Just to get back on topic a bit, here's an interview Secord did a while back. Thanks to Jukka Suutari and Ross (darius).
Jukka In the 80's Al Secord was one of the best power-forwards. He had the skills to score 54 goals in one season and also the advantage of being able to protect himself. He didn't have to be afraid on ice, in fact, he wasn't afraid, even at 11 years old.
Al Secord: I was playing defence back then. One of the opponents ran our goalie so I went over and suddenly I was involved in a fight. I was so surprised that I didn't know what to do. Well, the other guy wrestled me down. A little later, we played against that team again and I dropped my gloves with that same kid and I won.
Jukka Secord always knew he wasn't the most gifted player around. He made that up with desire, heart and with intense work ethic. He won the Memorial-Cup in 1976.
Al Secord: Those were great days. I played a physical game in juniors and it was an advantage for me and to my team-mates. Because of my reputation, I got a little bit more room to operate on ice and it also created more room to my line-mates. When I was younger, it was very hard to gain a spot on a junior-team. There were dozens of guys willing to fill every possible role. In fact, one year there were probably around fourty different guys wanting to make the team as an enforcer. There were a LOT of brawls even in intra-squad games or practices. Those were very wild fights."When I was a junior, my most memorable fights were against guys like Bennett Wolf, Charlie Luksa, Brad Marsh and my nemesis Rob Ramage. I also remember a few fights where the crowd was involved.
Jukka As it is in the real life, in hockey, too, there is the time when a boy either grows up to be a man or not. Growing up to a man in a hockey rink was very hard during those days. Secord wasn't drafted to the NHL because of his playing skills. So, he wanted to prove that he also had the skills to contribute offensively when given the chance.
Al Secord: My first professional training-camp was insane. It was the Bruins rookies vs. Flyers rookies. I fought four or five times in that game and I was exhausted. We had a few bench-clearing brawls in that game, too. And the next night, it was the same thing against the Isles rookies." I don't remember their captain's name, but he was running our guys and elbowing everyone, trying to hurt our players. I went to him and challenged him to a fight and I received an extra two-minute minor for some reason. When his five-minute penalty expired, he left his bench like guys always do. I was supposed to sit my extra two-minutes. I didn't. I left my gloves and my stick to my penalty box and fought the guy again. Naturally, I was thrown out of the game, but the Isles player didn't run anyone after that. I think my first NHL fight was against Curt Bennett, but I am not sure. I remember, then I hit Anders Hedberg of the Rangers over the boards and he came and used his stick at me. Well, he skated away so I went to the Rangers bench and tried to challenge them, but to no avail. After the period Hedberg came up to me and started to whine about something, so I punched him. John Davidson came to his rescue and soon we had a small brawl. Players were wondering "what's going on?", since they didn't see me punching Hedberg. Terry O'Reilly was hit by a spectator and O'Reilly went to the stands with Stan Jonathan. They caught the guy who had hit O'Reilly, but there were three brothers with their father and they all attacked our guys. While they had their own fight going, one guy tried to escape and was running up the stairs but Peter McNab caught him and pulled him down, right between the benches. I went and pummeled the guy while Mike Milbury was beating the guy with his own shoe. Seven Bruins-players were sued and one million dollars was asked from every one of us as a compensation. Later on, the case folded somehow.
Jukka As always, every player is thrilled to talk about their first NHL goal.
Al Secord: I scored my first goal after ten or twelve games. I put a slapshot past Bernie Parent and the feeling was just fantastic.
Jukka Secord is famous for his fights with Willie Plett. As a matter of fact, Secord fought with Plett during his rookie-season.
Al Secord: I fought him when he played for Calgary. He looked down at me like I was a snotty rookie. He obviously thought that I couldn't give him any kind of challenge. So, the game started and he gave me some slashes and was pushing me around, so I answered the bell and I dropped my gloves and so did he. I won that first fight and it really stunned Plett. Later on, I fought with him a lot and I lost some and won some, but I think that I owned him because of the outcome of our first fight. When Willi was playing for Minnesota, I was a "fan-favorite" there. The North Stars were always chanting the "Secord sucks" thing and it kept on going for several minutes. Actually, it was great, it gave me a boost everytime to play even harder.
Jukka Secord has met with Willie Plett outside the rink, and says nothing but good things about him.
Al Secord: I've met him a few times and he is a gentleman. We hockey players take great pride about our professionalism, it's a job to us. What happens on the ice, stays there. I have an ok relationship with him, and we hold no grudge with each other. I know, it might seem hard to understand to someone who doesn't watch hockey. It must be odd seeing two guys wanting to kill each other on the ice and later on the same night having a beer together and laughing and exchanging stories.
