Ryan's Rant - George Thorogood Story

Article Thumbnail

By Terry Ryan


Howdy all.  For this rant I have once again included an excerpt from the book I am writing: "Tales of a First Round Nothing".  I figure since I write this blog I may as well kill two birds with one stone every once in awhile.

I used to keep a journal with me at all times, because I never could really believe my experiences and the crazy road hockey provided for me.  I mean this sincerely when I tell kids and parents that the NHL is a great goal, but there are many more avenues out there should that route not work out (and let's face it, in the vast majority of cases it doesn't. Less than 0.01 percent of minor hockey players play even one game professionally, and less than 1 percent of those professionals play even one game in the NHL. ..)  and if you pursue your hockey dream you may end up with a college degree (paid for), free travel around the world (by playing pro in Europe...many, many options there), a chance to meet your idols (in the case of the story I am about to tell), or more.  Even to just move away from mom and dad and play Jr "A" or Jr "B" for a year or 2 and experience the camaraderie and closeness which takes place within the confines of a dressing room is giving you a head start on the lessons life throws your way.

I got to the big show for only 8 games - which was a disappointment considering I was a 1st rounder - but now I look back and laugh every time I think of the experiences I have had due to the great game of hockey.


  Tales Of A First Round Nothing By Terry Ryan

COLORADO GOLD KINGS 2000-2001 “George Thorogood Story”

When I was growing up in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland (and what a great childhood it was), my buddies and I would hang around my basement while my dad had his drinkin' buds over on friday nights and listen in on the music they were listening to.  We then would play these songs in the dressing room for everyone else to hear, so most of my pals had tastes which strayed from the norm a little, as my dad was into classic rock and had a huge collection.  It was the 1980's, and even then The Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were a little dated but we knew all their stuff.  We even knew Buddy Holly and Elvis inside out.  Well, not one Friday would go by where we didn't hear good 'ol George Thorogood on the stereo, and it was usually well into the night.  George was fairly popular amongst adults at the time, but not kids.  Nobody outside my hockey buds had heard of him, and he had hits like "One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One beer" and "I Drink Alone" so the subject matter was out of our realm really.

It was during the 2000-2001 hockey season that I finally got to meet him, while in San Diego playing for the lowly Colorado Gold Kings of the now defunct West Coast Hockey League (The WCHL):

Colorado Gold Kings Bet On Hockey.GIFIt was September of 2000 and I remember being so pissed. St. John’s had been fun for the 1999-2000. I know I was a role player that particular year but at least I was in the AHL, one step from the show. But now with a tricky contract situation and the fact that I refused to go back to Montreal the year before, now they were putting the blocks to me, and rightfully so I might add. I made the rash decision to not go to camp a year previous and now they owned me for another year and, well, buried me. I was a free agent with less options than a greenpeace loving vegetarian at an Oil and Gas industry -sponsored hot dog roast.

The thought of “AA” hockey had never entered my mind. Basically, at the time, the IHL and the AHL were the “AAA” calibre, if you will, that was one step away from the big time. Anybody playing elsewhere, such as the ECHL, CHL, WCHL, WPHL, ACHL, SPHL…..were VERY far removed from an NHL call-up. 

My good pal Todd Gillingham - who was one of those “characters” of the game - was heading down to Colorado Springs to play for the Gold Kings of the West Coast Hockey League, the WCHL. Todd was from the rock as well and had been around the game for awhile at that point, and made a living in front of the net and yapping at players from the bench, getting them off their games. And at 6-2, 220lbs, a presence. Couldn’t skate a lick but had a very smart sense of awareness out there and to this day is one of the top 5 passers I have seen in ANY league. Gilly could make a one-armed pirate a 30 goal scorer just by banking them in off his stick for God sakes.

Anyway, we headed down to Colorado, me tripping over my bottom lip, and……..WOW!! It was awesome! So many pros to playing down there. Flights! Fans! Weather! Free Accommodations! In the American League we would bus EVERYWHERE, and we paid our own room and board. At the time the cities were mostly across the eastern seaboard in and around the Atlantic Canadian and New England region. The contacts were paid per week, not per year, and of course that was a con. But I figured I was safe as I worked hard and kept in shape and was used to the pace of the AHL, and I was right. It was a good fit and a great time.

