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Daniel - Poker Journal

NHL Alumni vs. Bay St. Bullies

02 Dec 2005

I met Stanley Cup champion Mark Napier the night before at the Sports Celebrity Festival and he invited me to coach the NHL alumni in a fun game against the "Bay Street Bullies," a group of guys who paid $2000 a man to play against the Alumni.

My squad looked like this:

Tony McKegney
Wendel Clark
Gary Leeman
Ric Natress
Mark Laforest
Jack Valiquette
Tony Currie
Bill Derlago
Wilf Paiement
Dave Schultz
Dan Daout
Lou Franceschetti

Napier played with the Bullies. Wendel Clark has always been my favorite player, as when I was just starting to develop a love for hockey Clark was the 1st overall pick in the league in 1985. He played full out and literally gave it 110% every night.

Bill Derlago, who I recently lost a bet to, was also on hand with Gary Leeman whom I grew up watching play together. Leeman is "only" 41 and Clark is 39, but says that his body can't go anymore.

The game was a ton of fun and had a little bit of a Harlem Globetrotters appeal as there all kinds of pranks throughout the night. The following prank had me laughing:

The Bullies goalie was pretty good as he plays for York University. Our goalie, Mark LaForest, let in a few softies so the guys pulled him from the net and traded him to the other team.

Then when the Alumni closed in on Laforest, they PASSED to the goalie, and he scored! LOL, you had to be there, it was so funny.

Anyway, the pressure was on me as the Alumni have never lost a game. With a minute left I was already thinking about the shootout as the score was 12-12.

I just had to go with my dream line, and told Derlago to go out there first. He says to me, "I'm going five hole coach." and wouldn't you know it, he scored right through the five hole.

Laforest stoned the Bullies first two shooters and I sent Wendel Clark out there to win it for us. He pulls some bizarre leg kick shot and missed badly, later adding, "I see all the young guys doing that these days."

The last shooter was Gary Leeman and he missed also, but Laforest came up big and I'm now 2-0 as a head coach. Sweet!

I had a blast hanging out in the locker room listening to all of the stories. Clark was telling me about how he used to go to dinner with Bob Probert and Joey Kocur in Detroit, and then the next night they'd be pounding on each other! What a strange world.

After the game there was a little poker tournament and I was seated next to my childhood hero, Wendel Clark. A great hockey player... poker? Not so much, lol. He got broke when his 9-2 got rivered by a 5-8.

I didn't win the thing but had a lot of fun razzing the guys as they know how to take it and to dish it out. Lou Francescetti is a riot. He was sticking it to me and I was giving it right back to him, "Coach, we're losing here, do your job!" he'd say.

"Well if you'd score a goal or make a decent pass once and a while we might score!" I'd reply. All the guys got a good laugh out of that one.

At the poker tournament he was razzing me, "Hey, we need a fish, bring him over here," Lou would say.

At that moment a lady asked me if I wanted a drink and I said, "No that's ok, Lou will go get me one as soon as he goes broke!'

I ended up going broke before Lou and he said, "I'll have a Molson Canadien." Everybody laughed hysterically.

I am having soooooo much fun here in Toronto going to games and hanging out with good ol' Canadian boys. The fun continues tonight, as I'm headed to Hamilton to drop the puck for a Bulldogs game.

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