Former Islanders goaltender Glen “Chico” Resch is still active in the hockey scene today as the color commentator for the New Jersey Devils. However, that hasn’t made the 63-year-old forget his roots or where he came from. In fact, some of his greatest memories were made at Nassau Coliseum.
“It probably started in 1975-76,” Resch said. “That place would shake. You would come out of the tunnel and it was like wind on the ears, wings like you couldn’t believe.”
Resch continued, “It was just an absolute joy to jump on that ice. It was exhilarating. I think when I come back and skate on that ice a lot of memories will come flooding back. I know it’s a little different, but the ice surface and the entry, the lower bowl and upper bowl, it’s all the same.”
Resch, along with former Islanders Mike Bossy, Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Butch Goring and Brian Mullen will take part in MET-Rx “Skate with the Greats” on Sunday, Feb. 12, following the Islanders and Panthers 3 p.m. matinee. All Islanders fans are encouraged to stay and watch the greats perform.
Just like his playing days, Resch will strap on the pads and step between the pipes to tend goal.
“If you catch me in July and August, my knees and everything would be in pretty good shape,” Resch said. “Before this game, I am going to put the pads on and skate three or four times just to get things kind of oiled up and not so creaky. But I’m going to be a goalie. At 63, people might wonder if I can play, but I can move. I play a lot of tennis and I run. So I’ll put the pads on.”
Though he may not be as quick as his playing days, he’s still going to give it his best shot. Reminiscing, Resch remembered one of his favorite moments as a player, the moment he realized he could play with the best.
“That first game my first year when we played the Boston Bruins, they were coming off their great teams and I stopped Bobby Orr,” Resch said. “I remember the first glove save I made on him. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to other people, but to me, I knew I had just stopped him and I thought, maybe I can play.”
Resch could play. His rookie season, 1974-75, Resch helped the Islanders beat the Rival New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Then, he led them to erase 3-0 series deficits to both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers before dropping Game 7 of the Patrick Division Finals to Philadelphia. Then in 1980, after eight years of trying, he lifted the Stanley Cup with his teammates, the men he grew up with and loved so much that he called them brothers.
When he suits up with his former teammates and some of the Islanders biggest fans, he hopes for one thing:
“I’m looking forward to that wonderful experience of coming back and maybe getting lost,” Resch said. “Let’s face it, a hockey game is not reality. A hockey game is lost in an illusion or lost in the moment. So to come back, that’s what we do again. We get lost for an hour or an hour-and-a-half.”
Resch knows this will be more than a fun experience for himself, the rest of the Islanders alumni and fans chosen to play alongside the Islanders greats. He hopes that they enjoy the experience just as much as he will. Even after playing 13 seasons in the league, Resch still finds himself getting excited around some of the league’s greatest players. He even considers himself a bit of a fan.
“Just after I retired, they had an alumni game in Montreal,” Resch said. “It was the old Montreal Canadiens against the NHL. This is probably ’90, but we played the game and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau and those guys were skating. Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard, who the trophy is named after, he was a referee.”
He continued, “I got to ask him just a couple questions because I didn’t want to be too over-the-top fan, but that was me being what these people coming to hang around with us and play around the ice will feel. So I never forget what that’s like.”
Resch said he hopes the fans will ask him and his fellow greats plenty of questions.
“You just try to make it as wonderful as an experience as you can,” Resch said. “You talk to them, tell them a story or two, just make it the best experience for them that you can and when they leave, they say, ‘That was really fun and insightful’ or ‘Boy, I didn’t know that.’”
He continued, “I’m going to have a blast. I just hope the fans that come don’t worry about how well they can skate or about being nervous, just come in and ask some questions. Players like specific questions.”
More from Resch Q: What do you remember from the 1980 Stanley Cup?
A: “Losing to the Rangers the year before (1979), when we really felt that we had a shot of playing Montreal and competing, when Montreal won those four Cups, we were one of the few teams that could match them and beat them, including in the Montreal Forum. So we thought if we could just get there to Montreal, we have a shot. But then the Rangers had that Cinderella year in ’79 and they upset us. That was crushing. So I can only tell you, when Bobby Ny (Nystrom) deflected that pass from Johnny Tonelli into the net to win the Cup, that ranks up obviously as the moment in all of our minds that we just say ‘wow, it’s over. We’ve done it. We’ve become all that we’ve hoped we could be.’ That was a great culmination of eight years, growing to that.”
Q: What was the crowd like?
A: “It is just a warm feeling because when I was there and the guys really up through ’86-’87, it was all about winning, feeling good and interacting with the fans. You knew who sat where and there was a low glass then so they could hang things over the glass and sign things or nod to them. If they were yelling from the stands, you could hear them, because the glass wasn’t very high. One guy had a dog house opposite our bench. We would look over to see who was in the dog house. If a player wasn’t playing well, he’d hang his name in there.” Q: What are some of your favorite memories of your Islanders career?
A: “When Brian Trottier threw a pie in Al Arbour’s face and almost drove his glasses into his forehead; that was a fun moment. When we all signed Clark Gillies beautiful new white hush puppy suede shoes that he got, we all autographed them and Clarkie went crazy. Now they’re probably worth $10,000 or I don’t know, but that was when we won the first Cup. We were the first team to start growing beards. In ’79-’80, we all decided we were going to grow a beard until we lost or won the playoffs. That’s where that tradition started. So it’s all those things. It’s really hard to pinpoint one because they all kind of overlap and make it one great glorious career for me.” Q: You said these players were like your brothers. Why is that and what will that locker room atmosphere be like when you come back to play Feb. 12?
A: “It’s always fun to go into the locker room. It’s just like with siblings, you grow up together and then 20 years later, now you’re 45 or 48 and if you had good, positive memories, you get back in that same positive memory, you become siblings and young adults again. That’s really what’s fun about it, hearing the jokes and ribbing each other again. It’s fun, being a part of the dressing room banter.”
“There are great comedy writers, but the best comedy writers I ever was around were those guys in the locker room, the players and trainers. The wittiness of some of those guys is unbelievable."