sure could use him. We could use him a lot."
"So could Canadiens," he was told, "but nobody knows for sure if Marc wants to play."
There are others who have asked about Tardif in recent weeks.
The Hockey world hasn’t produced a more fascinating character than WHA and NHL goaltender Gilles “Loony” Gratton.
Gratton never really wanted to be a professional goaltender; he wanted to be a Tibetan monk. And he’d eventually quit hockey to seek enlightenment.
But Gratton’s path from playing big league hockey to finding spiritual wisdom was a raucous one marked by sex, drugs and rock/roll, overshadowing his unique talent that made him one of hockey’s most promising young goaltenders.
Here’s the story of the man behind the iconic goalie mask. The eccentric oddball who hated hockey -- but became one the game’s most memorable characters.
Bill Goldsworthy was the first big star of the Minnesota North Stars franchise. An aggressive winger with a blistering shot, Goldsworthy was a four-time NHL All Star, who danced his way into fans' hearts with his patented “Goldy Shuffle”, which he performed after each of his goals scored on home ice.
But Goldy’s celebrations and aggressiveness didn’t end at the final buzzer. Away from the arena, Goldsworthy’s undisciplined and impulsive behaviour would eventually fracture his family, destroy his career and, ultimately, end his life.
Somewhere between being the celebrated face of a franchise and the unlikely face of a deadly illness, Bill Goldsworthy’s tormented Jekyl and Hyde existence is a cautionary tale of a life lived well over the edge.
This is the untold story of Bill Goldsworthy. His legendary career, his undeniable legacy -- and his deadly demons
Jacques Richard was considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of Quebec junior hockey. In 1972, he was the #2 overall pick in the NHL draft and appeared on the fast track to big league stardom.
But his equiset talent masked a decedent and dangerous personal life that would cause his career to unravel almost before it began.
After a near decade of uninspired play and long stretches in the minor leagues, Richard re-emerged from a haze of alcohol and drug abuse to stage one of the most unlikely and extraordinary comebacks in NHL history.
This is the story of Jacques Richard -- his rise ,,, fall … redemption …. And his ultimate descent into the fiery pits of a personal hell.
Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman Larry “The Rock” Zeidel was called the dirtiest player in hockey -- a vicious soulless maniac who instigated some of the most violent stick swinging attacks in hockey history.
His final act of on-ice mayhem, a gory bloodbath with Boston Bruins forward Eddie Shack, may be the event for which Zeidel is most remembered -- but it was hardly his most egregious offense. In fact, it wasn’t even his most brutal bout with Shack.
But the Larry Zeidel story is more complicated than just a rap sheet of his reckless assaults. By all accounts he was a quiet and well-spoken man off the ice. But what fueled the burning rage -- the unrelenting hatred -- that Zeidel unleashed on bloodied and maimed opponents in a savage 20-year professional hockey career?