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Biofile Randy Holt Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: NHL defenseman from 1974-1984 for Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Barons, Vancouver Canucks, LA Kings, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers.

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 185

DOB: January 15, 1953 In: Pembroke, Ontario

Early Hockey Memory: I lived in the Ottawa Valley for the first eleven years of my life. We were then moved to New Liskeard, Ontario which is in the north part of Ontario. At twelve years old, I was introduced to road hockey. Then I was asked by the same kids to sign up for ice hockey. I did and believe it or not in my last year of bantam, my team won the Northern Ontario Championship and I was named best defenceman in Bantam. I then jumped over Midget hockey to play the highest form of hockey in Northern Ontario – Juveniles. At 14 years of age I was playing against 18-19 year olds. Our team the New Liskeard Cubs would go on to have two great seasons while I was with them. I left at age 16 to play Junior A hockey for next four years. Two years with the Niagara Falls Flyers and two years with the Sudbury Wolves. At the end of that year, I was drafted in the 2nd round of the World Hockey Association and was drafted in the 3rd round of the NHL draft. I ended up signing after considerable thought with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL. Overall, I got paid to play hockey for 16 years. 12 of those in the NHL. Our parents watched Hockey Night In Canada. Dad loved the Toronto Maple Leafs and mom loved the Montreal Canadians. Those games – you did not want to be in the same room with them. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t for us kids back then.

Hockey Inspirations: I was first inspired by Bobby Hull. He, in my opinion is the best left winger of all time and also one of the top ten players of all time. Then Bobby Orr came along and I was blown away. I’m now 68 years old and I have to say that he’s the best ever Hockey Player/Athlete. I’ve never seen his equal in any of the other major sports leagues. No one has ever dominated a game like Bobby Orr.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: First famous player that I ever met was Johnny Bower at the NHL draft (1973).

Last Book Read: My last hockey book that I’ve read is “Bobby Orr, My Story.”

Greatest Career Moment: Was making the NHL and staying there for years. I was only an ordinary NHL’er but it was great playing with and against the very best players in the world.

Most Painful Moment: The most painful moment was in Philadelphia playing for the Flyers at the age of 32 when my left leg gave out. When I woke up, I asked how long until I could play again and I was told that this was it. My career in hockey was over. Never really got over that. I had always wanted to retire on my own, not by an injury.

Favorite Uniforms: My favorite uniforms were the Chicago Blackhawks. They had so much history going back to the six team league and they had Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita up front and Tony Esposito in net.

Favorite Rinks To Play: My favorite rinks to play in was any of the original six. My least favorite teams to play against became the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins. I set the all-time penalty record for a period which was also a record for a game against the Flyers. Where Boston would start out playing hockey because they had Bobby Orr, the Flyers started out trying to hurt everyone before the first period was over. So when I went to Philadelphia, my game plan was fight first, play hockey second.

Worst Injury: The worst injury of my career ended my career. I had total reconstruction and it took me at least two years to walk normal again.

Funny Hockey Memory: Watching Eddie Shack while the game was going on. We would be down in his end trying to score and he was in our end doing figure eights. The crowd wasn’t watching us, they were watching Eddie.

Fiercest Competitors Encountered: There was an incredible amount of tough guys during my era. Barry Beck, Stan Jonathan, Terry O’Reilly, Wayne Carlton, Dave Hutchison, Tiger Williams, Marty McSorley, Chris Simon, Todd Bertuzzi, Gino Odjick, Zdeno Chara, Dave Semenko, Clark Gillies, Dave Schultz, Larry Robinson, Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Gordie Howe. There’s many more. My memory isn’t good and I even had to look up most of these as they had to be during my time. I played a couple of games against Gordie Howe before he finally went into retirement. He was still tough as nails.

