Feuds with Harold Ballard, Don Cherry in ex-Leafs captain Rick Vaive’s new book

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Rick Vaive is finally ready to tell his story – his whole unfiltered tale.The former Toronto Maple Leafs captain was never one to hold back, and it makes sense that the same approach applies to his book “Catch 22: My Battles, In Hockey and Life.”

“I always said if I was going to write something, I wanted it to be genuine and truthful,” Vaive said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “A lot of people think you play in the NHL and everything is perfect, everything is fine… and everything has been fine since you were born.

” It is not like that. ”

Named Leafs captain at 22, Vaive was the first player in franchise history to score 50 goals – he’s done it three times and holds the Toronto record at 54 – and rubbed his elbows with actor John Candy and singer Anne Murray.

But he was also a member of the team during some of his darker days under the ownership of Harold Ballard, suffered from undiagnosed anxiety, had severe drinking problems, had his career cut short by a injury, had a disastrous tenure as head coach of Don The Mississauga IceDogs of Cherry, Ontario Hockey League, have suffered more than two years of lawsuits related to driving charges with faculties weakened and eventually went to rehab to get rid of it.

“Like everyone in the world, there are challenges,” said Vaive, 61. “You have to overcome these challenges. ”

Co-written with award-winning hockey journalist Scott Morrison, “Catch 22” details Vaive’s difficult upbringing in Ottawa and the Maritimes, where alcohol casts a long shadow on his family.

“It wasn’t until later in life that I realized the terrible influence that all the drinking and fighting – with my parents, with my grandfather – had on me,” writes Vaive. “At the time, I was too focused on school and sports to notice, too focused on just trying to get through my childhood.”

He says he left Prince Edward Island as a teenager and navigated the heavy drinking culture of hockey in the 1970s and 1980s. He is not afraid to name names and does not pulls no punches.

“They know full well what happened,” Vaive replied when asked if he expected a comeback after the book came out on Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone should be upset about this.

“If so, too bad. “

The Ballard years

He talks about his surprise at receiving the ‘C’ in Toronto, registering a franchise record of 54 goals in the same season when he was still just 22 – the book title follows, his No. 22 jersey. and a catch-22 issue of situations he found himself in throughout his life – and many other trivia from the Ballard years.

Those stories in particular range from a head shake and teeth grinding, to an infamous team photo involving owner’s hapless dog, TC Puck.

The cover of “Catch 22: My Battles, In Hockey & Life” by Rick Vaive and Scott Morrison. (Penguin Random House Canada / HO / The Canadian Press)

Ballard would criticize his captain in the media, but Vaive said the two rarely speak.

“His goal was to be on the front page of the sports section every day,” said Vaive. “We just took it with a grain of salt.

“He was a jerk and he was cheap. You lived with it. It sucked because he was the main reason we weren’t having success. It was frustrating. ”

And Vaive’s exit from Toronto via trade in 1987 after being removed as captain the previous season still stings because of what might have been at its peak, and the success the franchise enjoyed in the early years. 1990 after Ballard’s death.

“It hurts,” Vaive said. “They changed things. To this day, this is one of those things that you wish you could have been a part of.

Feud with Don Cherry

Vaive, who has been married to his wife Joyce for almost 40 years, has two grown sons and welcomed her first grandchild last year, eventually became a coach after retiring at 33, but not before d ‘trying to join the Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning when the NHL grew in 1992.

Born in the nation’s capital, Vaive believed the fit would have been perfect. He admits it was a mistake not to have an agent back then, but he says dysfunctional senators never even bothered to call him back.

“I’m pretty sure I could have scored between 20 and 30 goals a year, helped some youngsters and hopefully started the franchise,” Vaive said. ” But that did not work. ”

Speaking of things that went wrong, there was Vaive’s infamous stretch with the IceDogs after a successful workout in the pro ranks. The IceDogs have won just three games in Vaive’s lone season behind the bench.

Vaive has nothing but good things to say about its junior players. The team was just not good.

Cherry, the famous hockey broadcaster, is another story.

“It was frustrating,” Vaive said. “Especially when you receive phone messages from one of your owners [Cherry] of the night before saying, “Another loss. You cannot train a [expletive] peewee team. «’

Overcome the alcohol problem

Alcohol was a lingering problem for Vaive who eventually hit a tipping point during his impaired driving trial following a traffic stop north of Toronto in July 2009. He was eventually acquitted, but the process has taken its toll.

“The toughest two years of my life,” Vaive said. “Every time you went to court, it was on the front page. I had no job, no appearances. And then, of course, the alcohol consumption got worse.

He subsequently recognized the problem, sought help, and is now trying to counsel others.

“It’s something that I’m proud to have been able to overcome,” Vaive said.

Not the type to hold a grudge, it gnaws at him not to be seen the same way as the other Leafs greats. The franchise retired the numbers worn by 16 players in 2016, but No.22 was not one of them.

“It’s not something I wake up and think about every day,” said Vaive, who ranks fifth in goals and 10th in all-time points for Toronto despite having played just eight seasons in the season. blue and white. “They ask the wrong question if they ask themselves’ Why? ”

“The question should be” Why not? ”

He remains hopeful, but does not hold his breath on this last chapter.

“If that happens, I’d like to be young enough to enjoy it,” Vaive said. “It would be an incredible honor. “

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