Getting to Know: Nick Fotiu
Nick Fotiu scored 60 goals and 137 points with 1,362 penalty minutes in 646 career NHL games. (Getty Images)
Getting to Know: Nick Fotiu
Status: Former NHL left winger from 1976-1988 for the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Also played for the WHA's New England Whalers.
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 210 pounds
DOB: May 25, 1952 In: Staten Island, N.Y.
First Hockey Memory: "Going to Madison Square Garden for my first time (vs. Philly). God told me that's what I'm going to do. I was 15, never played hockey before. I was just intrigued with the game."
Nickname: "‘Big Nick’ - Joey Mullen called me that when we played in Calgary. ‘Nicky Boy.’"
Last Book Read: "The Daily Racing Form. I don't read books."
Favorite Movies: "So many. Usually funny movies, like Midnight Run, My Cousin Vinny."
Hockey Inspirations: "What inspired me? That was it - going to Madison Square Garden for the first time. Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting to play for the New York Rangers. But I believe that's what God wanted me to do. My father (Nick), he taught me about the importance of hard work."
Funny Hockey Memory: "I was a practical joker. I played a lot of practical jokes. Like putting shaving cream in donuts. Pierre Larouche had the biggest mouth, you could hear him coming down the street he was so loud. We were playing the Islanders - you could hear him coming down the hall. He walks in the locker room with a coffee. He saw the donuts in the box, he said, ‘Oh, Bavarian cream - my favorite.’ He grabs a donut and takes a bite, he's walking around and still talking. Then all the sudden he realizes it's shaving cream in the donut and you could hear him spitting it out."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "When I played with Calgary, Dennis Hull was speaking at a ballroom at a Flames dinner. He mentioned me and how I liked to throw pucks to the fans, he said, ‘Here you go Nick’ and he threw a puck at me. Right then, this lady was walking up the aisle. I thought the puck was going to hit her in the head so I tried to catch it. I caught the puck, but my hand also caught a piece of her hair and I pulled off her wig. I look at Cliff Fletcher, who was the GM and they're on the floor laughing. I thought it was staged. I was saying to myself, ‘What the hell!’"
Greatest Sports Moment: "I have two. When I first stepped on the ice at Madison Square Garden. I wasn't crazy any more. And when I picked up a kid after warmups and skated him around the Garden ice. He had crutches. About five days later I got a letter. I was reading it at my locker. It was from that kid. He said, ‘I'll never be able to walk again, but you were my legs.’ I sat there struck. I never knew he was crippled. I'll never forget that."
Most Painful Moment: "When I kept on getting traded from the Rangers. Being the first New Yorker to play for the Rangers - they kept trading me."
Favorite Uniforms: "I'm biased - I wore the Rangers jersey since I was a kid. If I had a second favorite - Chicago Blackhawks."
Favorite Arenas To Play: "Madison Square Garden. Chicago Stadium. And The Forum in Montreal. Hockey Night In Canada against the Canadiens was unbelievable. You didn't ask me my most hated arena. (OK we'll start a new category - Arena you most disliked to play in?) The Spectrum. I hated to play there. I knew it was going to be a rough game. It was unreal. It was very hard mentally. Being a tough player in the NHL - there's a lot of pressure. You couldn't back down. It was really tough to play there. Some teams were beaten before they got off the bus on the ramp. I know that. I said to my teammates, ‘I'll fight your battles, but if someone jumps me, you have to protect me.’ But it was tough, the Flyers used to pound teams."
Closest Hockey Friends: "He died - Herbie Brooks. A very close friend. John Ferguson - he also passed away. Warren Strelow, the goalie coach. He also died. Seems like most of my friends passed away. Guys I played with - Ron Greschner. We talk a lot."
Funniest Players Encountered: "Blaine Stoughton - he played for Hartford and a little with the Rangers. What's his name - he played for Pittsburgh and Calgary...(Mike Bullard?) Yes. Mike Bullard was really funny. One time Lanny McDonald came on the bus with a new haircut. It didn't look good. Mike Bullard said to Lanny, ‘Nice haircut!’ Then turns his head and says, ‘Wooo’ (laughs). He was funny."
Toughest Competitors Encountered: "I would say this kid Kim Clackson. He was really tough. He was a small guy, but he would really compete. Bobby Nystrom was a tough competitor. Every team you played there was a guy you respected - guys who came to play. Team guys. Team players."
Most Memorable Goal: "When we were fighting for first place with the Islanders. I hit (Ken) Morrow and Mike Rogers and Greschner picked it up and went in and missed and the puck came out about 15 feet, I got it and beat Billy Smith. We won 3-2."
Strangest Game: "Snowstorm in Jersey. I think there were about 50 people in the stands. We were there at the arena since about 4:00 and the game didn't start ‘til about 11. That was the strangest game of my career. We lost to New Jersey. That was a weird game."
Favorite Players To Watch: "I liked Bobby Hull and Yvan Cournoyer. I got to cover Cournoyer my first game in The Forum. I kind of shut him down, but he scored a goal late. Ryan Callahan - a guy who kind of reminds me of myself. Not as tough as me, but he plays at 100 percent."
Hobbies/Interests: "Horse racing. I was always around horses growing up. My grandfather had thoroughbreds. I've been in the racing game since I was a little kid."
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: "Horse racing. I played baseball. I was a PAL heavyweight champion in boxing. (Didn't you spar Renaldo Snipes, the former challenger of Larry Holmes?) Yes. And Gerry Cooney wants to spar with me. He's a good friend of mine. We talk all the time. He wants to spar. I said, ‘I'll spar you for one round in the ring if you spar one round with me on the ice.’ He wouldn't last one minute with me on the ice (laughs). One time we had a Mets vs. Rangers softball game. I was supposed to have a homerun hitting contest with Willie Mays. I hit four out. And he came up to me and said ‘10 years ago I'd do it, but not now.’"
People Qualities Most Admired: "As a player, the way they treat the fans. That quality of treating them nice and helping them, doing charity work. Put the fans first. Respect the fans."
Mark 'Scoop' Malinowski's second book "Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew" will be available on www.amazon.com in September. Malinowski is the creator of two websites: www.thebiofile.com and www.tennis-prose.com