With all the recent Sidney Crosby concussion talk I thought it would be a good idea to head to Nashville Tennessee and talk with former NHL tough guy Stu Grimson. One of the toughest guys to ever lace them up in the NHL. Stu ended up retiring a bit early at the age of 36 because of post-concussion syndrome suffered after a bout with of all people ex-Penguin Georges Laraque. That’s not where his story ends. If you can believe it, after hockey Stu went on and got a law degree in Memphis and is now a practicing attorney in Nashville. Stu and I talked about his hockey career, Bob Probert, Sidney Crosby and dealing with concussions, and life after hockey.
Coffee Talk with Art Vandelay
Art Vandelay: You were originally drafted by the Redwings in 1983 but elected not to sign with the team. What happened?
Stu Grimson: “Yes, Detroit did draft me in 1983. However, they did not offer me a contract and, therefore, I re-entered the underage draft and was taken in 1985 by the Calgary Flames. I ultimately turned pro with Calgary.”
Art Vandelay: You fought some of the toughest guys in the league. Who was the toughest you fought, and what made them so tough?
Stu Grimson: “Dave Brown, Bob Probert and Georges Laraque were the toughest guys I ever fought. Dave Brown was tough because he had a left hand that hit like a thunder cloud. Bob Probert was the person I fought most in my career and I always knew I had my hands full when I fought Bob. He was a great fighter, a fierce competitor, and he was equally good with both his right and left hands. Big Georges was also a big strong lefty; I hated lefties….if it weren’t for lefties I’d still be out there. Well….”
Art Vandelay: You have had a concussion or two in your career. Can you tell our readers some of the things Sidney Crosby has gone through this month, or still might be going through in his attempt to come back from this injury?
Stu Grimson: “I cannot speak for Sidney. However, if his struggles are anything like mine were, I am sure he is feeling a great deal of frustration right now. A concussion is like no other injury. Other than rest, there is nothing you can do to rehabilitate it. That is very frustrating for an athlete. Broken bones and muscle tears heal in a relatively short period of time. Doing nothing and waiting for your brain to give you permission to start working out again is a very difficult thing to do for somebody that wants nothing more than to get back on the ice and play.”
Art Vandelay: What memories do you have on playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, or playing in the Civic Arena?
Stu Grimson: “My strongest memory of playing the Pittsburgh Penguins is the Stanley Cup finals in 1992. I was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and we came up against the juggernaut that was the Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals that year. It was a very frustrating moment after we fell short, but I will say that it was a great experience being part of an extended playoff run like that.”
Art Vandelay: Your thoughts on Bob Probert?
Stu Grimson: “Bob was my nemesis. He and I knew that just about every time we stepped on the ice together that it would probably end in some kind of a scrape. He was a tough, tough man and also a great player. He was an all star early in his career. I am not sure that we will ever see his equal again. On a personal note, I got to know him much better after he and I both retired from the game. He was a great guy and a great family man. He was dearly loved and is dearly missed by all those that knew him. ”
Art Vandelay: You played for eight different NHL teams in your career. What team do you have the fondest memories of and why?
Stu Grimson: “I enjoyed every team I played with during my NHL career. However, I will say this, there is something special about playing for an original 6 team. For that reason, Detroit and Chicago were very memorable stops.”
Art Vandelay: Can you tell our readers about some of the duties and responsibilities you had when you served as an Executive Vice President to the NHL Players Association?
Stu Grimson: “As an Executive Vice President to the NHL Players Association, I was responsible for a wide variety of things. Primarily, as a member of the Executive Committee, we worked closely with the Executive Board and the Executive Director to formulate policy and make recommendations to our members. ”
Art Vandelay: Can you talk about working Kay, Griffin, Enkema, & Colbert?
Stu Grimson: “I work as an attorney with Kay, Griffin, Enkema & Colbert. We are a litigation firm. We represent individuals and companies on a wide range of legal issues. Primarily, I focus on two areas of law. I am a defense attorney in the area of civil litigation and I do a lot of family law work as well, such as divorces and prenuptials, etc.”
Art Vandelay: The nickname “Grim Reaper”. Did you like it, or hate it?
Stu Grimson: “I suppose I have always kind of liked my nickname. Hockey fans have always responded very positively to it and I suppose it’s always been enjoyable for that reason. At the end of the day, it’s probably done me more good than harm.”
Wow, what is scarier than a guy that could beat you with his mind or his fists? I want to thank Stu Grimson for taking time out his busy day to chat with me. I also want him to thank him for picking up the tab for the coffee since Krundle sends me on these interviews but doesn’t pay my expenses. If you are ever in the Nashville area and need legal advice please look up Stu Grimson @ Kay, Griffin, Enkema & Colbert. http://www.kaygriffin.com/