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Steve Durbano

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  • Steve Durbano

    Can someone refresh me with the Steve Durbano story ???

  • #2
    Originally posted by Unregistered
    Can someone refresh me with the Steve Durbano story ???
    died of stomach cancer/lived in NWT.


    • #3
      Steve Durbano

      Demolition Durby

      Fondly remembering one of hockey's true villains

      By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

      Steve Durbano lived a confusing life of hockey noise, violence and headlines and died this past Saturday, so very quietly.

      Liver cancer managed what few could ever do on the ice. It beat him up and took the life of one the most notorious bad guys in sporting history.

      A hockey villain 20 years in retirement but forever a household name: Dead, one month before his 51st birthday, living in obscurity in Yellowknife of all places, where he had moved to find peace.

      "You should have heard the noise when he played," said his cousin, Anthony Cola. "It didn't matter what the rink was, when Steve Durbano came to play, you knew about it.

      "I remember one game against the Philadelphia Flyers and Dave Schultz jumped him and then Bob Kelly jumped him. And Steve didn't care who it was, he'd fight anybody. The arenas were electric then. Those are sounds you don't hear anymore.

      "We'd go to watch him play. He couldn't always guarantee you a goal, but he'd guarantee you a fight."

      The fight that became so much a part of a troubled life.

      In hockey, where Durbano was a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 1971, he was known for a willingness to engage. Away from the ice, he was almost as volatile.

      In 1983, three years after his retirement, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for his part in a scheme to import $568,000 worth of cocaine.

      Years later, he was caught shoplifting five shirts from a men's clothing store. He had $12 in his wallet at the time and claimed to be living on welfare.

      And in 1995, he met with an undercover police officer in Welland and offered her a job with the escort service he was running, including detailing how much she should charge for various sex acts. Again, he spent time in prison. All this after eight professional seasons, playing for eight different teams, four different leagues, so many ways suspended.

      "I talked with him a couple of times about it. He knew what he was getting into," said Steve Shutt, the Hall of Fame player who grew up playing with Durbano. "He couldn't get out of it. I don't know why. I watched him, grew up with him, watched him waste it away.

      "He just couldn't control himself. It's too bad really, because he had genuine talent. The thing is, he didn't have to be a fighter. He could play the game."

      Talent on the ice, talent for the night life. The one common thread through most of Durbano's adult life -- a lack of self- control.

      "He was a good-hearted guy who made bad decisions," said Dale Tallon, who was probably Durbano's closest friend when they played junior for the Marlies. "But he was easily misled. He wound up in the wrong crowds, hung with the wrong people, did the wrong things.

      "He was a little crazy, but more than that, he was fearless. It's good to be fearless in hockey. I don't know if you can live like that, though."

      Everyone you speak to has a Steve Durbano story. Everyone who played with him or against him.

      There was the time in Winnipeg, in one of the final days of the WHA, when Durbano was playing for a goon squad known as the Birmingham Bulls. Well, in the middle of a melee, Durbano tore Bobby Hull's toupee from his head. And depending on who is filling in the blanks, he either skated over it or tore it in half with his skates.


      Hull was so infuriated he returned to the game wearing a helmet to cover his bald spot and his embarrassment.

      "By then he was more sideshow than player," Shutt said of Durbano. "It's funny to hear the story, but really it was pretty sad."

      Then there was the game with the Flyers in 1972, where he was taunted by the team's trainer. Durbano responded as only he could. He took his stick and speared the trainer in the mouth. The entire Philadelphia team jumped him and he just kept on fighting.

      "He was the most raucous player I've ever seen," said Mike Murphy, the former Maple Leafs coach who also played junior with Durbano in Toronto, and then with him in St. Louis. "He was an elite character right out of the movie Slap Shot. You think those guys are invented? You didn't know Steve Durbano?

      "He scared me when he played with me and when he played against me. He was very likable, funny, friendly and genuine. But he used his stick in vile ways."

      There was this junior playoff game in 1971, the Marlies against their hated rivals, the London Knights. Durbano was on the ice in London to open the series.

      "He went out on the first shift of the game and he speared (Darryl) Sittler, (Gordie) Brooks and, I think, (Gary) Geldart. There are these three guys, doubled over on the ice, lying there and the crowd just wanted to kill us. I think we won the series right there. That was scary to see. But that was Steve."


      Steve Durbano grew up and hockey was all around him. He lived next door to Jim Pappin, and across the street from another Leaf, Bob Pulford. His father, Nick, owned different junior teams at various levels over the years and owned a similar temper. Once, after his oldest son was injured in a game, Nick Durbano waited in the parking lot in his car and attempted to run the referee over.

      "It wasn't the best relationship," said Shutt of father and son. "But you could see where he got his temper from.

      "I don't know how many rinks we'd drive away from and have to go pick up Steve and get him out of jail. We'd play, he'd get arrested. We got used to that."

      "One time in Montreal, he got into this fight with Alan Globensky, who he was always fighting," said Tallon. "He's punching and punching and punching, and later comes back to the bench and his hands are bright red. He says: 'Look, Globensky's blood.'"

      "I said: 'Nope, that's paint from the boards.' He kept missing and hitting the boards. He didn't know the difference. But he didn't care. He got his punches in. That was Durby."