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Pro hockey

Nylund marvels about his place in history Michael Booth

Now staff twitter@surreynowsports

Former NHL defenceman Gary Nylund now divides his time between work as a Delta firefighter and assistant coaching duties with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. (Photo: SURREY NOW) easier to move as a free agent now. Back then the teams didn’t want you to move and they made it very difficult for you to move. The only reason I did move is that I fell into a strange classification and somebody tweaked on it and that was it.” When Nylund joined the Maple Leafs as an underage player in 1982 following a stellar junior career with the Portland Winterhawks, free agency was unheard of in the NHL. League rules bound players to teams for as long as the team wanted them and the only


way to change clubs was through trades. The lone exception was the so called “double eagle” rule that granted restricted free agency to players who had four years in the NHL but played less than 220 games before the age of 23. These parameters were so restrictive that the only way a player could qualify was if he joined the league at a young age and anyone who did that would surly amass more than enough games to spoil their eligibility. That was the way the game was played until a 19-year-old Gary Nylund cracked

! This game is the game you played as a kid, this is the game that is played on streets all over the country. This is the true Canadian past time, this is BALL HOCKEY! ! Games are played in Cloverdale, Newton and North Surrey Arenas. Minor ball hockey is NON CONTACT.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University Alumni Association invites you to commemorate 30 years of Alumni and the University’s 30th Anniversary Presented by


Friday March 2, 2012 River Rock Show Theatre, 8811 River Road Richmond BC $oor# o'en at )%!0'm Rece'tion"(%00'm $inner"&%!0'm Tickets available at Ticket price: $200 021612

(First 90 alumni to purchase tickets will receive a discounted rate of $125)

Black Tie Event

see NYLUND › page 46

Surrey Minor Ball Hockey Association

co#' c'$'*),+' +%' /,.+! +%' /)'.'"+ ,"( +%' &u+u)'-


the Leafs in the fall of 1982. Nylund injured a knee in a preseason game but rehabbed quickly and was back on the ice in three months. He played 16 games that season before reinjuring the knee, leading to major surgery. Nylund spent almost a year rehabbing the injury and played just 47 games in 1983-84 before settling in as a blue line regular in Toronto for the next two seasons. Thanks to that early knee injury, however,

Season starts end of March.

Join all the fun and excitement of indoor Ball Hockey! SMBHA is af!liated with the Canadian Ball Hockey Association. We provide players living in Surrey with the opportunity to compete in tournaments as well as being scouted for the World Ball Hockey Championships. Check out our website for more information, basic rules, required equipment and to register online.


Gary Nylund can only shake his head at the circumstances that turned him into a pop culture trivia question. The Surrey Eagles assistant coach played 608 games for three teams over an 11-year National Hockey League career, but his name comes up the most when people gather to play a popular board game. “I’m the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question — the sports edition I think it was,” he says with a laugh. “That’s my claim to fame now — I’m in Trivial Pursuit.” For the record, the question that makes Nylund smile concerns the first NHL player to ever change teams as a free agent. The answer, of course, is Nylund, who signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1986 following four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nylund’s bemused laugh is understandable. It’s not as if signing a contract is the most significant thing the former bruising blue liner ever accomplished. He was a member of the first Canadian team to win a gold medal at the 1982 World Junior Hockey Championships and was a first round draft choice, third overall, of the Toronto Maple Leafs back when that team still kept their high picks. After retiring from the NHL, Nylund returned home to British Columbia and joined the Delta Fire Department where he still works today. In 2001, Nylund pulled two other firefighters to safety while fighting a chemical blaze on Annacis Island. In 2004 he was awarded a bravery medal for his actions that day. Despite all of those accomplishments, however, his most lasting impression came from the simple stroke of a pen on paper in the summer of 1986. “If that’s my place in hockey history... I don’t know,” Nylund says as he ponders the ramifications of his move. “I really haven’t thought much about it. Maybe my situation changed things because it certainly is a lot

Surrey Now February 23 2012  

Surrey Now February 23 2012