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Duguay's Good Times Still Rolling

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers


by Joey Wahler
Courtesy of www.msgnetwork.com

Ron Duguay hasn't been an NHL player for 13 years, nor a New York City playboy for even longer. Once a Ranger fixture, he admits he still misses playing. Save your sympathies though.

Duguay lives in the Florida sunshine, just a slap shot from the ocean in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville. He's married to former supermodel Kim Alexis. Plus, at 44, he's maintained his signature long, thick, wavy mane.

Poor guy, huh?

"Well, I've tried to go with short hair and it's just not me," Duguay tells MSGNetwork.com. "That's me, and I express myself better that way. I think you combine my hairstyle with my hockey style, and I stood out a little more than most people."

In two Ranger stints (1977-'83 and '86-'88), Duguay scored at least 20 goals four times, including a career-high 40 in '81-'82. Locks flying, he was equally popular at Madison Square Garden or in Manhattan's hottest nightspots.

If only Duguay took advantage of opposing defensemen as much as he did of being single, he says.

"Hockey-wise, I didn't get the most out of myself, because the off-ice activity affected my on-ice, although at the time I didn't think so," Duguay said. "If I'd been to bed at an earlier time, I would've been stronger. I would've been a better player and I probably would've lasted in New York longer.

"And that really shows up in an athlete towards the end of the activity, towards the end of the game. You know, when you need that extra energy towards the third period or towards the end of the season. I worked as hard as I could've worked. I mean, I worked until I would've thrown up. It's just that I could've been even stronger had I taken care of myself."

Nevertheless, Duguay helped the Rangers become Cinderella NHL finalists in 1978-'79. He calls that his New York high point.

"It was the involvement from the fans, how special they made it," Duguay recalls. "I can just remember the goose bumps you would have just walking out in warm-ups."

The Blueshirts made the 1979 Finals with a six-game playoff win over the hated Islanders, the NHL's top team that regular season.

"It's the type of hockey that I like," Duguay remembers of that series. "It was everyone playing with a lot of emotion without playing too dirty."

The Rangers surprised heavily favored Montreal with an opening-game win at the Forum, and Duguay's goal gave them a 2-0 lead the following game. The Canadiens, however, came storming back for a 6-2 victory, sweeping the last four games to win the Stanley Cup in five.

Remember the popular TV commercial featuring Duguay, Phil Esposito, Ron Greschner and Dave Maloney? Dressed in jeans and Ranger jerseys, they were singing, "Ooh-La-La-Sassoon." Such off-ice endeavors were both a Ranger blessing and a curse, Duguay says.

"A lot of the stuff that we did off the ice helped us on the ice," Duguay said. "By the time we were in the finals, it caught up to us. We had too much fun, and it just appeared like the Canadiens were more rested than we were. We got tired, and I believe that's how they beat us."

Ranger coach Herb Brooks later tired of Duguay's nightlife, trading him to Detroit in 1983.

"It was just easy to have fun; it was easy to stay out late," Duguay said. "If I was to talk to a New York athlete, I would have a lot to say about that because there are a lot of distractions.

"I didn't want to leave, although I felt at the time it was probably the best thing for me as a hockey player."

After scoring 33 and 38 goals his first two years in the Motor City, Duguay went to Pittsburgh. In 1986 he returned to the Rangers for two seasons before finishing his 12-year career in Los Angeles. Following a three-year retirement, Duguay's comeback attempt with Tampa Bay in 1992 ended in training camp.

Was it tough getting playing out of his system?

"It still is," Duguay said. "I'm 44 and I still believe I can go play professional hockey somewhere. I haven't stopped playing. I have not let go of being a professional hockey player."

Indeed, for about five years Duguay has organized charity games featuring former NHL players, including himself, and celebrities. They accept challenges from local teams. (More information at AllStarsHockey.com)

There'll be a round-robin tournament the weekend of Mar. 22 at Manhattan's Chelsea Piers. New York City police and firefighters, plus Ranger, Islander and Devil alumni will field teams. Funds go to families of police and firefighters killed Sept. 11.

Also a "full-time dad," Duguay cares of his boys, aged 7, 12 and 15. The family also has dogs, cats, pigs, goats and sheep -- two of each -- their own Noah's Ark.

"That's the name of my son -- Noah - the youngest," Duguay said, appropriately enough.

Model wife Kim met Duguay after he'd been married with two kids.

"Had I met her when I was just 20, 21, where I was a little bit wild and not looking to settle down, it might've not worked the first time," Duguay said.

Duguay manages Kim's business ventures.

"They're developing a brand name and different items for her to sell on Home Shopping Network," Duguay said. "So she's going to become a regular on Home Shopping Network, like Suzanne Somers."

That hardly replaces playing at the Garden, however.

"I miss playing in front of 18,000 people," Duguay said. "I miss hearing people cheer and call my name out after I've scored a goal or I've hit someone. I still miss that, and I'll probably always miss that.

"Besides that, life is good. God has been good to me. It's been a real blessing, with my wife and family, and where I live, and what I get to do. I don't have too many complaints."

Plus, he's still got that hair.
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