Jim Thomson (http://www.jimthomsonsdreams.com/)
In this week’s edition of Getting to Know, Mark Malinowski catches up with former Los Angeles King Jim Thomson, who shares a story about a wild American League game that had some crazy fan involvement.
Status: NHL right wing from 1986-1993 with Hartford, Washington, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Ottawa.
DOB: December 30, 1965 In: Edmonton, Alberta
First Hockey Memory: "I borrowed a pair of skates. I grew up in a mobile house park, Westview Village in Winterburn, Alberta. I was six years old and one of my friends lent me his dad's skates. They were too big but I skated around and couldn't stop. I fell in love with it."
Hockey Inspirations: "First was Bobby Clarke. And then...my dad took me to a Winnipeg Jets game in WHA. And I fell in love with Anders Hedberg. (Why Hedberg?) What I remember about him was he had a left shot and played right wing. Just how his blond hair looked skating with Bobby Hull and Ulf Nilsson. I think he scored three goals that night. Then he ended up playing for the Rangers and I followed him there too."
Nicknames: "Top Gun - Rod Langway called me Top Gun in Washington. Horse in LA - from Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky. Because we got into horse racing there with Bruce McNall. Stu Grimson in Anaheim called me Jimmy Two Times."
First Famous Hockey Player You Met Or Encountered: "Dave Hunter and Grant Fuhr at the Edmonton Oilers Hockey School. And Dave Semenko."
Greatest Sports Moment: "I'd have to say there's a couple...probably my first game Bryan Murray had me cover Mario Lemieux. My first NHL game. Playing with Gretzky in the Stanley Cup Finals was great. Scoring my first goal. Putting on an NHL jersey for the first time and being told 'You're covering Lemieux.' (How did you do covering Mario in that game?) I did really good. Until until I screwed up an assignment and he got a breakaway. He didn't score on it but I was benched after that. It was a learning experience."
Most Painful Moment: "Probably when I knew I had to retire because of my shoulder. I had two shoulder surgeries with Anaheim. When the doctor said my career was done. That was pretty painful."
Favorite NHL Uniforms: "I liked Washington. And I gotta say I loved the Hartford Whalers. I thought the green pants were great."
Most Memorable Goal: "Game-winner against Eddie Belfour in Chicago, we beat the Blackhawks in the Stadium. I had two fights (Stu Grimson and Mike Peluso) and the winning goal."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "Yeah, I would have to say when I bit a guy once. It was awful but I did it. It was embarrassing, I got a ten game suspension. Shameful and embarrassing. (Where and against who?) Baltimore Skipjacks. Dave Moylan."
Strangest Game: "In Rochester, I was playing for Binghamton. Shane Churla and a few players went into the crowd. It's on YouTube. I was lucky I didn't get arrested. In the video on YouTube, I'm number 18. I take a swing at a kid. If I hit him my career would have been over. (How did this incident start?) Shane Churla kneed the guy in the nuts and when he was leaving the ice the crowd went after him."
Funny Hockey Memory: "In the '93 Stanley Cup Finals, after game two, the game when Marty McSorley got caught with an illegal stick. We were up 2-1 with 1:39 left. Jacques Demers called Marty for an illegal stick. He got penalized. They scored and won the game in overtime. We would have been up 2-0. After the game, before talking with the media, Gretzky was blow drying his hair after taking a shower. Somebody filled up the blow dryer with baby powder. Imagine how bad the timing is. He walked out completely white. He said, 'Horse, this isn't the time.' So I thought that was my last game as a King. (Any idea who the culprit was?) I think it was Mike Donnelly. He said he put it in the dryer that morning but nobody used it."
Closest NHL Friends: "Rob Murphy in Ottawa. Mike Donnelly. Shawn Van Allen."
Funniest Players Encountered: "A lot of funny ones...oh my gosh...Yves Beaudoin who played in Washington with me. And Mike Donnelly."
Fiercest Competitors Encountered: "Theo Fleury. And I would probably have to say Tony Granato."
Why Do You Love Playing Hockey: "Because it's a dream. It's not work. Basically you live a dream. Greatest game in the world. For the players who make it, it's not work. All the pushups, running and training to make it...it's not work. It's passion. If it's work for somebody, they don't make it."
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: "I really enjoy football. Watching it. I love the NFL. I think it's a great game."
People/Personality Qualities Most Admired: "Respect is the biggest word in my vocabulary. If you're a respectful person, then everything else goes."