A really nice interview between Wayne and Gordie.
Some of my favourite parts:
WG: You did a lot of things that other people can't do — one thing I've never seen is a hockey player who could score right- and left-handed. Are you ambidextrous?
GH: I have always been able to do most things left- or right-handed so I guess I am ambidextrous. I don't really think about doing things right- or left-handed, it just happens. If I was going around a player I would automatically move my stick to the side away from the defender to protect the puck better. There is no time to think about something like that in the middle of a hockey game. You just do it.
WG: Wearing No. 9 in the NHL is considered an honour. (That's the number I wanted when I went to junior. They didn't give it to me, though.) What has No. 9 meant to you?
GH: It's a pretty classic number, and a lot of great players have worn it, but what it meant to me was that I got a better night's sleep. Many people may not know that my first number with the Red Wings was No. 17 until early into my first season. The No. 9 became available and it was offered to me. We travelled by train back then, and guys with higher numbers got the top bunk on the sleeper car. No. 9 meant I got a lower berth on the train, which was much nicer than crawling into the top bunk.
WG: A lot of WHA teams played in non-traditional markets, where fans knew little about the game and teams tried all sorts of unusual gimmicks to fill their rinks. We saw some pretty interesting things back then. What was the strangest thing you saw in the league?
GH: There were blue pucks, white skates and unlimited curves on sticks but the one thing I remember most was the first nickel beer night at one of our home games in Houston. There were more fights in the stands than there were on the ice. The fans even jumped out of the stands to fight the referees as they left the ice between periods. I had to go across to the referees' locker-room and ask them to finish the game, promising it would not happen again. Funny we didn't get any penalties in the third period.
WG: You played the game for decades without a helmet. Though you did have a couple of serious injuries, that is still a remarkable streak. Today, a player without a helmet might not make it through a single game without a head injury. Do you think that says something about respect between players in the NHL today?
GH: It seems there could be a lack of respect amongst players but I think the game is just very competitive. The obstruction rule changes, stopping the hooking and holding has made the game much faster, and probably more dangerous. The equipment is much more protective with more hard plastic that can be used as an offensive weapon when checking someone. Players nowadays turn their backs to you when you approach to check them. This is something we would never have done. You were taught never to turn your back on a checker, as you end up going face-first into the boards. You can end up with stitches, lost teeth, separated shoulders or much worse like neck or back injuries. With the cycling of the puck and trying to draw penalties turning your back to the play is the norm now. The other thing is in the middle of the ice guys skate with their heads down or looking behind them as they cross the ice waiting for a pass. This is a good way to wake up on the ice with the trainer staring down at you. With the new rules players are not expecting to get hit in the centre-ice areas, which makes them more vulnerable. Still, I see that a lot of the time, the defensive team passes up these hits, maybe even the majority of them. That tells me there is still respect between players.