Most Memorable Fights: I had many fights in my career but never everyone on the ice at the same time. Again, in Philadelphia, I was with the Los Angeles Kings. We had a small, fast team with the Triple Crown line leading the way. That’s Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer. Philadelphia started by trying to hurt every one of us and the officiating was a joke. I took the law into my own hands and started to try and hurt everyone of them as they were trying to do to us. Of course that ends up in fisticuffs. I was pissed at quite a few of them so I went around throwing punches left and right. A couple of the Flyers hit the ice hurt and I was sent to the penalty box for rest of the period. Now ask yourself this. WHY WASN’T I SENT TO THE ROOM TO PREVENT WHAT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN? Trust me, the refs were on the Broad Street Bullies side and we were just this small, talented team with no fighters except for a couple of us. As I’m sitting in the box, someone on our team comes over and says to me,”Heads up – they are going to try and get you as soon as the buzzer goes to end the first period.” I had my skates (laces) undone so I quickly did them up and got ready for what was coming. Sure enough, the period ends and all of the Flyers came over to the penalty box trying to get at me. The Kings, to their credit, they made room for me to get on the ice. I did and all hell broke loose. Paul Holmgren came over and grabbed on to me and said, “Randy, you’ve made us look bad, we have to go…” I said okay and he let go of my left hand. Paul didn’t do very good in that fight. He was bleeding and asked me if that was all. I said okay and as soon as he let go of me the ref grabbed me and said that I already had a couple of game misconducts, and if I didn’t go off the ice he would be making my suspension even longer. I tried to get off the ice but a few players and “Hound Dog” Kelly came over. I told him and them straight out that on the best day they ever lived they couldn’t beat me. To my surprise, they left and I was able to go to the room. As I looked back at the melee on the ice, Paul Holmgren, who didn’t want to fight me anymore, was going around and suckering every player he could. WHY DID THE REF NOT SAY TO PAUL WHAT HE SAID TO ME? No wonder the Flyers got away with shit like that. It was a pathetic show by the refs and the NHL. While in my room, at least three of the Flyers tried to get into my room which was locked by my trainers. Again, PATHETIC. They ended up suspending me six games, as the sixth game was having the Flyers back in Los Angeles and the league didn’t want me playing. I ended up owning two records because of that game. The most penalty minutes in a period which was also the most minutes for a whole game… 67 minutes.

Hardest Puncher: A lot of players could really throw them, but I have to go with Barry Beck as the hardest puncher. When I took on Beck, he was with Colorado playing against the Vancouver Canucks. we threw a lot of punches and he only landed a few but they hurt. I was sitting in the penalty box thinking that as soon as my name is called I will go and get him if he’s on the ice. He was and I broke my hockey stick over his body and dropped my gloves but the ref and linesmen got in too quick to enable us to go again.

Why Do You Love Hockey: I love hockey because it’s the fastest sport on our earth and with the exception of the NFL, we are the most violent. It took a special amount of bravery combined with talent to play in the NHL and I was proud that I had some of those talents. The NFL only plays 16 games a year and we played at least 80 and that didn’t count exhibition games and playoff games. That’s why I consider hockey the most talented and most violent game on earth and easily the fastest.

Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: My favorite sport outside of hockey was Lacrosse. It was hockey on shoes instead of skates. Very fast and very violent also.

Favorite Players To Watch: The players that I loved to watch were Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perrault, Guy Lafleur, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Dennis Maruk. There were many more as the league was very talented. But no one could touch Bobby Orr. He’s the best hockey player/athlete that has ever played/lived no matter what major league your talking about. No one dominated in their sport like Bobby Orr did in hockey. He was the first and only player that I’ve ever seen where he could keep the puck all the time if he wanted to. We will never see his like ever again.

Nickname: One of my nicknames was “Wrangler.”

People Qualities Most Admired: Players that I respect didn’t stand around talking about what should be done. They showed us. Bobby Clarke comes to mind when I just finished that sentence. Bobby worked his tail off every period of every game. If the game wasn’t going well, he would be one of the first to make people pay. He would do anything to win. His motto really was to “Win at all costs.” Other really good players would just say “Oh well, next game.” Not Bobby Clarke.

Career Accomplishments: Scored four goals with 37 assists in 395 NHL matches, including two playoffs goals and three assists in 21 playoff games; Still holds NHL record for most penalty minutes in a period and game (67 in March 1979).

Randy Holt record-setting brawl vs Flyers 1979

You can read more NHL Biofiles like this in Scoop’s book 80’s Hockey Biofiles $14.99 at amazon books!

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