PuckSage: As someone who has played in the AHL, NHL, and two European leagues what are the major differences between playing in Europe and the AHL or NHL respectively?
Gordie Dwyer: There are differences between Europe, the AHL and the Show, but the major one is how you are treated. You never have to ride the bus in the NHL! Obviously the NHL has the best players in the world,but there are a lot of guys in the minors or Europe that could contribute everyday at the NHL level.
PS: When you were a member of the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens you got two see the inside of some of the NHL’s greatest rivalries. How much different was game day preparation for those games than playing a team with a less passionate history?
GD: Being part of some great rivalries in the game like the Leafs/Habs, NYR/NYI were great experiences. The Cities and buildings were always electric. Preparation never really differed but obviously the emotion level was always high. To play the game at a high level I always played with a lot of passion and emotion, so being involved with some of those rivalries made it easy for me to get up for those games.
PS: When you broke into the NHL, or went to a new team, were there players you were in awe of?
GD: When I broke into the NHL I wasn’t necessarily in awe of anyone with the TB Lightning but was in awe of the experience of playing in the NHL. I was fortunate enough to play with some great players with the Lightning like Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards but we were all young and most of us at the beginning of our careers.
PS: You got to play with a lot of the games superstars like Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Brian Leetch, and Vincent Lecavalier, of all the big names who was the most fun to be around?
GD: When I got moved to the Rangers, well that was a different story… Messier, Bure, Lindros, Leetch… The Rangers had an All-Star lineup. They were great players but most of all, they made it very comfortable for their teammates to fit in. Mark Messier was a player in particular that I was in awe of. He was one of the best players in NHL history and probably one of the most humble. He was an old school guy who played hard, enjoyed the game and invested time and energy in his teammates. That is probably what made him the special player he was. I always got a kick out of how he actually enjoyed my air guitar performances before warmups.
GD: Montreal was another organization that has many popular stars of the past and present. The fans are passionate about their team and it’s players. The best part of being in Montreal were definitely the fans but even more so the former greats of the past like Jean Beliveau. Mr. Beliveau is as close as possible to royalty in Canada.
PS: Which were your favorite cities to visit while playing professionally? Your least?
The obvious cities like Montreal, Toronto and New York were all favourites but one stop on the tour that I really loved was Nashville. A few afternoon pops at Tootsies on Broadway were always a nice break from my daily trips to the penalty box.
PS: During your career you got to see how a number of different coaches operated. Are their particular pieces of your own coaching style you can trace back to specific coaches?
DG: I was fortunate to have played for some great coaches throughout my career. Alain Vigneault was a coach that really left a mark on me as a junior. He treated us like pros at a young age in Junior hockey, he gave us lots of responsibility, keep players accountable and understood what it took to be a pro. He was a top coach in Junior and has had a great career at the NHL level as well.
DG: As a coach, I treat my players with respect. I am passionate about the game and I want to convey that to my players. I have high expectations for my players and hope to teach them that hard work and accountability to their themselves, teammates and organizations will make them better players and people.
PS: Are their guys you played with you use as specific examples of how to do things for your team?
GD: Peter Worrell is a player that I use as an example all the time. Peter went to training camp with the Hull Olympiques in 1994 in hopes of getting a free new pair of skates. To most everyone’s surprise he made the team, played physical, improved his skating and within a few years he was an everyday NHLer.
PS: As a player you were known for a certain physical presence, is it coincidence that your team currently has more penalty minutes than any other team in the MHL, or did you specifically seek out players who were more aggressive than most?
GD: As a Coach, I look for players that have passion for the game. Talent is great but it always has to paired with hard work, passion and a high compete level if you want to be successful.
PS: Last year you took a rebuilding team to the MHL playoffs and won the first round, how did last years success as a first year coach affect your preparation for this year?
GD: I enjoyed the experience of coaching last season. It was my first full season behind the bench. I realized that I have a passion for coaching. I was fortunate enough to be able to pick the brain of a few coaches in the area with significant experience. Gerard Turk Gallant is a coach that I have great respect for.
GD: This season I feel like I learned from the ups and downs of last season, Every season is a learning experience for coaches as you deal with different individuals and situations, but most importantly you come to the rink everyday looking to get better and pick up the next 2 points.
Gordie Dwyer is a great interview and I think him for his time and great responses. He played professionally from 1998 until 2008. His NHL time was split between: the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, and Montreal Canadiens. Dywer was twice traded between NHL teams, and enjoyed more NHL games than the two men he was traded for combined. Dwyer is a QMJHL alumni who has gone from being on the bench to behind it. He currently coaches the Summerside Western Capitals of the MHL. I wouldn’t bet against this New Brunswick native being behind an NHL bench in a few short years. The Hockey News named him one of their Top 40 Under 4o. And of course like power agent Scott Norton he was smart enough to do an interview with me. For more from Gordie Dwyer, you can follow him on Twitter @GDwyer32. If you start following him tell him “PuckSage sent me.”