2006 NEWS

2006 News > 6/21/06

HOCKEY STILL RESONATES WITH GLAVINE

By Adam Rubin, NHL.com

Tom Glavine regularly attends Thrashers games during the winter. Two decades ago, he was on a path to be on the ice in NHL arenas.

Glavine, the New York Mets pitcher who is chugging toward 300 career wins, was selected by the Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, five rounds before L.A. picked Luc Robitaille. A former lefty-shooting center and two-sport star from Billerica, Mass., Glavine also was selected two rounds before Calgary selected Brett Hull that year. (The star-studded draft also included Mario Lemieux as the first-overall pick.)

"That's pretty cool, to think I was drafted ahead of those guys, who turned out to be Hall of Fame players. Naturally one can only assume I would have been a Hall of Fame hockey player because of it, right?" Glavine quipped.

Glavine grew up a Bruins fan, and was even honored with the John Carlton Award by the team during intermission at Boston Garden in '84. The award annually goes to the senior who is the top scholar-athlete in the state, and Glavine's goal-scoring prowess and 3.9 GPA more than qualified him. His nickname even was "The Great Glavine", though the southpaw only sheepishly acknowledges it.

"Some people called me that," he said.

Five days before he was taken by the Kings, Glavine had been selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of Major League Baseball's draft. In the end, Glavine's big debate was whether to sign with Atlanta or play both sports at the University of Lowell (now UMass-Lowell), which had Division I hockey and a solid Division II baseball program. When the Braves offered $80,000, first-round money, he was swayed to making baseball his occupation.

"I was intent on going to school," Glavine said. "My dad and I talked about it, and our strategy was once we got to the point where we got them to first-round money -- and it's enough money to be worth my while to give up the scholarship -- then we'll think about it. But until then I was going to college.

"Hockey, they have your rights for five years, so they knew I was going to college. They called me, 'Hey, we drafted you. We know where you're going to school. We'll keep an eye on you and talk to you in a couple of years.' The Braves were, 'Hey, we drafted you. We want to sign you.'"

Glavine would have been hard-pressed to duplicate his baseball success in hockey. He suggests the equivalent of 300 wins is probably 500 or 600 goals.

"I think I was good enough to get there," Glavine said about the NHL. "How long I would have lasted, I have no idea. It's hard to imagine my career in hockey would have been better than what it's been in baseball. I was small coming out of high school. I only weighed 175 pounds, so I would have had to get bigger to stick around."

Glavine, who spends his winters in Alpharetta, Ga., estimated he attends 10 to 15 Thrashers games each season. He'd go more frequently, but he needs to report to spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., by mid-February.

"When I'm done playing it will probably be more, because I miss the whole second half of the season," Glavine said. "I love going. My kids love it. It's still probably my favorite sport to watch live. I enjoy going to hockey games more than anything."

Glavine's oldest sons, 11-year-old Jonathan and 7-year-old Peyton, play organized hockey. He's hoping to enroll 5-year-old Mason next year.

Glavine smiles while discussing his love of the game, which reveals his fake front teeth. Through years of playing hockey his teeth remained intact. It was during a taxi-cab accident as a passenger while riding from La Guardia Airport to Shea Stadium two years ago that he lost his two front teeth, when an SUV slammed into the vehicle in which he was riding.

"That was disappointing," Glavine said. "It would have been much more fun to get them knocked out, and much more glamorous to get them knocked out, playing hockey."