2005 NEWS

2005 News > 2/20/05


By Don Burke, Star Ledger

One-time schoolboy hockey phenom Tom Glavine is back for his third season with the Mets. The pitcher spent the off-season at his home outside of Atlanta, often wishing there was a Thrashers game to attend. One of the more thoughtful players in the game, Glavine talked to The Star-Ledger about the NHL's lost season and baseball's steroid controversy:

Having gone through a damaging strike in your sport in 1994, do you have any advice for the NHL players?
Obviously, they've stayed strong in their beliefs. Whether that's good or bad depends on which side of the fence you're on. It's the kind of thing where you have to understand the issues and have to be willing to stand on what it is you believe you have to stand on. Sometimes it's not an easy thing to do. You have to stay informed on what's going on. That way you don't get caught up in hearsay and you can make up your own mind.

Did you find yourself missing hockey this winter?
Yeah, I did. There were a couple of times when we were looking for something to do on a certain night and we said, 'Man, we'd like to go to hockey game.' But it wasn't going to happen. There were a few nights we would have gone down there. It stinks not being able to watch hockey. But having been through it, I'm not as emotional as a lot of people are.

Do you like to watch hockey on television?
Obviously I like going to the games better. It's hard with young kids in the house to be able to sit down and watch a hockey game (on TV) because they want to watch cartoons. But when I get a chance, I try to. I'm still a Boston Bruins fans, and if they're on, I'll watch them a little bit. But it's harder to watch a game on TV. I'd rather be there in person.

Which players do you like most?
There are a couple of guys in Atlanta that I like watching now -- (Dany) Heatley and (Ilya) Kovalchuk. But I root for the Bruins. They're my hometown team. But being down South, I couldn't tell you half their roster. There's a handful of guys who are still fun to watch and are a little bit above the rest. Mostly, I just enjoy watching the game.

What position did you play?
Center. A left-handed shot. Scored a lot of goals. Didn't get in the corners and muck it up too much if I didn't have to. Tried to stay out of all that. Then I lost my teeth in a cab (accident). Goes to show you.

Baseball survived the strike of 1994. Can hockey?
Hockey's going to have a tougher time. It doesn't have the fan base that baseball does. But we were lucky, too. We were lucky we had some things going on when we came back with (Cal) Ripken. Then we had the (Sammy) Sosa thing going on with (Mark) McGwire. We were fortunate we had a couple of events like that that helped us get through it. I don't see hockey having any of those things to latch onto.

Speaking of McGwire and Sosa, what do you make of the steroid flap and Jose Canseco's book?
You have to wonder what (Canseco's) motives are. I'm not saying that there aren't things in his book that aren't true. But I venture to say that there are things in there that are not true. With all the things going on this winter, with the Balco situation ultimately leading to a better and tougher steroid policy, we all felt we had turned the page and were moving forward. Now we have to dig it all up again. Whether or not things in his book are true, it doesn't affect what we're doing now. It's in the past and there's nothing we can go back and change. All we can do is go forward. As a sport, we've done a good job of trying to address the issue and trying to correct it. To me, that's what we have to try and focus on -- what we're doing from here on out, not what Jose says did or didn't happen when he was a player.

Mike Piazza said last week that the players and the game's management had "turned a deaf ear" to the steroid problem. Do you agree?
Being a guy who has been involved (in the players association), I don't agree with that. I'm not saying there weren't discussions about what was going on and the extent of what was going on. As it was perceived to be a bigger problem, it got more attention from the players, the owners, the media and everything else. It's easy to say, looking back, that everybody turned a deaf ear or a blind eye. But everybody had their opportunity to speak up. If people didn't speak up or voice their opinion, they have themselves to blame. The easy thing is to look back and say, 'We all knew. Everybody knew.' I don't believe that. I think the situation was dealt with as it became more and more of a problem. Maybe it wasn't dealt with quick enough, but how many things are? In this case, if we're guilty of anything, I think we were probably a little slow in reacting.

How much steroid use have you seen?
Of people using it? None. That's one of the things I don't understand about Canseco's book. He makes it sound like you have four or five guys skipping off to the bathroom to have a little injection party. I've been around guys who I'm pretty confident were doing it and one or two guys who admitted doing it and anybody you would remotely suspect of doing it, (and) I can assure you, they were very discreet about it. You can have all the suspicions in the world and unless you actually see somebody inject themselves, who knows? It was certainly not the kind of thing that guys were open and proud about.