Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Kelly Hrudey Autobiography Looks Back at a Lifetime of Hockey Relationships

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Kelly Hrudey Autobiography Looks Back at a Lifetime of Hockey Relationships

Article excerpt

Hrudey looks back at rich hockey career

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TORONTO - Kelly Hrudey learned a lot in his 15 years in the NHL, from the likes of Al Arbour, Denis Potvin and Wayne Gretzky.

Now a successful TV analyst, the former goaltender also credits Patrick Marleau for a big lift late in his career. In 1997, in his final training camp with San Jose, a 36-year-old Hrudey and his family took in the 17-year-old rookie.

Hrudey, who sensed this was his last year, wanted to ease Marleau's path. So he set him up in his guest house.

"I didn't know if he was going to make the team, but I wanted to make sure that he went the right way," Hrudey writes in his new autobiography "Calling the Shots."

Marleau got the message. Now 38 and a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he played in game No. 1,500 earlier this month.

Hrudey says taking in Marleau was one of the best experiences in his final year of hockey.

"Because my skills were diminishing rapidly. It was really hard for me to keep up and play the game," Hrudey said in an interview. "But the decision we made to bring Patrick into our family really sort of energized me to a certain degree, because he was so excited to be around the game."

Hrudey, wife Donna and Patrick would stay up late after home games, munching on sandwiches and sharing stories.

Twenty years later, Hrudey still gets emotional talking about it.

"It really put a perfect topping on my career, that that's how I went out. (I) made a new friend, a lifelong friend."

The Hrudey family didn't charge Marleau rent. Instead they asked him to do the same to another youngster down the line. Marleau was true to his word, subsequently taking rookie Steve Bernier into his home.

The bond with Marleau is just one of many hockey relationships Hrudey details in his autobiography, which is subtitled "Ups, Downs & Rebounds -- My Life in the Great Game of Hockey."

Like Hrudey on TV, the book is entertaining and easy to digest.

After a junior career in Medicine Hat and two seasons in the minors in Indianapolis, the young goalie joined the New York Islanders in the wake of their fourth straight Stanley Cup.

His early hockey education came from Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Butch Goring, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom, Billy Smith and especially Arbour, the team's coach.

"I couldn't believe the greatness I was surrounded by ... Nothing less than a win was acceptable," said Hrudey.

Arbour was old-school -- he wouldn't let Hrudey be at Donna's side for the birth of their first child because he was down to play. Still, Hrudey saw Arbour as a second father.

"And I had the best dad ever, and mom also," he said. "Even though (Arbour) could be hard on you at times, every night I put my head on the pillow I knew that he cared about me. And you can't say that about every coach you've ever had. …

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