Dennis Maruk: In Conversation

Having the opportunity to speak with Dennis Maruk about his involvement in the “Play for a Cure” event in Windsor was special for me. I say that because Dennis wasn’t just a cold call to a celebrity that I had only read about. Way back when, from 1973-1975, we were teammates with the London Knights of the OHL. It was wonderful catching up with one the all-time great London Knights – and for that matter, an all time NHL great as well.
As a rookie, I vividly remember watching from the Knight’s bench as this diminutive centreman, all 5’8” of him, undressed a defenceman during an exhibition game in Peterborough, finishing the play with an incredible goal. I looked at my left winger at the time, the late Paul Nicholson, and said “I’ve never seen that move done before. WOW”. He looked at me, smiled and stated, “Just wait kid – you ain’t seen nothin yet”. And of course, he was right. Dennis was as gifted a player as I ever played with or against. The great 18th century British politician, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, once noted that “Talent does what it can – genius does what it must”. Having watched Dennis from ice level during both games and practices, this much I know. In the case of Dennis Maruk, he “did what he must”, an instinctual player who showed himself a genius on the ice during a remarkable hockey journey.
And that journey isn’t over quite yet.
“I still play between 60-70 games per year, most of them in a fundraising capacity, and I enjoy every minute of it” noted the former 60 goal scorer with the Washington Capitols. This despite undergoing quadruple bypass surgery early in 2017.
“Our era as hockey players was one of survival. It was tough hockey that toughened all of us, so coming back from the heart surgery is just something that had to be done. I feel great, and playing all that hockey has helped me recover my strength and stamina.”
Dennis has unfortunately witnessed the scourge of cancer up close and personal. His father succumbed to the disease, and he has had many friends who have had to deal with the hardships associated with a diagnosis of cancer. So, for Dennis, coming back to the Windsor area to participate in the Play for a Cure event makes perfect sense.
“We had some great games back in the day between the Knights and the Spitfires, and I am happy to be in the area playing once again. I’m hopeful I won’t get booed this time around! All the participants are going to have a wonderful experience while helping raise some much-needed funds for cancer research. Hats off to Jeff (Casey) and the organizing group responsible for making the “The Play for a Cure” event a reality. It is going to be a mainstay in this community for years to come.”
Thanks to my old teammate, Dennis Maruk, for generously lending his time and considerable talents to this worthwhile cause.

 

Vern Stenlund

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