SPORTS STAR SPOTLIGHT PRESENTS: BRAD MARSH, FORMER NHL DEFENSEMAN, @BRADMARSHNHL on Twitter
Marsh began his playing career with the London Knights OHA team back in 1973. This London, Ontario native was a first-round draft pick for the then Atlanta Flames (now Calgary Flames) in 1978. He joined the ranks of the NHL that fall, playing a total of all 80 games that season. Marsh has played in the NHL for the likes of the Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, and the Ottawa Senators. In his playing career he made two appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals, in 1985 and 1987!
Known everywhere as a fan favorite, there isn’t one hockey fan who doesn’t know the name Brad Marsh, when brought up in conversation. The second last player in the NHL to play without a helmet on! Brad was liked for his personality on and off the ice, and his dynamic playing style. He quickly made a name for himself as an honest, hard working defenseman who was enthusiastic about the game, and always let his passion show every time he hit the ice.
Now a days, Brad is enjoying retirement, if that’s what you call all the hard work he has been doing since he stopped playing hockey. Two years ago he rode his bike across Canada for a 90-Day Challenge for The Boys and Girls Club. He is also involved in many charity initiatives across Canada, including Million Dollar Hockey Pool and Road to Conquer Cancer!
In between his busy schedule Brad took the time to sit down with me for his first ever Skype interview, and answered a few questions!
12 QUESTIONS WITH BRAD MARSH!
1. When did you first know you wanted to play hockey? Who influenced you to lace up the skates? At what point did you realize you wanted to pursue hockey professionally?
Well the thing is, you know, I’m 56 so if you go back 52 years ago I was 4 years old, there wasn’t the multitude of sports that all the kids have the option of playing now. It was either hockey or road hockey. And so, that’s all I ever did as a kid. I got my first pair of skates from Santa Claus much like many of my friends at the time. You played hockey on the rink your dad built you in the front yard, or down at the corner pond. The organized hockey as we know it today, wasn’t the case back then. Most everybody’s first hockey was shimmy hockey, unorganized, no parents, no whistles, you just went out and played with your friends.
As far as when did I realize that I wanted play in the NHL, once again every kid had that dream. But that dream came from watching Hockey Night In Canada, and playing road hockey. There were always somebody you were imitating from the NHL. I didn’t think about as a career until junior hockey, believe it or not because I just had fun playing and that’s all I ever did.
2. What is your involvement with the Million Dollar Hockey Pool and Road to Conquer Cancer? Why did you choose these two charities?
The Million Dollar Hockey Pool was quite simple; I played hockey, as did Doug Gilmour, we were both honorary ambassadors if you will and we supplied some really neat prizes for the winners. And you know, if you look at hockey and the hockey pools that take place, there are so many different hockey pools and so many different people – whether they play hockey or not, they participate in these sport pools. This hockey pool is kind of neat because you don’t have to be, how should I say it to be polite… You don’t have to be smart to participate. Where as some of the hockey pools you really have to follow the NHL, you have to know who’s injured, who’s hot etc. Where as the Million Dollar Hockey Pool, you just pick your favorite team, or in some cases your favorite logo, color, or if you have a player then you pick that team to win that particular night, and then you pick another team the following night, there’s really no thinking process.
It was real easy for myself to be involved in both charities, because cancer is such an ugly disease I think its pretty much touched everybody in any way across Canada. So when you combine hockey and a hockey pool with cancer, it’s a no brainier to get involved, it’s a no brainier to participate.
3.What is your proudest achievement in life and in hockey to date, and why?
I think you could look at my life, you know I’ve been retired for 21 years! Hockey was a long time ago for me and I’m very proud of what I accomplished in my hockey career; whether it was junior hockey or in the NHL. I mean, I never got to win a Stanley Cup I came close twice but I have so many great memories. It was a great way of life for myself and my family. My hockey career was awesome!
