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Hockey Q and A: 'Chico' dishes out hockey wisdom

This is a milestone time of year for Glenn "Chico" Resch, a former National Hockey League goaltender who lives in Brainerd during the off-season when he's not doing radio broadcasts for the New Jersey Devils.

Glenn "Chico" Resch remains involved with the NHL as a radio analyst for the New Jersery Devils. He lives in Brainerd during the off-season.PHOTO BY PETE MOHS
Glenn "Chico" Resch remains involved with the NHL as a radio analyst for the New Jersey Devils. He lives in Brainerd during the off-season.PHOTO BY PETE MOHS

This is a milestone time of year for Glenn "Chico" Resch, a former National Hockey League goaltender who lives in Brainerd during the off-season when he's not doing radio broadcasts for the New Jersey Devils.

It was 40 seasons ago this spring that Resch won the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Islanders. And it was 45 seasons ago that Resch, a rookie goaltender with the Islanders, helped spark one of the most memorable NHL playoff series comebacks against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Besides compiling 224 victories as an NHL goaltending, the 70-year-old Resch has been an assistant coach, television and radio analyst and ambassador for community relations. Resch took time last week to talk about his hockey memories while on a return trip back to Brainerd after the Devils' season ended.

 

Q: What's your favorite NHL playoff memory?

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CR: It had to be my rookie year (1974-75 season) for a couple of reasons. Playing in the NHL was a new and exciting time in my life because it was a life-long dream, even though I was an average goalie at the (University of Minnesota-Duluth) and I never expected to play in the NHL. Playing in the NHL was over-the-top exciting, but then in the first round of the playoffs, we were trailing the series 3-0 against Pittsburgh. I hadn't played (goalie) yet, but that was okay because I was a rookie. The coach decided to give me a try, and we won three straight games to force a seventh game in Pittsburgh. I was really nervous, and we won 1-0. I'm thinking, 'I just helped the Islanders come back from three games down.' Even to this day, I haven't figured it out. The next round was against Philadelphia we were again down in the series 3-0, and came back to force Game 7, which we did lose. That loss was disappointing, but that playoff experience was my favorite memory. The second most memorable moment was winning the Stanley Cup with the Islanders (1979-80).

 

Q: Why are the NHL playoffs special?

 

CR: The playoffs are a whole different world. The playoffs are a defined moment in time where you can measure your team's success with every goal. Any moment can lead to a momentum change (in a series), so everything is so scrutinized. The intense focus of knowing that in a seven-game series you were either successful or you choked. The other thing is the Stanley Cup trophy, a silver chalice that is bigger than life. It's amazing to see the Stanley Cup on TV, and think that I once had (the Stanley Cup) at my house in Brainerd.

 

Q: What were the best NHL cities to visit?

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CR: Pittsburgh is the most special. I love everything about Pittsburgh from the fans to the city. When I was growing up, The Forum in Montreal was special because of its history. Montreal is still regarded as hockey town for the world while Detroit is hockey town USA. Minnesota is the best hockey state, although everyone on Long Island also follows the Islanders. I would say Minnesota is third behind Montreal and Toronto for dedicated fans and hockey atmosphere.

 

Q: Who was your most unique NHL teammate?

 

CR: Billy Smith won four Stanley Cups as a goalie, but he was also my most unique teammate. He broke almost all the rules of what you think you have to do to be a successful player. His mechanics were perfect, but he didn't like to train or warm up before games. He also didn't like the fans or the media, and he often spoke the truth without using any diplomacy. I once asked him 'what was his motivation?' He said that before the game started, he would pick out one guy from the other team and get mad at him. That anger motivated him. I did see him recently at an autograph signing. He's changed because he was talking with the fans.

 

Q: Are you happy to still be involved with the NHL?

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CR: You're fortunate at my age when you still receive a paycheck with an NHL team logo on it. I still enjoy what I do. I did television (commentary) for the Devils for many years, then I took some time off. I came back two years ago to do radio and I like it. I can't wait to get back (to New Jersey) next fall with all the excitement of the Devils having the first draft pick.

 

Q: What were your other career options if hockey didn't work out?

 

CR: I did get my teaching degree, but I don't know if that would have worked out because I didn't have confidence. I almost had a nervous breakdown when I was student teaching at Hermantown. I knew I was going to do something physical (for a career). I thought about being a mailman or work in a meat packing house like my dad. I didn't think I had many options, so maybe that's why I made the NHL. I thought I would give the minor leagues a try, and I finally made it to the NHL. My wife, Diane, was good for me. She was giving me advice and encouragement because there's only so much you can talk about with your teammates. If you were struggling and not playing well, you can't sound too insecure (when talking with teammates).

 

Q: How did you become a positive person?

 

CR: I've learned to observe people and find out why they are successful. Then I take the best points of those people, and build my good habits. I was always negative and shy, and afraid of new situations. That's where the spiritual part of my life helped me. It was a life-changing experience when I became a Christian at 32 (years old). I saw the rewards that people who were positive experienced. I quit worrying and being negative, and that gave me inner peace.

 

Q: As a UMD graduate, what did you think of the Bulldogs defending their NCAA men's hockey title?

 

CR: I watched all of the college playoff games, and (UMD) was so good. Coach Scott Sandelin's team plays like the Islanders. They don't give you much and they don't break down at critical times. (UMD) controlled almost every game they played. This is the golden age of the Bulldogs. They have eight to 10 players in the NHL right now.

 

Q: What do the Minnesota Wild need to get back into the playoffs?

 

CR: The Wild need one or two terrific, young franchise players to build their team around. They don't have one or two impact generational players. They just missed an opportunity to turn it around with the lottery. I work for the Devils, and they just won the lottery to have the top pick. There's so much excitement now in New Jersey because they will have a centerpiece for the future. If a team doesn't get the top pick, then they need to hit a home run where ever they draft in the first round. They have to find a diamond in the rough like the Islanders did with the 16th pick (2015 draft) when they took Mathew Barzal (who had 62 points this season). The Wild do have a great fan base, they just need someone to build around for the future.

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