Saturday, July 12, 2008

On the Lighter Side...An NHL Delinquent

One of the favorite Canadian pastimes is hockey. The National Hockey League has had its share of heroes, but also some "interesting" characters. Known as "The Missing Link", Link Gaetz was one of them. The blonde defensemen was born in 1968 (that might explain something?) in Vancouver, BC.

I guess you could sort of see Link as a cross between Jim Morrison and Mike Tyson.

The General Manager of the Minnesota North Stars had this to say about drafting Mr. Gaetz: "In the first round we drafted Mike Modano to protect the franchise. In the second round we drafted Link to protect Mike and in the third round we drafted a lawyer to protect Link." He was was a "defenseman", but it seems he spent a little bit more time on the offense so to speak. In only 65 games in the NHL he collected 412 penalty minutes. That is quite remarkable because it would normally take the average player over 20 games just to PLAY 400 minutes!!! He spent the equivalent of a game in the penalty box for every goal he scored. But his NHL penalty minutes were nothing compared to what he "accomplished" in the CHL. In the 1994-1995 season with the San Antonio Iguanas, he earned 156 penalty minutes in just 13 games, averaging well over 10 penalty minutes a game (keep in mind the typical game is only 60 minutes!). And in an obscure Canadian league, he earned 68 penalty minutes in one shift!!!

Link may also have been the only hockey player ever suspended for leaving the game during an intermission to get a vendor hamburger. But more seriously, he terrorized the teams he played for in various ways: apparently smashing cars, beating up his teammates, taking over the food preparation activities of local restaurants, etc. He even sucker punched one of his coaches after that coach had refused to bail him out of jail for an evening.

Eventually his major baggage (and injuries) led NHL teams to avoid Link and he spent his time playing in a variety of different leagues such as the CHL, AHL, IHL, etc. It seems the coach never needed to bench Link, he was quite efficient at doing it himself. If there ever was a "shameless goon" in hockey, it was Link. There are honorable hockey players, and it seems even some goons have had somewhat of a sense of honor, but unfortunately Link wasn't close to being one of them.


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