But, as I said, I’ve been retired for 21 years. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in retirement! From being involved in various charity initiatives, planning several charity initiatives myself. In business, owned two restaurants and actually I went bankrupt with both restaurants, and I have rebuilt myself, dusted myself off if you will, in the last 4 years and they’ve been wonderful. When I look back over my years of retirement I accomplished a lot, done a lot, and I’ve achieved a lot through trying many different things. So I have a lot to be proud of through my hockey career, and retirement as well.
4.Is there any one coach or teammate, that helped you the most during your career?
You know people always ask you know the influence, who was the biggest influence, and I go right back to minor hockey when I did start playing organized hockey. Bruce Stewart who was my coach in minor hockey; I had him for 4-5 years, and I think we can all agree when you’re 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 type of thing, the coach you have in those years is very influential on you. I can’t sit here and say he taught me how to pass, or how to shoot but what he did teach me was the importance of competing, and taught me the importance of competing game in and game out, and practice in and out. He taught me work ethic right from a young age and it carried with me through my whole hockey career, and I guess into my retirement years too. You can’t succeed at anything if you don’t work. I was very fortunate too to have a lot of good teammates as I went through minor hockey, to junior hockey, to the NHL. I was very fortunate to be on very good organizations with very good people, very good believers and good role models. So you’re in a position where you’re always learning but if I go back it was always Bruce Stewart that really put the fundamentals of competing into my brain.
5.Why did you choose to be apart of the 90-day challenge? And for our readers who don’t know what it is, can you give us a little insight?
The 90-day challenge is neat, it’s very unique. Unfortunately in retirement many athletes, myself included we get a little… I don’t know if lazy is the right word, but you’ve worked out and you’ve trained and conditioned yourself real hard for a long period of time so it’s easy to get away from the regiment or that routine. I was in the restaurant business as I said, it is once again easy to different types of food, or more importantly you’re eating different types of food at odd hours of the day. I found myself heavy. My friend called me and asked if I wanted to look at a new company at the time in Canada, it’s a nutrition based company. It all revolves around awesome products and a 90-day challenge. And I thought, you know, I spent my whole life challenging myself and setting goals and then working hard to obtain those goals, so I fell in love with the whole 90-day challenge model. And my first 90 day challenge was simply to lose 30 pounds, and I did, and I felt good, I felt better! So then I just kept going, and going and going and to this day, a little over 4 years later, I can still set goals and challenge myself to achieve those goals.
I’m just in the middle of my 17th, 90-day challenge, I’ve lost 60-65 lbs in the 4 years. I’m fit as a fiddle, actually probably in as good of shape now as I was when I retired 21 years ago. I workout and train everyday! I rode my bike across Canada 2 years ago for The Boys and Girls Club, that was fun, that’s was a riot. I’d do it again in a minute if the opportunity ever arose. But the 90-day challenge and working with ViSalus Sciences it didn’t change my life, but it put me on a better path than what it was previously.
6. How does it feel to say you were one of the last NHL players to not wear a helmet while playing?
It’s hard to say because everyone now they just take for granted that a helmet is apart of everyone’s equipment. But when I grew up the vast majority of players did not wear a helmet. So when I made the NHL I wanted to be like the guys who I played in road hockey all the time, the Allan Stanley’s, the Bobby Baun’s, and Johnny Bower. Johnny of course was a goalie, but when I got stuck in net, I was always Johnny Bower.
So when I made the NHL, I wanted to be like those guys. I actually wore a helmet my first couple games in the NHL, but there was always somebody saying “take your helmet off” “take your helmet off!” Like I said, I wanted to be like my idols, so I took my helmet off and it stayed off for the 15 years.
A little side-note to this question, yes I was the second last player but the player that was the last was Craig MacTavish. Both Craig and I grew up together, we played minor hockey, we had the same coach Bruce Stewart, we played minor hockey all the way up in South West London. Maybe its something in the water in London, we’re a little more hard headed then others. But no, I get asked that question and I always obviously included Craig in the answer.
