Monday, February 7, 2011

Bruce Shoebottom: Good Stories, Good Company

“Good stories. Good company,” says Boston Bruin alumnus Bruce Shoebottom as he recalls time spent with Ron Duguay, the ex-New York Ranger with whom he had played on the now-defunct San Diego Gulls.

Good stories, good company: the crux of Shoe’s story in the minors, playing for teams who either folded or fled to more financially friendly environs. Nowadays, Shoe is busy driving his daughter to hockey games, recruiting salespeople for Glacial Energy, raising money for charities—such as the Travis Roy Foundation and Positive Thoughts for Keri—as he plays for the Boston Bruins Alumni, and answering questions about his hockey history.

“The OHL (Ontario Hockey League) is the fastest way to a pro career,” Shoe, a defenseman drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1983, says. Great coaching propelled the Peterborough Pete to New Haven, Connecticut. He played in only six games for the Nighthawks, yet Shoe recalls how the parking lot at New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum had been built on top of the arena. “Kind of a crazy architectural design, but they made it work,” he says.

Fast forward to 1987, to Portland, where Shoe played for the Maine Mariners. His teammates that season included Lyndon Byers and Don Sweeney. His coach, Mike Milbury, had ended his playing career in Boston the prior season and then signed on with the Mariners, in their first-year as a Bruins’ affiliate. Shoe says, “Milbury wanted to instill Bruins tradition and mentality. This meant hating the Habs. “The games,” Shoe says of the contests between the Mariners and the Sherbrooke Canadiens, “always got wicked heated.” During one game, his coach becoming so enraged. “Milbury threw all the sticks on the ice. Travis Roy went on the ice and picked them all up.”

“Great person. Great kid,” say Shoe, who would spend four seasons playing for both the Mariners and the Bruins, about Roy, the Mariners’ twelve-year-old stick boy whose college hockey career would last but Eleven Seconds. Roy remained in the Pine Tree State, even after the Mariners moved to Providence, and Shoe migrated west, to the Sooner State in 1993.

“Great opportunity,” Shoe says of his first year in the Central Hockey League. “The Blazers were the biggest thing in Oklahoma City.” He recalls about 10,000 fans a game at the Myriad (later officially renamed to Cox Business Services Convention Center), where he played forty-three games for former Colorado Rockie Mike McEwen.

In 1995 (a year after the New York Rangers had won the Stanley Cup) Shoe joined the San Diego Gulls for their first year in the West Coast Hockey League. His coach was former foe, Sherbrooke Canadien Steve Martinson, and his new friends included Chad Wagner, Brad Belland, and, of course, the former New York and Colorado Ranger, Duguay.

Shoe says of the latter, “One thing you learn from (playing with) him is—you get all kinds of things on the Internet—he was soft-spoken, didn’t talk too much about the Rangers and his time in the Big Apple.” Not until 1996, after the Gulls had defeated the Flying Falcons to win the Taylor Cup, when on a charter flight from Fresno did Doogie loosen up and share with Shoe, Wags, and Bellie, a tale or two about his time in the NHL. Good stories and good company, indeed.

If the spirit moves you, please donate to the causes near and dear to Shoe:
Travis Roy Foundation

Positive Thoughts for Keri:
c/o Sue Bosworth
23 Second Street
Amesbury Mass 01913

Thanks to for chronology and statistics.

1 comment:

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