Backchecking With Gary Dornhoefer
Tuesday, 02.22.2005 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Flyers Hall of Famer discusses his playing days and life after hockey
By Zack Hill
By Zack Hill
|Dornhoefer and his new puppy, Troon, at Christmas.|
Dornhoefer has been an analyst on Flyers' telecasts for the last 11 seasons. He played 11 seasons for the Flyers (1967-68 through 1977-78), recording 202 goals and 316 assists for 518 points (10th on the Flyers All-Time List) and 1,256 penalty minutes in 725 games (seventh on the Flyers All-Time List). He was a member of both Flyers' Stanley Cup Championship teams (1973-74 and 1974-75) and was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1991.
Question: You’re sporting a beard now. Why the change?
Dornhoefer:"It is called a wager, which I am not in a good position to win. I made a $200 bet with a friend that I would keep this beard until there is an NHL game. The man who I made the bet with told me that I have to have the beard for one telecast and then I can shave it off. Right now, it looks as though I may lose. I either shave it off and pay him his money or let it grow longer and look like Rip Van Winkle."
Question: What have you been up to lately?
Dornhoefer:"I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands lately. I’ve been cleaning birdcages, vacuuming and dusting around the house. I also volunteer at a Linwood Convalescence Center every Wednesday. I help wheel the patients to and from the morning prayer given by our church minister. He gives a short 15- to 20-minute sermon and leads the patients through some hymns. It is very enjoyable. In fact, one older gentleman originally from New Brunswick, recognized me as a former hockey player. I’m also involved in an event called Golf and Gamble. What we are trying to do is get groups of people from various clubs or organizations to come down and play golf at Galloway National in New Jersey, have dinner and then spend about five hours having fun and gambling back at the Tropicana Casino. We also have this luxurious bus that will take them home. It is a pretty interesting format. If anyone is interested, they can check out the web site, www.golfandgamble.com.
Question: What is your role with the Golf and Gamble event?
Dornhoefer:"I’m the host when they arrive to play golf at Galloway. After the round of golf is over, we go over to the casino. It is a good day and a lot of fun."
Question: Back to your playing days, you were quite thin when you broke into the NHL.
Dornhoefer:"I weighed 148 pounds on a 6’2"frame during my very first NHL camp with the Boston Bruins in 1963. I should have been a golfer at that time rather than getting slugged by these guys that were 200 pounds."
Question: You must have been able to take care of yourself seeing that you accumulated 1,291 career penalty minutes during a 14-year career.
Dornhoefer:"I got bigger. When I was near the end of my career, I was still the same height, but I weighed about 210 pounds. I’ve gained a little more weight since that time, but not nearly as much as Bob Kelly (laughs)."
Question: As mentioned earlier, you spent 14 years in the NHL. What were some of your most memorable moments?
Dornhoefer:"There were several. As a kid, you always dream about playing in the best league, which is the National Hockey League. Being drafted by Philadelphia and then playing in my first NHL game were certainly highlights. Obviously, winning the Stanley Cup was a big thrill, but it was also a disappointment because I was injured during the first Cup. I had to wait until the following year to really enjoy it. Another highlight was when I was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame. The reaction from the fans was great. They recognize commitment and hard work. They were very supportive of me and I will always appreciate that."
Question: You rank third among all Flyers right wings in scoring behind Tim Kerr and Mark Recchi. Did you ever think that your career would last as long as it did?
Dornhoefer:"No. You just don’t know what is going to happen. Injuries always play an important part of a player’s playing career. I did have some very serious injuries where I missed a lot of games. To put 11 years in was a big accomplishment for me, but I’m paying for it now. There’s a word called "payback"in the areas of broken bones which attracts arthritis. I know a lot of players, including me, who are going through this right now with our knees, shoulders and wrists. But that is one of the prices you have to pay when you play sports."
Question: Are you regretting this now?
Dornhoefer:"No. I just wish I could have been a little stronger at the beginning of my career. My career and accomplishments are something nobody can take away from me."
Question: You enjoy golfing. Do your aches and pains affect your golf game?
Dornhoefer:"Sometimes. I get out maybe three times a week. Now, I need about a day in between playing in order to recuperate because of my knees."
Question: There is a statue of you scoring a playoff goal outside the Wachovia Spectrum. Do you consider that goal your most important?
Dornhoefer:"That was a big goal early in my career. But the other goals I remember vividly were the two goals that I scored against the New York Rangers in the Game Seven of the 1973 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. I remember that I let my opponent get by me and he scored a goal. When that happened, I got this sick feeling that I let all my teammates down. (Head Coach) Fred Shero kept our line on the ice and 20 seconds later we ended up getting that goal back when I scored. We ended up winning that game 4-3 and went on to beat Boston in the Finals."
Question: Like Bernie Parent, you were a bit older when you laced up your first pair of skates.
Dornhoefer:"Yes. I actually started out as a baseball player. A lot of my friends played baseball too, but they also played hockey. I really was not interested in hockey, but the guys that I chummed around with played hockey in the winter. I went out for hockey when I was about 11 or 12 years old in Kitchener, Ontario. I could barely stand up, so I was the first cut on the team. I would stand up, skate, fall down, stand up, skate, fall down and so on. The coach did not waste any time in getting rid of me. I actually started out as a goaltender."
Question: Why did you change positions?
Dornhoefer:"There was no action as a goalie. I got two shutouts in a row. The first game our opponents only had two shots against me, and the second game they only had one shot. I thought to myself, ‘Boring, this is not a lot of fun.’ And these games were only played on half a rink."
Question: At the time, you were a better baseball player and you were the first cut on your hockey team. What made you stick with hockey and not baseball?
Dornhoefer:"Hockey was a lot of fun. It was something to do in the winter. My dad ended up putting a rink in my backyard. It just goes to show you that if you keep working and grinding away at something, be it sports or anything else, you never know what the future may bring."
Question: You and your wife, Jackie, are quite the animal lovers. Can you explain?
Dornhoefer:"My wife, Jackie, is the one that is really involved with greyhound adoption. These are the dogs that are no longer racing. We have four greyhounds and just recently got a five-month-old male greyhound. It is like having a child in your home. The puppy gets into everything, but he is adorable. You have to laugh at some of the stunts that he pulls. Jackie also volunteers for Therapy Dogs Inc., which is a reading program at the Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, New Jersey. She takes Medinah, one of our greyhounds, to the school and the kids read to the dog. This has been found to be very therapeutic to all involved. If anyone is interested in getting more information about adopting a greyhound, they should log onto the National Greyhound Adoption Program Inc.’s web site, www.ngap.org. These dogs make excellent pets and are very loveable. We also have two small Italian greyhounds and two other mixed breed dogs that we adopted from a shelter. We also have a couple of guinea hens that we keep out back. They get rid of all the ticks that are outside. We also have plenty of parrots and several stray cats that have adopted us."
Question: So, are you a professional dog chaser now?
Dornhoefer:"That is probably our lifestyle right now. Chasing dogs and saying, ‘No!’"