7. How did it feel to make two appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals? Is it as exciting as everyone says it is?
You know it’s kind of, well obviously it was awesome to be there looking back. You think about the games still, and the “oh we could’ve done that, we should’ve done that” or “if we had scored than we might’ve won that game and turned the momentum around.
Everybody always wants to know the highlights of your career and obviously so many highlights, 2 of them making the Stanley Cup Finals, and obviously they end on a sour note. As great as it was to be there, and as great memories as I do have, it is I don’t want to say a sad ending but it still ticks off I didn’t win a Stanley Cup. Because when you play hockey, or pro-sports at a high level the object is to win and win the championship and its unfortunate that I fell short twice. But that’s the way it is. I still get antsy watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I turn the TV off when they award the Stanley Cup to the winners because it still ticks me off.
8. Do you have any hobbies, special interests, or collections?
Not really, I don’t golf! I never took to the game, I will go to a charity golf tournament. But I guess really my hobbies or interests now is bike riding. As I said, I’m in great shape right now, ride my bike a minimum of 5 times a week, I’m on very specific riding program and love to challenge myself and still challenge myself. I’ll train hard through the winter and I’ll go in a few specific bike races next spring and next summer because you know once you’re competitive you’re always competitive. It’s fun you know, to go into a bike ride, and not just ride but you can actually race and go fast, because when you’re on a bike it’s always more fun to go fast. So that’s where I’ll set my goals on – competing in bike races, so that’s my hobby now!
9. How did it feel to be inducted into the London, ON Sports Hall of Fame?
It was really neat to get a phone call saying this is what just happened. It was really fun to be there, because my whole family was there, my immediate family was there. I’m from London, Ontario so a number of family from London was there, my brother, my mom and my uncle, unfortunately my dad had passed away but it was neat to be recognized and neat to be in a hall not just for hockey players but all different types of athletes. It was a very special feeling.
10. What advice do you have for young junior players, looking to make their move into the NHL?
I think the advice would be to go back prior to junior, my advice would be to develop. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and far too often the young players spend time so much time working on their strengths. They have a great slap-shot, so they keep shooting their slap-shot, there’s more to the game than a slap-shot. And so far, too many times I see this in young players, and junior players, you know even some NHL players. The object is to continue to improve and the easy thing to work on are the things you do well. And this actually goes for businesses as well, you have to step outside your comfort zone many times and be uncomfortable. So if you have trouble with crossover or turning or as a defencemen pivoting to the boards well you have to work on that everyday until it becomes routine so you don’t have to think about it. If your wrist shot isn’t that good, well work on it. It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 years old, you do some things better than others so work on your weaknesses. Don’t take the easy way out and work on your strengths.
11. What do you want to be remembered for?
Oh, I don’t know that’s hard. I have 4 kids and I’m very proud of my family. All 4 kids are on the right path to their careers, I have one left in college. And they’re all doing very well and they’ve never given my wife or I, really any cause for any concern. I’m not saying they’re angels but there’s really no cause for any concern. They all seem to be on the right path, and established in their own lives and more importantly in their own identities. So looking back I mean hockey was great, I played hockey like all my friends did I was just very fortunate that hockey worked out for me. Life after hockey, I continued to work hard. I guess when I step back and as I get older and I’m thinking I guess my biggest accomplishment is my family life! I’ve been married a long time, and my wife and I have raised in my mind 4 very good kids, so when I look back I’d like to be remembered as “He was an awesome dad!”
12. Who should be our next Sports Star Spotlight of the Day?
Dean Hopkins- he was my best buddy playing junior hockey, he played in LA and Edmonton, and he has been very successful in retirement, he could shed a lot of light on hard work after retirement!
THIS IS OR THAT WITH BRAD MARSH:
1. Chocolate or vanilla?
2. Dinner or Breakfast?
3. Beach house or ski house?
4. Steak or chicken?
5. Name a fear you have.