In the short seven minutes my co-host Rob Pizzo interviewed Jeremy Roenick, he managed to give us some gold on some controversial topics.
The first statement was a response to what Georges Laraque said in his book – that some NHL players are using steroids:
I think the steroids, I think he was referring to two different things, one, I think maybe in the late 80′s / early 90′s when the fighters were as prevalent, they were a dime a dozen, there might have been a little bit more of…something to happen. I can tell you right now that steroids is not an issue in the National Hockey League whatsoever. There is no steroids whatsoever, across the board in the National Hockey League.
JR then goes on to say that he thinks Georges was referring more to painkillers, though I don’t agree that he was.
If you missed it, last September I wrote this piece for Puck Daddy. In it, I explained that I once saw a teammate’s steroid paraphenalia. I explained that I’ve had drunken conversations with teammates that have used. I explained that there is zero testing in the ECHL or AHL. I pointed out that I never got tested over four years of NCAA D1 hockey. I point out the five month no-testing window NHLers have, starting at the end of the regular season. That sort of stuff.
My concession to JR’s awfully-definitive statement is this: I never played a shift in the NHL. I would have no idea, and he would.
That usually settles an argument like this, but in this instance, JR is wrong. Hell, I’ve played with a kid who used the stuff who eventually made it, so there’s at least one. If it’s there in the minors, it has to be there in the NHL, doesn’t it?
The absoluteness JR delivers that line with reeks of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” (on behalf of the NHL), it’s so politician-y. It’s like he wants to nip questions like that in the bud before NHL hockey’s great name gets tarnished.
The guy who said it in his book was a part of that world (the tough guy lifestyle) more than JR would have been, so I’m more prone to believing his take on steroid use in the NHL. For me, that was somewhat validating (which why Roenick’s response caught me so off-guard).
Prior to saying that, he had agreed with Georges Laraques take on a different matter: Wayne Gretzky wasn’t a very good coach.
”You gotta understand – it’s very difficult to be Wayne Gretzky. It’s tough to be his life, it’s tough to be his business, it’s tough to have his endorsement deals, it’s tough to have his time. He only has so much that he needs to throw around to everybody.
To be a coach, with an average team, with his time frame…. No, he wasn’t a great coach. I’ll say it too, he wasn’t. He’s a great guy – he’s a phenomenal ambassador for Canada. But he had no chance of being a great coach, or being a good coach – because being Wayne Gretzky is a full-time job. He left a lot of it to his assistant coaches, and unfortunately when you’re not as hands-on as much you need to be as a head coach, you’re not gonna win.
And Wayne, he doesn’t have that capability because of his….his “icon-ness,” if I can say that. It’s nothing against Wayne Gretzky – it’s just….it’s his life.
I’ve heard many people say Wayner wasn’t a good coach, but I’ve never heard such a unique viewpoint on why. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it?
Being Wayne Gretzky would be a full-time job. Every time you walk by people, they want autographs. They want to tell you how awed they were of you back in the day. They just want….your time.
Everybody does. Commercials, agents, family, players, investors, hustlers, you name it. And you’re supposed to hunker down and focus on teaching a bunch of guys to play who can’t see the game nearly as well as you could? That wouldn’t be easy, if even possible.
….Also, he was rich, living in Phoenix, and his playing legacy was cemented – I’m sure that hurts a guys passion and ability to put in the extra time too.
All in all, a major thank you to Jeremy Roenick. It was an honour to have a legend (NHL ’94 legend too!) be a part of our show.