Sandy Moger played hockey for the Canucks…in Hamilton. He saw regular duty in 132 games with the Boston Bruins.
And while he’s grateful to both organizations, he’s really not taking sides in the Stanley Cup finals. It’s a win-win situation for the power forward.
However, he did show a touch more loyalty to the Bruins at his Okanagan 2002 All-Stars practice the other day in Kelowna.
“My assistant coach Byron Dafoe (former Boston goalie) and I were traded for one another and we wore our Bruins jerseys on the ice the other day and the kids all booed us,” laughed Moger, from Abbosford, where his son Cameron is playing in a weekend tournament for the ‘02 All-Stars.
Moger, now director of hockey operations for Vernon minor hockey, captained the Lake Superior State Lakers to the NCAA title in 1992. He was taken, by Vancouver, in round nine of the 1989 NHL lottery. Moger, Donald Audette and Michel Picard are the only players from the ninth-round class to play more than 150 NHL tilts.
The same year, Mats Sundin was chosen first overall by the Quebec Nordiques. Vancouver took Jason Herter of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux eighth overall. Herter played one NHL game.
“I had a pretty good training camp with the Canucks (‘92) but it was between me and Dixon Ward and I got cut the second-last day before the regular season and sent to Hamilton (where he pocketed 23 goals and 49 points). It was tough.
“I’m mutual (on the finals). Vancouver signed me and gave me a chance and Boston signed me and gave me a another chance.”
Moger finished his NHL career with 41 snipes and 79 points in 236 games with Boston and the Los Angeles Kings. He played alongside Ray Bourque, Adam Oates and Cam Neely in Boston and had Luc Robitaille as a linemate in L.A., where he and head coach Larry Robinson didn’t get along.
“Those guys (Bourque, Oates, Neely) were awesome. They always worked so hard and they were down-to-earth, they didn’t act like they were better than anybody else. They were the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Playing in Boston was a great experience. It was awesome.”
Kelowna’s Robert Dirk, a Midget coach at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, is a former Canuck definitely cheering for Vancouver.
“I’m pulling for them,” said Dirk, who watched Game 1 at home with his son, Jagger, who played defence for the WHL champion Kootenay Ice in last week’s Memorial Cup.
“I want to see the organization win their first Stanley Cup. My best years in the NHL were with Vancouver. Pat (Quinn), being the GM and coach, drafted and traded for a bunch of castoffs who kind of came together.”
Dirk was a shutdown d-man with the ultra-talented Canucks from 1990 until late in the ‘94 season when he was traded to Chicago, so he missed their playoff run to the final versus the Rangers.
Vancouver won during those years with the likes of Pavel Bure, Geoff Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Jyrki Lumme, Trevor Linden, Greg Adams and net detective Kirk McLean.
“We did a lot together, we were a real close unit,” said Dirk, who drew an assist on Bure’s 50th goal that ‘93-94 season. “It starts in the room, but you have to have the talent to execute on the ice.”
Dirk said he learned a lot about respect and sacrifice, two traits which helped make the Canucks a championship club in ‘94.
In Kamloops, where Mark Recchi’s boyhood home is now offically located on Mark Recchi Way, Mel and Ruth Recchi planned a family reunion for Game 2 Saturday night at Rogers Arena. A total of 16 Recchians were supposed to show and cheer for Boston.
Mark is a part owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, a team he played with in the late 1980s before entering the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A seven-time all star who started his junior career with the Langley Eagles – Recchi has amassed more than 1,500 points in a career that’s seen him hoist the cup twice, the first time in ‘91 with the Pens, the second in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Mel and Ruth, though, are in Mark’s corner for a different reason — because he is their son — and they still get butterflies when Rex takes the ice. Ruth watches most of Mark’s games with huge enthusiasm.
“I think you can hear me down the street when he plays,” Ruth told Marty Hastings of Black Press. “Mel goes out and paces in the yard.”
Ruth is scheduled to have an operation on her foot in Kamloops on June 14, the off-day between what would be Games 6 and 7.
She will not be able to make the trip to Vancouver if the series goes the distance, but that doesn’t mean she won’t hear from her son. Mark calls home daily to talk with his mother and father — the latter often augments the advice of Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien.
“He’ll ask me how he played,” said Mel, a fan of the New York Rangers in the original six days.
“If I didn’t think he was skating well or something went wrong, I’ll tell him. He’ll say, ‘No, yeah, I just didn’t feel good today.’”