My new book, From the Broadcast Booth, has just been released so I thought I share a bit of a story about Jim Dorey. I bet Don Cherry will like this one.
Gentleman Jim Dorey, a fourth-round draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964, has no trouble talking about the good times he enjoyed in hockey. And he’ll never forget the first impression he left on Leaf fans. We talked on a train one day headed for Montreal.
I think I still hold the Leaf record for penalty minutes in a game and it happened in my very first game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
It wasn’t my fault. Al Smith was in nets and he kept agitating everybody and pointing me out as the guy who was looking for trouble. One fight led to another and it was wild. I couldn’t get off the ice. When I tried to, some guy would step in the way and I’d have to look after him. I took a record 48 minutes in penalties that night. It seemed like infinity.
So I get thrown out of the game and I’m sitting in the dressing room nursing sore knuckles. I’m getting my skates off and I’m figuring, “Well, Jim, maybe Imlach will send you so deep in the minors you’ll never get back. Or maybe I’m finished with the Leafs and they’ll send me home to Kingston.” Then in comes King Clancy with Punch Imlach right behind him…
I thought it was to deliver my death notice. Clancy grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “That’s the kind of hockey we want from you, kid.”
Punch gave me a hundred dollar bill and said, “Lookit, get out of town for the week end because there’s gonna be a lot of heat over this.” And there was! But I survived that first game and went on to live a life in hockey for another thirteen years.