Jukka During his first year in the NHL, Secord scored 16G 7A for 23PTS and accumulated 125 penalty minutes. He didn't get as much ice time as he wanted to have, but he had gained a reputation of being a good fighter. During those days, the Bruins were stuffed with tough-guys such as Terry O'Reilly, John Wensink and Stan Jonathan. Secord has another vivid memory from his early days with the Bruins.
Al Secord: I still remember when Paul Stewart played his first NHL game. It was against us in Boston. He fought with me, O'Reilly and Stan Jonathan. He wasn't necessarily the toughest guy, but he was very willing fighter.
Jukka After having a taste of the NHL spotlight, Secord was demoted down to minors. The Bruins had too many men on their roster, Secord was sent down to Rochester.
Al Secord: I played four games for Rochester while scoring 4G 2A for 6PTS and adding 40 penalty minutes. I had one unbelievable fight when I was there. I can't remember who he was, but he needed only a few more minutes to break the AHL penalty minute record. He wanted his record badly. He got it. And he got pummeled well, too.
Jukka When asking about other memorable fights from his early years in the NHL, Secord has a nice story to tell.
Al Secord: Like everybody knows, Clark Gillies was a player who didn't have to fight too often, because he was simply one of the best and toughest ever. We were playing a play-off series against the Isles and O'Reilly had fought with Gillies a few times. I thought I'd give O'Reilly a break and fight Gillies myself. I engaged the fight by punching Gillies with my glove. When he dropped his gloves and I saw his fists, I got nervous. His fists were so unbelievably big, and he was a big guy, too. All I saw were his hands. He punched me twice and I went down.
Jukka Secord didn't last long in Boston after his second year and entering his third year, he got lucky when he was traded.
Al Secord: I started my third season pretty badly, and I was a scratch quite often. Harry Sinden was also telling me how bad a player I was and he sent me down to
Springfield. Luckily, the Blackhawks scouts saw me and I was traded to Chicago later that year.
Jukka After his first year in Chicago, he was confident that his career was progressing in the right direction. After scoring 13G 9A 22PTS and 145 penalty minutes he made his breakthru next year scoring 44G 31A 75PTS and 303 penalty minutes.
Al Secord: I was playing with Denis Savard regularly. My presence gave him more time to operate on ice and I got more ice-time than ever before. I played a really physical game that year and I fought quite a bit. I think I fought Larry Playfair three times during that year. Once I even knocked down the lines-man when he tried to come in-between when I was fighting Playfair. Even though I had a lot of penalty minutes that year, I never thought I got penalties because of my reputation. The referees respected me and I respected them. Of course there were times when there was a referee who didn't have confidence to whistle the way the game needed to be whistled.
Jukka The following 82-83 season, Secord scored 54G 32A 86PTS and gained "only" 180 penalty minutes.
Al Secord: Steve Larmer came to our line. Me and Denis Savard were very fortunate to have Steve Larmer. We were a solid line. I didn't have that many penalty minutes, because our coach asked me not to fight so often. Actually, even though I scored well, I felt like I didn't play the way I was supposed to play. I was also told not to hit guys so often. I needed to play physical, and I didn't. It's a big part of my game, to be under the other guys skin. When I hit a guy and the crowd starts chanting, it brings energy to me and to my teammates. I was missing that element. It felt strange. I scored 20 goals on the power-play that year. I didn't play much in short-handed situations, the coach wanted more mobile guys (than me) to play shorthanded. One of the funniest stories I remember, is the time when I dropped Kim Clackson with one punch. One of his teammates told him that I was a righty. Hell, I always threw nothing but lefts. Anyway, Clackson was a real pest, really annoying player. So, we squared off and he was expecting that I'd hit him with my right hand. I totally surprised him when I threw a left and he went down. I've heard that Clackson didn't appreciate his teammates advice after that.
Jukka All seemed to go well with Secord's career. But then, he was forced to deal with a serious injury.
Al Secord: Hockey players play through pain, even with severe injuries, all they want to do is to play. For example, my fight with Bob McGill. I had a high fever, but I wanted to play. So, I got into a fight and he beat me easily. But when I was healthy and I fought McGill, I worked really hard to drop him, he really absorbed the punches well. I always had an injury. My right leg has always been shorter than my left leg. As time went by, my hip started to go up and inside to my stomach and it completely jammed my hip area. It put pressure on my stomach and basically it was ruining my groin. Walking or any kind of moving was painful, even impossible sometimes. I went and saw a lot of doctors, but no one knew what to do. Maybe it was the 15th. doctor I saw, who understood what was happening and what to do. I played only 19 games during the 83-84 season. I was working out to get myself into shape almost a full year. I learned how to stretch properly all over again (because of the injury) and it was always a process to get prepared for games. I was stretching a LOT. Nowadays, the injury isn't bothering me that much, simply because I don't move as much as I did when I played. I still stretch a lot every day, though.
