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Catching Up with Courts

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Since retiring in November 1999, former Blues forward Geoff Courtnall spends most of his time living in Vancouver Island. Over the course of a 17-year playing career, Courtnall recorded 799 points in 1049 games. He recently took a few minutes to chat with St. Louis Blues Online to discuss the Stanley Cup playoffs, his hobbies, his logging business and more.

Geoff Courtnall played in two stints with the Blues before retiring in November 1999 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
STLOUISBLUES.COM: How much did you pay attention to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and did they play out the way you expected them to?

GEOFF COURTNALL: Yep. I think the West teams are pretty strong. I expected (Anaheim) to be a strong contender for sure. I think their defense is so solid and they’ve got good goaltending and they have some great young forwards. I didn’t expect them to win, but I think as the playoffs went on, they seemed to improve a lot.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: It’s hard to go wrong with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on the blueline.

GC: Yeah, those two guys are obviously the best two (defenseman) in the league.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: How do you feel about the state of the game today? Do you like the rule changes made after the lockout, or do you prefer the game the way it was played when you were in your prime?

GC: I think it has taken time for everybody to adjust, but I think now, with the rules in effect for the hooking and holding, I think that’s made a big difference for the speed of the game. You’re going to see a lot better skill from the guys who can skate and it gives them a little bit more room to make plays.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: How much hockey do you play these days? Do you skate often or play in a recreational league?

GC: No, I just coach. I don’t play at all. I coach young kids in Victoria, 10-year-olds. It’s a great age, it’s great to watch them improve and they have fun at that age.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: Are there any current or former Blues that you regularly keep in contact with?

GC: I talk to Marc Bergevin a lot. Kelly Chase, I talk to Al MacInnis a little bit, too. That’s about it.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: Tell us about the fish you caught on your recent fishing trip. Honestly, how big was it?

GC: It was a 46-pound king salmon. I love to fish. I fish a lot in June and it’s a really good month, the fish are running. That salmon fought like crazy, it took probably 45 minutes to get it in. But it’s exciting. It’s a great fish to catch because they take out so much line and they fight right to the end. They’re real strong.

Courtnall enjoys fishing in his free time. He recently caught this king salmon, which weighed in at 46 lbs.
STLOUISBLUES.COM: You own a logging company. How did that come about?

GC: We started buying land in [British Columbia]. and the first piece we bought was 6,000 acres. We logged that. That’s how I got into the business and got started on it.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: Your son, Justin Courtnall, plays hockey and is eligible for the NHL Draft this year.

GC: Yeah. Justin played in the B.C. Juniors this year and was ranked in Central Scouting this year. There’s talk that he’s going to get drafted this year, but who knows. He’s got what it takes and he’s very committed. My biggest thing is he’s going to go to a university and get an education and play hockey, which is what it’s all about.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: Speaking of your sons, they once wrote a letter to Blues General Manager Larry Pleau asking him to give you a new contract in St. Louis. Did you put them up to that?

GC: (laughing) No. I didn’t even know about it. I didn’t know they did that until I came home and one of our friends was over at the house and they were all talking about it. Our friend faxed it in. If I had known, I wouldn’t have faxed it in.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: Post-concussion syndrome forced you to retire early in 1999. Have you completely recovered?

GC: Not completely, no. I still get symptoms at times. I’ve had the odd problem. I have to be careful when I’m on the ice. I still get dizzy a little bit.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: What’s your best memory from your playing days as a Blue?

GC: Oh man, I have a lot of them. A lot of the playoff runs that we had in St. Louis. It would have been great to go further, but we had a great rivalry with Detroit. Unfortunately, we never beat them in the playoffs two years in a row.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: In 1998, the Blues were leading a best-of-seven playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings two games to none. Trailing in Game 3, you crashed into Kings goaltender Jamie Storr, knocking him off his game and helping motivate the Blues to a 4-3 comeback victory. You ended up sweeping the Kings in that series. That moment has to rank as one of your most memorable.

GC: It’s interesting. Everybody always talks about that. That was an exciting series, and (hitting) was part of the game. That’s the way I played. I played to win every game, and unfortunately (Storr) got in the way.

STLOUISBLUES.COM: With all the memories you made in your career, do any of them hold a candle to you winning the Stanley Cup with Edmonton in 1988?

GC: You know what, I played 17 years and only won once. I only got there twice. It’s very very difficult to win it. Obviously, Anaheim today is pinching themselves realizing they just worked real hard, because it’s a long journey to get there.
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