Happy Monday, friends! Another week, another guy that Miracle pretends didn't exist. Sigh. But it's impossible to be anything but happy when it comes to Eric Strobel, so luckily you have me to be your informant. You. are. welcome.
+ Eric's father was a hockey player back in the '40s (and even played a handful of games for the New York Rangers), so it's no surprise that Eric was the ultimate rink rat as a kid. He was absolutely obsessed with skating and was constantly on the ice. So it was his dedication that first got him noticed by coaches, but it was also his speed. Read absolutely anything about Eric and someone will undoubtedly mention how stinking fast he was. He's been likened to a dragster and a rocket; "he should've been equipped with a parachute instead of shoulder pads"; and "he had the biggest thighs this side of Eric Heiden." Herb Brooks held a widely-shared opinion that Eric was the best pure skater in the country, and his freshman class at Minnesota (along with Steve Christoff and Rob McClanahan) is considered one of the deepest ever.
+ This "rocketship on ice" was nicknamed Electric when he attended the University of Minnesota, as his hockey worked something like an electric current: he was either totally dominant, or totally ineffective. His style of play was something like art, creative and whimsical but extremely inconsistent. He could score a hat trick in one game and get nothing done in the next, and it wasn't because he was lazy. He just wasn't particularly intense or competitive. Friends say it's hard to get him worked up about basically anything, and he's a very go-with-the-flow kind of guy. Herb wanted to switch his position? Sure, no problem. Put him on a different line every game? Eric would make the best of it. He was always nonchalant and unruffled and positive.
+ The issue with Eric's game was that he'd often be held ineffective at very inopportune times, and the Olympics was one of those times. During the pre-Olympic season he scored 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points in 48 games, but in the seven games of the Olympics he only scored once and had two assists. He ended up playing on the fourth line and in a more defensive role, but like I said before, he was flexible enough to go with the flow, try his hardest and make the best out of the situation. (What a gem!)
+ Eric had been drafted into the NHL by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978 and decided to turn pro after the Olympics. He finished out that 1980 season with the Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester (the one in New York, not his hometown in Minnesota!). But during a playoff game that year he broke his leg, and decided that was the end of his career. Hockey had become more of a job than the fun he wanted it to be, and he didn't think the money was good enough to warrant getting his brains bashed in. Hard to argue with that logic!
+ After hockey, Eric went back to school to finish up his degree and eventually took over the family acoustical contracting business, A.G. Strobel. He's also a part owner of a golf course and spent some time coaching pee wee hockey (where he was absolutely adored by the kids and parents alike). But in 2006 he suffered a minor stroke, which affected his vision and balance. That's kept him away from the ice in recent years, but by all accounts he's doing really well. Unsurprisingly, his attitude about the whole thing is pretty stellar: "I’ll just be okay but I’ll never be perfect... Everybody that is over 50 always has some ailments. We just have to deal with it and move on. I have vision problems, balance issues, and some cognitive issues with understanding certain things ... It’s like when you have to take a detour going from Rochester to wherever. You have to find new ways to get to your final destination. That’s how you have to deal with a brain injury. Tell everybody in Rochester I’m doing fine."
Don't you just want to hug him?! He also happens to have the most amazing Minnesota accent. (Please click that link and watch about 30 seconds of the video. I have it so it starts at the right spot for you and everything. Eric Strobel saying "fart" is something everyone needs to experience.) And I may not've personally met Eric, but I was approximately 10 feet away from him and I can say with 100% confidence that his accent is all the more wonderful in person.
I wish I had a nice long interview with Eric to embed for you here so you'd have a solid few minutes of him speaking (seriously, I'm obsessed with his accent). But alas, that doesn't seem to exist on the interwebz. So instead, here's one of his Olympic assists! (Kinda wish he'd gotten the goal on this one, since he made the whole play. But hey, Neal Broten scored instead, and I love him too. Beggars can't be choosers!)
Also, I'd like to wish the happiest of birthdays to Mark Johnson, who turns 57 today! :)