STUCK IN HERSHEY FOR 25 YEARS...PART TWO
08/10/2009 - As seen in the game program Jim Starr, BEARS Staff Writer Starr: What memories does this 1994-95 team picture bring back for you? Beaker: I see Neil Little, Dan Kordic, and a big fan favorite, Mitch Lamoureux, that was another fun year. Starr: As I look at the 1995-96 team picture, I believe that was the year the AHL All-Star game was held at HERSHEYPARK Arena. I also notice in the picture an increase of advertising signage on the walls along the walkway of the first level. Beaker: Yes, and that was the year guys quit wearing bell bottoms and platform shoes too. (laugh) Tony Horacek was on the 95-96 team. Starr: He had an extra hard wrist shot! Beaker: The next season in 96-97 Colorado became our NHL Affiliate and Bob Hartley took over, and that was another Cup year! Looking at that picture brings back a lot of memories. Anytime you win the Cup your mind races with lots of memories. Starr: How about the 1997-98 gang. That was a colorful year. Beaker: Yes, when I look at that I see Ville Nieminen, he was a special bird, there was Christian Matte, Brad Larson, it was a great team. Starr: We won the Cup in 96-97, and then we have another great team in 97-98. Why didn't we win back to back Cups? Beaker: People don't realize, but when you put everything out there to win the Cup, it takes a lot to win it all. You're playing into June, and then you spend July partying (smile) and then before you know it you're getting ready to show up for training camp in late August. It's not enough time for the body to heal and be rested. Another factor is the personnel changes from year to year. From the Cup team to the following season, we had at least a 30 to 40% change in players. That's a big turnover for sure. I have always said it's tough to go back to back in hockey. Of course teams have done it, and you have the Islanders and Oilers dynasties, but it doesn't happen a lot. Starr: Let's look at the 98-99 team. That was a great year there too because there was Scott Parker, (smile) One of the toughest meanest guys that ever stepped onto AHL ice. He was a very strong mean individual on the ice. I spoke with Scott various times when he was a scratch and he didn't smile a lot, but I would give him a "9" in manners and taking the time to talk in a mutual respective manner, especially if you were talking to him about his last fight. (laugh) Beaker: We also had Colorado goaltender David Aebischer, Starr: You know, back in those days Freddy Cassivi was the back up goalie to Aebischer, and I always felt that Freddy, even back then, was the better goaltender and I wondered why Freddy wasn't played more. Then I figured out that Colorado was grooming Aebischer for the NHL and a full time call up ASAP. Beaker: You know what though ... Those two were very close and had a great relationship. They were always together and helping each other with techniques and there was no animosity between them ever. Starr: OK Beaker, 25 plus years hangin' out with hockey players, you must have another entertaining story about some player in particular. I know what happens in the locker room – stays in the locker room, but cough something up the fans might enjoy. An old time hockey story, stuff like you see in the movie "Slap Shot." (smile) Beaker: There have been a lot of good stories over the years, let me think here. Starr: You remember the story Mike Emerick gave on National TV during a Flyers game when he explained that the Flyers bus motor caught on fire and equipment manager Harry Bricker (who is from Hershey and used to work for you Beaker here with the Bears) grabbed the fire extinguisher, jumped out of the bus and saved the day by putting the fire out. Harry and Eric Lindross ended up getting to the game in a pick up truck. Beaker: OK, here's a good one for you. One game when Craig Berube was a rookie with the HERSHEY BEARS, he ended up on the receiving end of a technical knockout and he suffered a concussion in that fight. He lived alone in an apartment so I stayed overnight at his apartment to make sure he would be alright. One of the main things is to keep a person conscious as much as possible right after they suffer a concussion. So, I would wake him up every two hours to make sure he was alright. I woke him up the first time and he said, yes, yes I'm alright and he went back to sleep. Two hours later I woke him up again and he said, yes I'm OK, and he went back to sleep. Two hours later I wake him up for the third time and he kind of looked at me funny with an angry look and he said: "Listen, if you wake me up one more time I'm going to knock YOU out." So I packed up and briskly walked out the door and left since he seemed OK.(laugh) (Beaker continues) ... One time we flew up to Halifax for a game and it was a windy day and the landing was really rough. The plane was going sideways, the lights went out, and I looked around and there were a lot of players with cold sweats and they had the bags out, and they weren't lunch bags either. (smile) That night we were to fly to Moncton for the next game, but several players bought a bus ticket and got to the game by bus. (laugh) Starr: Do you remember when I was on Radio traveling with you and the team in the 80's and I believe we were heading to Springfield and the bus ran out of gas just before the exit to our hotel. The exit ramp was down hill so we coasted into downtown Springfield at about 2 AM and came to a dead stop about two blocks from the hotel in freezing cold weather. Everyone had to carry their own bags and equipment to the hotel. Beaker: (laughing) Yes I do remember that. That's the time when I developed my bad back. (laugh) Starr: Then there was the time we were heading down to Baltimore and play-by-play BEARS announcer Dan Kamal became very sick in his stomach and he laid face down on the bus floor during the whole trip down. I thought sure I was going to have to switch from color analyst to play-by-Play for that game, but we got to the arena and Dan slithered into his chair and said: "Good Evening and welcome to the BEARS Radio Network." That's dedication! I remember when we were making a 3 game road trip, which included Canada, and you were sitting across the isle from me, and you pulled out a diamond engagement ring. (of course I got a little nervous, laugh) but you began showing it to all the players saying that you were going to propose when we got back from the trip. Now you're married with children, and your son Dustin was recently on the Palmyra Area High School State Championship Soccer team. Beaker: That was great wasn't it? I'm very proud of him.
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