Former Toronto Maple Leaf great Darryl Sittler spoke at the 4th annual Red Deer Regional Catholic Education Foundation gala at the Black Knight Inn on Wednesday night.

Sittler remembers ‘greatest team ever’

Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler may be best known for his 10-point game with the Toronto Maple Leafs but his best memory came while playing for Team Canada.

Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler may be best known for his 10-point game with the Toronto Maple Leafs but his best memory came while playing for Team Canada.

In 1976 Sittler was on one of the greatest teams to ever suit up for Canada and included the likes of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Bobby Clarke, Guy Lafleur, Denis Potvin, Frank Mahovlich and other hockey greats.

Sittler, who was in Red Deer for the Red Deer Regional Catholic Education Foundation gala said scoring the tournament winning overtime goal against Czechoslovakia in the inaugural Canada Cup series is one of his fondest memories.

“I never won a Stanley Cup but I was on a Canada Cup team,” said Sittler, 62. “There were 19 guys (including coaches) off that team that have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. I think it was probably one of the greatest Canadian teams ever.”

Sittler retired in 1985 after 15 years in the NHL and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. Sittler played most notably for the Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings.

Earlier in 1976, Sittler would set the record for most points in a game that would prove to be tough to crack.

Sittler scored six goals and set up four others for a total of 10 points against the Boston Bruins.

Sittler said he didn’t give the record much thought at the time.

In the high-scoring late 1970s and early 1980s, he figured Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux would set a new one.

“They didn’t,” said Sittler.

“We’re still here. Thirty-seven years later. It’s going to be difficult to break. To be honest with you I hope it isn’t. It’s nice to hold it and have something to hold onto like that.”

Sittler said the nice thing about that record is that he set it against one of the Original Six teams, the Boston Bruins and it was played on Hockey Night in Canada.

These days Sittler can be usually found lending a hand through charity work and working with the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Inc. in Toronto.

On Wednesday night, Sittler shared some highlights from his career but he also got serious when he talked about his charity work, his relationship with Terry Fox, and the loss of his wife Wendy to colon cancer in 2001.

Sittler said he has learned through his life that turning a negative into a positive is important.

He cited Terry Fox’s story and his own work raising awareness about colon cancer.

“I’ve learned with my own experiences when I get involved in a charity or by assisting somebody in their life … that I’ve never ever regretted it,” said Sittler, the Leafs first pick and eighth overall pick in the 1970 NHL entry draft.

“Every day you get up and you have an opportunity to do different things. It’s a choice.”

Sittler said if you sit on the sidelines and do nothing, nothing will change or get better.

“But if you choose to get involved, you might and can make a difference,” said the 62-year-old. “It will come back to you in different ways.”

All the proceeds from the gala will go back into Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools student projects and initiatives.

Last year the gala featuring Corner Gas comedian Brent Butt brought in $36,000.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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