Jukka Secord hit the 40-goal mark only once more, but the injury started to take its toll and he was forced to battle with his conditioning and that showed in a negative way on the ice. The continuous pain stressed him both mentally and physically. His fighting suffered a bit, naturally. What really put his game down, was the fact that the injury started to affect his skating. Despite all the injuries,Secord had a few good fights during his last year as a Blackhawk.
Al Secord: Todd Ewen was a rookie for St.Louis Blues and he was very anxious to challenge everybody. He was skating behind me and challenged me. I accepted his invitation and turned and punched him right above his left eye. I broke his orbital bone. He had the guts to finish the game, though. The fans in St.Louis were chanting "FIGHT SECORD! FIGHT SECORD!" but I knew he wouldn't fight me again. I've heard that he has said that I jumped him, but I taught the rookie a lesson, in my opinion.
I next fought Chris Nilan twice in the same game. He was a really technical fighter. He watched fight tapes all the time and obviously knew what my style (to fight) was.
Well, what happened is that after our second fight, I was coughing blood from my mouth...
Jukka Secord was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 87-88 season. Back then, the Leafs weren't exactly a winning organization.
Al Secord: The situation there wasn't too good. The organization wasn't committed to build a winning team. My injury had torn me apart so much at that time, that it really hurt a lot to play. I was benched for about 15-20 games. I was ok physically, but being in game-shape is a totally different thing. The feel for the play gets lost and self-confidence goes down. When I finally got my chance to play, I got into a fight, which wasn't good for me. Mick Vukota hit me and I asked him "do u wanna go?" and he agreed. That was the very first time that I went down, KO'd. He hit me right in my forehead and down I went. I stood up again and threw a few bombs, but they didn't have almost any power. If I had played all year, I know I wouldn't have gone down. But it happened and I don't want to make any excuses.
Jukka During that year Secord was traded to Philadelphia. His ice-time was minimal, and so were his points and penalty minutes. Secord finished his NHL career with Chicago. He felt inside, that it was time to hang 'em up.
Al Secord: I didn't want to risk that my injury could cause me a permanent damage. It was very hard to hang my skates up. I was lucky enough to get job which I loved. After hockey I trained myself to be a pilot and I applied a job to American Airlines.
Jukka His hockey career wasn't over, strange things happened...
Al Secord: I was playing in a charity game at Nova Scotia. John Ferguson was the GM of Ottawa Senators back then and invited me to traning-camp. I said that I didn't want to go there and make a fool out of myself. Ferguson insisted that I should give it a try, and train myself into a good condition. I started practicing and left flying for a while. I went to the camp and played really well. However, in the last exhibition game I hurt my groin and because of that, I didn't get signed."
Jukka Secord continued his job at American Airlines. The next summer, he was playing roller-hockey in RHI, just for fun. Once again, an old friend asked if Secord was interested returning to hockey. This time the offer came from the IHL team Chicago Wolves.
Al Secord: They wanted me to be kind of a role-model, a mentor for the younger players. I was in a good shape and my body wasn't hurting me. I took a leave from American Airlines and pursued hockey career, again. I wasn't as good as I used to be, after all I had been in retirement for five years. I remember my fight with Dave Morissette really well. We had played in three consecutive nights. I had played about 25 minutes in each of those games. In this particular game, I was near the end of my shift, I had played a lot that night, too. Morissette was playing probably his second shift so he was all fresh. I was stupid enough to fight him. The game was televised in Canada and after the game my dad gave me a call and he wondered why the hell I was so stupid to fight Morissette. Well... I told Morissette after our fight that "we're going again" and he said "ok, fine". At the end of the game, I challenged him but he didn't fight me.; We played Morissette's team a bit later and I told him on the face-off that I wanted to fight him. Puck went into their defensive zone and he went to pick up the puck from the corner. I hit him my hands up and he went down and the plexi-glass broke. I was standing right next to him and I told him "let's go" but he just stood up and skated away. I was amazed at his behavior, he had promised me an opportunity to even the score.
Jukka Al Secord retired for good after the 95-96 season. He wanted to give more time to his family and he wanted to pursuit further in his airline-pilot career.
Jukka Is there anything you might regret from your active years?
Al Secord: Well... I feel sorry about the incident where my stick accidentally hit Chris Chelios's face and he lost some teeth and also suffered some facial damage.
I wish I had given Ulf Samuelsson a lesson. He was always swinging his stick and hitting players dirty. Of course, he very rarely dropped his gloves.
Jukka What are the highlights from your career, which you appreciate the most?
Al Secord: I am pretty proud of the record I share with Wayne Gretzky. I share the record of four fastest goals. I scored six hat-tricks and one four-goal game during my career. Once, I knew the night before the game that I would score a hat-trick. Other players went to the bar, but I stayed in my hotel room. I knew right before I fell asleep that I was going to score three goals.