Former Bruin center Derek Sanderson recently talked to Barstool Sports’ Spittin Chiclets Podcast. The interview was released on the show’s Monday episode.
Sanderson played in 13 NHL seasons, with one year in the WHA. In 598 NHL contests he racked up 202 goals, 250 assists, and 911 penalty minutes. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1968 as the NHL’s best rookie. He spent nine years with the Bruins, where he helped Boston win The Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. He also assisted on the most famous goal in hockey history. He was an agitator, a competitor, and an entertainer.
Sanderson was quite the character off the ice. He started nightclubs with “Broadway Joe” Namath. He married a former Playboy Bunny. He signed the most lucrative contract in professional sports when he joined the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association in 1972. The deal was for $2.65 million. He has also been open during his retirement regarding the mistakes he made.
In this interview Sanderson described his business relationship with NY Jets quarterback Joe Namath. Sanderson said Namath was, “in for a good time and that was it.” Sanderson chuckled and continued saying, “he was not in there for a long time.”
Sanderson was asked what a regular Saturday night with Namath was. He said those nights would were, “absolutely insane.” Sanderson mentioned that Namath would lead the way and he would follow his lead.
Sanderson also touched on what it was like to be a part of the Big Bad Bruins of the 1970’s. Sanderson recalled giving the puck to Orr in overtime of Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. This was right before Orr soared into history and became immortalized in every Boston sports bar for eternity.
“I knew Bobby (would) give it to me and I knew he would jump in from the point, cause he always did cause he was that fast, that quick,” Sanderson explained. He mentioned how he went behind the Blues’ net after missing wide on a shot attempt. Orr corralled the puck, gave it back to Sanderson and then took off for the front of the net.
“It’s a very simple play, you do it a lot, give and go,” Sanderson said. “And that was it. And I saw it go through (the goaltender’s) legs and I said, ‘holy we just won The Stanley Cup.’”
Sanderson recalled that many fans swarmed the ice. One spectator in particular was coming right for him. “I catch him out of the corner of my eye,” Sanderson remembered. “And I just drop my shoulder into him. It’s my dad.” Sanderson laughed while telling this story. As he was helping his dad off the ice, his dad tells him, “that’s the only time you hit anybody in the whole series.”
Sanderson described the first time he played against “Mr. Hockey”. Gordie Howe drilled Sanderson a few times, and that got under his skin. Sanderson later cross checked Howe in the neck while they were racing for the puck on a potential icing. Howe crashed into the boards head first. Sanderson’s first thought was, “oh my God, I killed Gordie Howe.” Sanderson said Howe and him continued their war for five years after that night.
He also described the difficulties that came with signing a massive contract as a professional athlete. “I was the first player to understand what big money was,” Sanderson said. “I’m making more than Namath, more than Orr.” He admitted he did not handle having that amount of money well.
The hosts made it clear they want Sanderson on again, even after that interview, which was over an hour. Sanderson at 73 still has plenty of charisma and storytelling touch.
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