Like many players of his era, goalie Eddie Mio was drafted by both the NHL and the competing WHA in the same summer.
A seventh-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks and a 10th round selection of the Vancouver Blazers in 1974, Mio, who grew-up across the river from Detroit, in Windsor, Ontario and graduated from Assumption High School, never played for either club.
But four years later, Mio struck the hockey lottery with the Indianapolis Racers when he met and befriended Wayne Gretzky. Nine months past, and the two teammates were bundled in a WHA deal to Edmonton for cash and future considerations. The following season, the Oilers were gobbled up by the NHL.
Mio was traded two more times in his short NHL career, including a deal that sent him to his hometown Red Wings along with Ron Duguay and Eddie Johnstone in 1983. During his three seasons with the Wings, Mio was part of a goaltending carousel that also included Greg Stefan, Corrado Micalef, Ken Holland, Mark LaForest, and Chris Pusey.
Recently, DetroitRedWings.com caught up with Mio to discuss his career and Red Wings memories.
QUESTION: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
MIO: “A lot of them still live in this area with Johnny Ogrodnick, Petr (Klima), Greg Stefan, my old partner, especially if we’re at the Plymouth Whalers games. I’ve talked to John Barrett once in awhile.”
Q. Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
MIO: “I like the Captain (Nicklas Lidstrom) just because he personifies leadership, ability, just everything that you want in your captain, but more importantly, he’s still a top five defenseman. I put him in the top five overall, I mean I put him with Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky; he’s right up there.”
Q. What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
MIO: “It was in my first year (1983-84) and we cinched a playoff spot for the first time in (six) years. It was a good feeling because they had got me from New York, and even though I was hurt most of that year it was still satisfying that we were going to the playoffs.”
Q. Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
MIO: “Well, I would have to say that as a combo it’s got to be Joey (Kocur) and Bobby (Probert). I got to know Joey when I was rehabbing my hamstring in Adirondack and we were in Nova Scotia when he got into the fight with Jimmy Playfair, so we both got called up and (coach) Bill Dineen said, ‘Hey, take care of the kid.’ But I would have a hard time separating the two. They both would come to the rescue of anybody as long as you could prove that you were a team guy.”
Q. Who was the funniest?
MIO: “I think Probie had a pretty good wry sense of humor because he would look at you with those puppy eyes and know that he could kill you at anytime. But he had a pretty good wry sense of humor.”
Q. Who had the biggest heart?
MIO: “Well, I loved Lane Lambert in his first year here. Not a lot of skill, but he would just go through the wall for you. Him and Danny Gare, who was on his last leg like I was, he had a heart of a champion, too. But I would say Lane Lambert.”
Q. What was your favorite restaurant in metro Detroit?
MIO: “I would have to say that I loved Ginopolis back there in the ’80s. It wasn’t so much about the food, but you could go there and there a nightlife, so it was my favorite restaurant to go to.”
Q. How has the NHL changed since you played?
MIO: “The kids are a lot bigger, faster. I don’t think the skill level has changed, because we had our skill guys with (Guy) Lafleur and (Bryan) Trottier and Mike Bossy. But I think goaltending has got – I don’t want to say better – but bigger when 5-foot-10 ½ and 5-11 was good sized back then and now they’re (Pekka) Rinne sized. So I’d say speed and overall the guys are bigger.”
Q. Toughest team (other than the Red Wings) when you played?
MIO: “Wow, the Islanders in the ’80s, I mean they were tough. Then Edmonton in 1983 when I got to Detroit those were the two tough teams. And Montreal still had a pretty good flying team with (Jacques) Lemaire and (Larry) Robinson still playing. But we only had 21 (teams) back then.”
Q. What is your favorite Red Wings-Maple Leafs memory?
MIO: “That’s an easy one, it was my first game as a Detroit player in Toronto (Nov. 19, 1983). Obviously, I had been there before, but coming back with Detroit, especially since I’m from Windsor, it made it a little more special.
“The one that I would like to forget was the brawl in 1986, the big one when me and Probie and Lane Lambert got kicked out. But the first time I went into Toronto was a big day for me because of the rivalry and being from Windsor.”
Q. Who did you sit next to in the dressing room?
MIO: “Actually, I sat right next to Greg Stefan.”
Q. What do you love most about the game?
MIO: “For me the game is just the best sport. I know that I’m being biased, but there is action all of the time. There is something always going on, you’re not in a huddle. I just like the action and the speed of the game.”
Q. Who had the greatest influence on your career?
MIO: “There was two Basilian Fathers in (Windsor) Assumption High School – Father Cullen and Father Sullivan – and they got me in grade nine and helped me go through the finer points of goaltending and then helped me make a decision when Father Sullivan was writing to a lot of colleges.”
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