Frozen Royalty: From Blimp Rides To Breaking Televisions To Waxed Doughnuts, LA Kings Trainer Emeritus Pete Demers Has Seen It All
Gann Matsuda must have gone on vacation with LA Kings great Pete Demers because has been churning out the stories all summer long. Here’s his latest. Great stuff!
LOS ANGELES — In a 41-year career in professional hockey, Los Angeles Kings retired head athletic trainer Pete Demers has certainly seen and heard enough to fill the pages of a good-sized book, sights and sounds that fans and even the media would virtually never have access to.
Whether it was the pre-game rituals some players adhered to game after game, the practical jokes, humorous stories, or just memories of the different characters in and out of the training room, Demers saw it all in 37 years with the franchise, beginning with three years with Springfield of the American Hockey League (the Kings’ minor league affiliate from 1967-75 and 1977-79) before he joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1972.
“Every player will put one skate on before the other one,” Demers said about some of those pre-game rituals. “Some players like to get dressed really early before a game. [Former Boston Bruins all-time great defenseman] Bobby Orr would get dressed at 5:00. Some players come to the rink real early. [Former Kings forward] Ian Laperriere would come to the rink with us on the road at 3:30 PM on a game day.”
“Everybody’s different, that’s what make the job so much fun,” Demers added. “They have all these different things that they like to do. Some guys will take two cups of coffee, put ice in it and down it, just to get a little bit of caffeine. Some guys like a candy bar before the game. [Former Montreal Canadiens superstar forward] Guy Lafleur used to have a cigarette and a hot dog between periods.”
Some pre-game rituals simply do not lend themselves to any sort of comment at all.
“There was a player [who used] Vicks VapoRub,” said Demers. “Usually, you’d put a little under your nose, and it would give you a good feeling. This guy would take two fingers full and put it right on his tongue. That was his way of preparing for the game.”
Moving right along…then there were the characters in the game.
“[Former Kings goaltender] Mario Lessard was a fun guy,” Demers recalled. “I said to him, ‘one of these days, you’re really going to hurt your groin if you’re not doing any stretching.’”
“He said, ‘you can’t pull fat,’” Demers added with a laugh.
Read the rest on Frozen Royalty.