Alumni Reunion: Metro Prystai
All Star center played for Red Wings from 1950-54 and '55-58
Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
Oh yeah, I still talk to Ted (Lindsay) ever once in a while, and still talk to Marty Pavelich. … I get Christmas cards from some of the guys, and send them to the guys.
Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
(Nicklas) Lidstrom is one of them. There’s quite a bit of similarities between Nick and Doug Harvey, who I played against. He would get you one way or another, force you wide and put you into the boards.
What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
I would say ending up in first-place for all of those years. But that ’52 team was wonderful. We had a terrific team. That (Terry) Sawchuk just closed the door; not a single goal scored on us in Detroit in the playoffs. Nothing!
Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
Gordie was pretty tough. Not many guys could touch him, you know.
Who was the funniest?
I’m not really sure. Gordie was a lot of fun.
Who had the biggest heart?
I would say Lindsay. He was a like a bear in a China shop. It didn’t matter. If you were out there with Teddy, you know that he was out there and always backing you. If you were getting the worst of it, he would get right in there and try to get you out of there. He was a great teammate.
What was your favorite restaurant in metro Detroit?
We ate at a little restaurant right as you got out of Ma Shaw’s at the corner that was owned by Greeks. We ate a lot of our meals there. It was right on Grand River, across from a gas station. I forget the name of it, but they treated us real good.
How has the NHL changed since you played?
I think it’s a lot dirtier than it was. I think these guys make too much money and want to kill one another. We didn’t have the injuries that they have today. I think we dressed the same 15 guys every game. They can’t do that today.
Boston were tough at times. They had that big line of Milt Schmidt, (Woody) Dumart and (Bobby) Bauer. Montreal were always tough, but we enjoyed playing against Montreal. We wanted to beat them all of the time.
Who did you sit next to in the dressing room?
I sat next to Sawchuk. He was a little moody, but he and I got along. We roomed together. He was a quiet guy, who would bugger off at times, get lost almost. But he and I got along real well.
What do you love most about the game?
I like that it’s pretty tough. You have to be in excellent shape to play the game. It’s terrific to watch because of the fast pace.
Who had the greatest influence on your career?
I would say, probably my mother. I can remember I went to a Catholic school in Yorkton, and the guys came down to pick me up and wanted me to go to Moose Jaw to play junior hockey there. I didn’t know junior hockey from any hockey. I just played locally. They came to the school – where it was Christian Brothers – to interview me because they had heard of me. The brother said, ‘Don’t bother with him, his mother won’t let him go.’ We lived in an old log house and they came over and talked to my mother. She said, ‘OK, you can take him, but you can’t pay him too much money, and he has to go to church and to school.’ And away I went.
What advice would you give to kids playing today?
I’ve said that this is a terrific thing to do, but you have to look after yourself, and listen to people. When I was a kid and the coach told me something, I listened.