Revisit the Biscuit: Episode 129 – Luke Gazdic
As we onboarded @TheBiscuitPodcast while the man was boasting already, 100+ episodes of the podcast, we wanted to take some time to reintroduce you to his back catalog. Today’s episode is with Luke Gazdic:
“Hey, are you Luke? Hi, I’m Mark, Mark Messier” – by William Bartrum (@TheBiscuitPod)
Life for a professional athlete can be an emotional rollercoaster. This can be especially true for young hockey players. That coaster can get a little steeper and faster when you play the role of an enforcer. Such is the tale for the young Luke Gazdic, whom I had the privilege of sitting down and talking with on Episode 129, of “The Biscuit”.
From the brotherly trash can beatings awarded for “cellying” a bit too much to play for a historic franchise in hockey’s greatest show, the NHL. Luke Gazdic’s ride would give anyone the heartburn of a large meat lovers pizza.
There’s nothing crazy about a Toronto kid growing up loving hockey but it’s definitely uncommon to grow up with a father who was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres. Mike Gazdic never did play in the bigs but he raised an NHLer along with his two sons Mark and Benjamin, both of whom played high levels of hockey. Luke, 6’4” 225 lbs. battled his way through junior, fighting the toughest players the OHL had to offer at the time. After spending years in the minors, Luke then received the news that he was being sent back down on his fifth professional season. After accumulating over 30 points and almost 200 PIMs in the previous two seasons in the AHL with the Texas Stars, the higher-ups in Dallas then drop on Luke that he’s being put on waivers. Luke must have been thinking this ride just got a little bumpier. Feeling discouraged about being put back in the minors and wondering what the hell is going to happen.
And the phone rings, General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers and four-time Stanley Cup Champion, Craig MacTavish is on the other line. “Hey Luke, you ever play in the NHL?” The blood starts pumping a bit harder “Well you’re going to…”.
Enjoying what you’re reading? Why not listen to the full podcast here.
Luke’s brain officially melts from the free fall he has just experienced. Going from thinking you would retire from the Stars organization, the team that drafted you, to cleaning your shorts and gathering your belongings because you’re flying from Austin, TX to go play for the Edmonton Oilers! The ride takes a loop as Luke realizes he has two hours to pack his shit to make the flight. As the ride mellows, Luke waits on a layover in Minneapolis, MN and hears a voice. “Hey, are you Luke?” The young Luke Gazdic turns to respond “Yes” and he sees a familiar face that any hockey fan worth his weight would recognize. “Hi, I’m Mark Messier.” See what I’m saying? That’s a damn emotional roller coaster. Of course Luke was aware that he was in the presence of the hockey royalty and for the next 4 hours Mark Messier informs him that they’ll be riding together. For any human, this would be a treat. Let alone a professional hockey player about to make his debut with Messier’s former squad. In the last 24 hours Luke has been put on waivers, most likely to clear and head back to the minors, gets called by the Oil for his shot in NHL, packs his belongings in mere moments to fly towards Edmonton, where he meets THE Mark Messier, who happens to be dropping the puck at Luke’s NHL debut. A home opener in Edmonton against the Jets of Winnipeg for “Hockey Night in Canada.” You cant pay for that kinda rush.
Luke stood in there for Edmonton and fought the monsters of the NHL — enforcers like Brian McGrattan, Zenon Konopka, Kevin Westgarth, Shawn Thorton, Jared Boll, and Milan Lucic. Lukes one punch KO of Westgarth has become infamous among fight fans and even has a shining spot in “Ice Guardians” due to the severe risk that all enforcers take when the lace up the skates. One of Luke’s favourite battles from his time in the NHL is his tilt with Milan Lucic, and at that time Lucic was still “Lucic” if ya get my drift. If you thought that the roller coaster was a smooth kiddie ride from the OHL to the NHL, you’re damn wrong. While in the AHL Luke fought the likes of Josh Gratton, Anthony Peluso, Jon “Nasty” Mirasty, and Adam Keefe. Luke took his job as an enforcer very seriously and wore it as a badge of honour wanting to challenge himself and willing to fight any opposing teams, tough guy. He would gain the reputation of fighting all comers and having a “right hand of doom”. Luke admittedly would have been better suited playing five years earlier in the NHL, but he remains a fan favourite from his days in Edmonton. And now as part of the AHL’s San Diego Seagulls, Luke has evolved his game to suit the ever-changing style of hockey.
Enjoy guys like Luke Gazdic while you can, because enforcers like this may not be in the league much longer.