I think it was about 7 or 8 games in and I was still in awe of this situation. We were in the midst of a 2 week road swing that saw us touch down in Fresno, Long Beach, San Diego, Phoenix, and Bakersfield, and in which only 1 practice was scheduled. The Big Kahuna of all road trips I had had in the minors and it was 3 weeks into the season.

One particular afternoon we were enjoying a day off in San Diego and the beach was hopping. Myself, Craig Lyons(Lucky Leo), Jeff Sirkka (Jumpin’ Jivin’ J Sirk-dog), Zac (Z Man) Boyer,  and Kevin McKinnon (the K man) were enjoying the view of volleyball (broads), the boardwalk (broads), and the sunshine beating down on the broads causing that nice little layer of sweat that for some reason seems sexy but on second thought seems unsexy. Where were we enjoying this view from, you might ask? One of the local bar/pub/restaurants along the strip that acted as a natural border between the city folk and the beach folk. 

As I closed in on the last of my out my fistful of doubles (we were getting bamboozled this particular day/evening) I noticed a familiar cat staring back from across the room. I was squinting and I would have officially blown over the legal limit an hour or so BEFORE this particular sighting, but I was sure. “Boys”, I said, “THAT…..is George Thorogood”. 

Ryan Thorogood Bet On Hockey.jpgNo response.

“BOYS!”, I reply….

“Ya, ya whatever T Bone”, pipes up Lucky Leo, our fearless leader and captain of our pro hockey powerhouse of a club. “We are shitfaced. It isn’t Thorogood.”

“I’m goin’ over,” I said confidently.

And with that I was gone. I wasn’t sloppy drunk but I was close on: enough to have confidence and while still making a fool of myself, actually remembering facts. Had I gone over in a half an hour, I was done (out came the tequila off the waitress’ racks).

George sat at the bar, looking exactly like I thought he would (cowboy boots, scruff, t-shirt), drinking exactly what I thought he would (some form of highball with a couple empty shooter glasses within a baby’s arms length ) and attracting the attention I thought he would (the chicks were swooning). I sat and introduced myself, telling him how big a fan I was of not only his but all types of music and after a well savored drink he shook my hand and wished me the best, and I was pumped because as I left I felt fulfilled that we chatted and he respected some of my musical opinions about little known groups who are legends of subway walls but unknown by most…..

As I got up to leave, George asked me if I wanted to take a drink back to my table. As I looked at him in the eye I figured he had heard the following answer more times than Al Capone during the prohibition but I went for it anyway.

“Mr. Thorogood”, I said with the confidence of Sean Avery after a big fight or goal, “I’ll have a BOURBON, a SCOTCH, and a BEER!!”….

“Nice answer and I will get ‘em no problem, but I have heard that one before!”, he said with a chuckle, and when they came he was only too happy to hand them over. But George was puzzled by me walking away when he handed them to me.

“Where ya goin’ kid?”, he said, mystified. 

“Well, I’d love to stay George", I said in my haze, "but unfortunately…..I DRINK ALONE!!!”

With that old Thoro burst out with laughter and as much as I would have enjoyed going back, I had made the perfect exit and decided to keep it that way. The boys howled, and I gazed out into the warm California sun, in disbelief of what had just happened, with goosebumps.  We had all been drinking, but deep down I know the 'glaze' in my eye was at least partly due to tears of joy and thoughts of the old days with my buddies on 45 Park Avenue which weren't so long ago.


Check Back Every Week For 'Ryan's Rant' By Terry Ryan

Also watch for Terry Ryan's book, 'Tales Of A First Round Nothing'



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Odds

Pick Archive




View all pro picks

Subscribe Here To Receive News, Updates
and Picks Sent Directly To Your Inbox
I agree to the .

Connect with BetOnHockey.com