Emotions and pride ran high among a group of former Toledo pro hockey players who were honored before last night's Walleye game at Lucas County Arena.
Former Toledo Goaldigger toughguy Doug Mahood said he was humbled and former 'Digger defenseman Dave Faulkner said he was excited that the organization was embracing the past.
Ten former players and officials were part of a banner unveiling. Players Glenn Ramsay (Blades and Hornets), Bob McBroom (Hornets), Jerry Badiuk (Goaldiggers), Jim McCabe (Goaldiggers), and Billy Joyce (Goaldiggers) were on hand. The team also paid tribute to Phillip Williams (president of the Goaldiggers), Mike Miller (Goaldiggers broadcaster), and Gary Wyse (general manager of the Sports Arena).
Two championship banners from the Blades and four from the Goaldiggers were raised to the rafters.
Mahood, a right winger from 1974-77, was part of a Turner Cup championship in 1975.
"It's humbling that people still remember us," Mahood said.
He said Walleye coach Nick Vitucci and general manager Joe Napoli had great respect to put on the event that drew a standing ovation from the capacity crowd.
"What they're doing tonight is classy," Mahood said. "That's 35 years ago. My kids don't even remember it. So it's neat for them to see the banner raised that I won. It's the history. I could be dead in 10 years. Maybe I'm getting a little melodramatic, but that banner will be up there forever. My kids and grandkids can come here."
Mahood, who now lives in Perrysburg, called the arena "a gorgeous hockey facility."
"It's awesome," Mahood said. "It's great for Toledo. I'm honored to be here."
Mahood was part of the infamous Murder Inc. line with Paul Tantardini and Willie Trognitz. The trio of brawlers combined for 835 penalty minutes.
"I couldn't play now," Mahood said. "The players are better now. I was a good skater. But I couldn't handle the puck like they do. They are bigger and faster. They shoot the puck so hard now."
Faulkner, a defenseman from 1980-86, said he grabbed a burger and beer at the Blarney Irish Pub before the game yesterday.
"It's a beautiful arena and it's in downtown," Faulkner said. "It's great seeing people walking around downtown. It's exciting. You have the ball diamond and the arena here. Everything is happening downtown. Back in the '80s you would not have saw that."
Faulkner said it was his first time visiting the new arena.
"It will be nice to see the banners rolled down," Faulkner said. "This is the anchor or jewel of Toledo hockey's future. But they are also embracing the past."
Faulkner said he hadn't seen many of his former teammates in years.
"But the thing about hockey players is that you may not see each other for 10 or 15 years, but you can strike up the same conversation," he said.
"It's just like you saw each other yesterday in practice. You get right back into the same routine. It's the camaraderie."
Faulkner, who now resides in Fenton, Mich., said today's game is a lot quicker.
"It's not a physical game like when I played," Faulkner said. "There are bigger guys. But it's a quicker game. I like it. It makes the game a little more interesting. Just look at the Olympics."
Wyse, GM of the Sports Arena from 1985-2007, said the community can now enjoy a special place to watch hockey.
"From a fan's perspective, every creature comfort anyone could have wished for or dreamed of has been met," he said.
Wyse said it was great to reunite with the former Goaldiggers.
"We all have a little less hair, but our minds still think like we're 19," he said.
- Mark Monroe