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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 04:10 GMT
Hardman McSorley dices with Devils
Marty McSorley (right) and brother Chris
Marty (right) shares a joke with brother Chris
BBC Sport Online's Stuart Hughes talks to NHL legend Marty McSorley about his plans for Cardiff Devils

Marty McSorley is not the first person you would expect to fly across the Atlantic to do his bit for charity.

Standing at 6ft 2in and weighing 240lb, he is one of ice hockey's legendary tough guys.

During a 17-year career in the NHL the Hamilton, Ontario native served as Wayne Gretzky's on-ice bodyguard at Edmonton and Los Angeles.


Chris gave me a call and he was really really excited about the situation in Cardiff
Marty McSorley

Never afraid to drop his gloves, McSorley's 3,381 minutes in the sin bin make him the third most penalised player in National Hockey League history.

So it is surprising to find the man once described as "the embodiment of NHL evil" lacing up his skates for a fund-raising exhibition match in Cardiff.

McSorley's visit to the UK is part pleasure, part business.

Aside from sightseeing and catching up with his elder brother Chris - the former coach of the London Knights - the trip also gives him a chance to see at first hand the club he and his sibling are considering buying.

That the Cardiff Devils are in need of saviours like the McSorley brothers is unquestionable.

The club has seen its fan base crumble since it dropped out of the Superleague in the summer.

Loyal supporters, furious at the way the Devils have been managed, have boycotted games and held vigils outside the Wales National Ice Rink.

As a result, crowds have dwindled from several thousand to just a few hundred.

Although negotiations over the purchase of the lease to the Wales National Ice Rink are proving difficult, Marty McSorley hopes to be able to play a part in restoring the club to its former glory.

Marty McSorley lands himself in hot water
McSorley often found himself in hot water
"Chris gave me a call and he was really really excited about the situation here, so you've got to take a step back and think about it," he said.

"From our standpoint, we have to be very calm and very collected and not make it personal with the old ownership. We're just trying to remain calm and very businesslike."

McSorley's NHL career ended abruptly on 21 February, 2000.

During a game between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks, he skated through the neutral zone and took down Donald Brashear with a stick blow to the side of the head.

His actions earned him a one-year league ban and a conditional discharge on an assault charge.

McSorley believes the incident has been blown out of proportion.

"Anyone who has been a player knows I was on the ice doing my job," he insisted.

"It was an awful accident. I was provoking a fight. It's unfortunate I had to provoke a fight with a player who is 255lb.

"He had hurt our goaltender and I was put into a position of doing my job. There's been a tremendous amount of sensationalism."

At 38, McSorley knows he will never win any more Stanley Cup rings to add to the two he collected with Edmonton in the late eighties.


The game didn't come easy for me... I had to spend a lot of hours on the ice
Marty McSorley

But he believes he can pass on some of the experience accumulated during almost 1,000 NHL games to the next generation of hockey stars.

"I think, first and foremost, I would enjoy the teaching side," he said.

"I've had the opportunity as a player to play in some of the worst teams in the NHL and in what I consider to be the best team in the history of the NHL.

"The game didn't come easy for me. I had to spend a lot of hours on the ice and had to work a lot harder than other players to develop the skills. I'd like to pass that on.

"If I came here I've thought about clinics and different things we could do within the team and the city.

"You'd build your fan base but at the same time you'd build hockey knowledge."

Teaching aside, McSorley feels that moving to Britain would also give him a chance to continuing doing what he enjoys best of all.

"I still love to play," he admitted. "I find myself in Los Angeles taking my gear and going to the rink some nights and playing two or three games and never taking a shot on net, just going out and playing and having fun."

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Marty McSorley with BBC Wales Sport's Jeff Collins
"There seems to be a great hockey history here."
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