Marty McSorley - Family Values

Marty McSorley - Family Values

Raised on the farm in Cayuga, Ontario in a large family full of brothers and sisters, Marty said the expectations aren’t about if you’re amused, or occupied, or if it’s a creative environment for the kids. It’s about getting the work done, period. You take on responsibility, and you finish what you start. That type of work ethic will then translate into any career, let alone the NHL.

Marty had high praise for his coach in Junior “B”, Mr. George Moore. George had a very open mind, and as the season went along with consistent ice-time, George put Marty (who had played right wing most of the year) on the point for the power play. This opportunity helped in Marty getting an invite to Bellville of the OHL. In Belleville Marty succeeded because he felt that Coach Mavety, had the same mindset as him, in that you can be as talented as you want, but if you’re not willing to do the work, it wasn’t going to matter. In Marty’s two seasons in Belleville, he saw many of his teammates come and go in trades, and it was because the coach held them to a high standard, and he moved guys out who weren’t performing. If Coach Mavety was frustrated with a player he’d let them know it – no mystery or mind games at all. If the player didn’t come around they were quickly traded. No codling or hand-holding. It was what it was.

Marty played the 1983-84 season with the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins, and I asked about that first game, so he tells me it’s on their home opener, the fans are fired up, and it all just seems so much bigger than life. You’re playing against grown men now, things are moving a lot faster on the ice, and even back in the locker room, it all just seems to be on a much bigger scale. As he was standing at the blue line with the national anthem playing preparing to start his first NHL game, he looks over across the ice, and there’s Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nillson, Barry Beck, and the rest of the New York Rangers. I discussed the Edmonton Oilers experience with Marty. These are guys I got to know from my days of working in the visiting locker room for the Los Angeles Kings, and wanted to know what it really took besides their talent, and guys knowing their role, and leaving egos at the door, to make a Stanley Cup run. Marty responded back with the word “CHARACTER” and how underestimated that fact was about those amazing championship teams that the Oilers had. He said with full conviction, that in order to win, you have to have good people involved. He also delved a little deeper into the true definition of “knowing your role” He spoke of the talent guys like Gretz, Mess, Coffey, Kurri, but says without a doubt they don’t win if it’s not for guys like Lee Fogolin, Randy Gregg, and Charlie Huddy. Marty then opened up an interesting thought of ROLE in;

  • What type of responsibility do the superstar players have when they aren’t scoring goals?
  • Are they guys who contribute on the defensive end?

I asked what was an event away from hockey that made an impact on him, he told me the Terry Fox Run, because of the resolve. Terry was a man who with one leg amputated from cancer who had embarked on a journey to raise awareness and raise money for Cancer research. His quest ended after 143 days and almost 3,400 miles, but his efforts will last forever as the annual Terry Fox Run involved millions of participants, and is generally regarded as the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for Cancer Research.

Marty was a man who wore the sweater of whatever team he played for with pride, and defended his teammates when the game dictated that it should happen that way, and he spoke to me about that role as one that you definitely treated with "Honor & Respect". There were plenty of nights when fisticuffs were called for, and times that you might be dealing with an injury, you still sucked it up and did your best. Most of the times you honored a tough guys request to fight as he is trying to do his job. If it is a young guy trying to make his mark - fine I would fight him - but he is going to go the whole way, maybe a second or maybe a third fight. Let's really see what they got. This is all done with honor & respect. The odd night if we are playing only 3 or 4 defensemen I may need to decline a fight but I let them know why and didn't embarrass them. Some of the new young guys coming in started doing some showboating or picking and choosing their "spots" without any respect or honor for the game or our profession. There were coaches who started manipulating scenarios that removed Respect and Honor from the profession. Telling guys to pretend they wanted a fight to draw a penalty or who they could and could not fight. I had coaches who sent guys to fight me as I came off the ice after a long shift. Great, I fought them and then I wanted to fight them again - which the coach would not allow or put them in that position.

For the most part the players/coaches around the league get to know you, and what you represent, you just need to be honest with them. What is expected is that if you needed to decline a fight either because of an injury (rarely) or because of team necessity, you did not embarrass the other team’s tough guys, you don’t start running around trying to rock guys or being a knucklehead. You didn’t give guys cheap shots or pick on the other teams stars because with that you are not showing any respect to their tough guy. I brought up this point to Marty, because I had interviewed several players who played a tough game in their careers as well, and I spoke to them about Marty, and in one particular game, Marty had needed to decline a fight for some sort of injury, and the player said to me, “I have fought Marty on several occasions, and he absolutely had a few opportunities to hit me while I was down, or vice versa, and he never did, nor I, so why would I not want to give a guy some respect who has done so for me. As always, I like to get an advice section, and Marty didn’t let me down with the following thoughts of what he would tell the young athletes if he was a guest speaker at a rookie training camp or NHL Draft Combine. You need to be a really good professional.

  • Prepare yourself to be the best you can be.
  • Continually strive to improve.
  • Continually make a contribution not just to your own play, but the play of your teammates.
  • Honor your responsibility in society as you have kids that now look up to you

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