In this week’s edition of Getting to Know, Mark Malinowski catches up with former Washington Capitals defenseman Greg Theberge, who talks about growing up with a Hall of Fame grandfather and why Bryan Murray was instrumental in his success.
Status: NHL defenseman for Washington Capitals from 1979-1984.
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 185
DOB: September 3, 1959 In: Peterborough, Ontario
First Hockey Memory: "When I was five years old, when my Hall of Fame grandfather Dit Clapper would take me to my games. I was his grandson. He played for the Boston Bruins (from 1927-1947. We played on half ice in the Peterborough Church Hockey League at the Civic Arena. 1964."
Hockey Inspirations: "No question. It was all Boston Bruins in our house. I idolized all the old Bruins, Milt Schmidt, my grandfather, I wore #7 in honor of Phil Esposito."
Nicknames: "From Claude Noel in Hershey - Bergie. Tepper in Peterborough."
Favorite Arena To Play: "I loved playing in Madison Square Garden. I was intrigued walking up the ramps to get to the ice level which was on the fourth or fifth level. It looked like a shrine. There was a different crowd there, they could get rowdy, they had an upper class rowdiness. I remember the ceiling was so high."
Greatest Sports Moment: "Probably playing in the NHL, playing against the Boston Bruins in Boston Garden ('82), where I had seen so many pictures and heard so many stories about. Then I'm finally there. Milt Schmidt met me there around four in the afternoon and walked me around the arena, told me a few stories, took me to the Gardens Club for a coffee, talked old time hockey a wee bit. Then it was time to get ready to play."
Most Painful Moment: "I really have to be honest...retiring too early. I came back from Germany all busted up like a pretzel. Busted knee, two broken toes, bad back. The Hockey Gods shined on somebody else, I got beaten up. I retired in February of '87, that was my last professional game. I later got a couple of calls from Mike Keenan about a player/assistant coach role in Hershey but my body just couldn't do it."
Favorite NHL Uniforms: "No question. You know the answer without even asking (Boston). I have a black Phil Esposito and a white #5 Dit Clapper that I wear in my beer league."
Most Memorable Goal: "Was scoring a hat trick for the Peterborough Petes. November 10, 1978, Remembrance Day. Against the Ottawa 67s and Jim Ralph, who know does radio color for the Leafs. Three goals. And I still have the record, three goals in 1:38. Still a record for the Peterborough Petes, fastest three goals in organization history."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "Would be having scored two goals on own net in one game. Against Kingston with the Petes. I got the game-winner, unfortunately it wasn't for us."
Strangest Game: "Unusual...I played some junior games before Peterborough...I took my guy (Bob Attwell) out of the play. At the time I thought he hurt his wrist but I knocked his front teeth out. A year later we got drafted together to play for the same team. I met and married his sister Rhonda seven years later."
Funny Hockey Memory: "Dressing room activities and conversations, it could be before or after games, especially in practice. Bobby Girard - if a rookie was running late, he'd cut your skate laces, both up the middle. Or a little Vaseline on the phone - the phone's for you."
Funniest Player(s) Encountered: "Denny Maruk was pretty funny in Washington, he was good for the rookies. He could be serious too. Bobby G (Girard), he played for Washington and the Cleveland Barons (and California Golden Seals)."
Why Do You Love Playing Hockey: "I loved playing hockey because I really loved skating and I loved the competition of the game itself. I really thought it was a challenge to have five guys work as a unit and try to put the puck in the net. It was great exercise and it gave me lots of confidence and esteem."
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: "Dale Hunter [laughs]. I fought him three times at junior level but we never did meet at pro. Paul Holmgren. Dan Maloney."
People/Personality Qualities Most Admired: "Bryan Murray was very instrumental in my success. Hard work, work habits. Getting checked and not whining about it. Sportsmanship - it takes a big man to accept defeat. Dit held no grudges and had a tremendous amount of class and sportsmanship."