I recently had the luck of catching up with ex-Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Chris Tamer. Some of the Pittsburgh fans who started following the Penguins after Sidney Crosby was drafted may not be familiar with him, but Chris was drafted 68th overall by the Penguins the same year the Penguins drafted Jaromir Jagr. Amazingly, he was able to crack the super talented Pittsburgh roster full time just his second year in the NHL.
Chris ended up playing parts of his first 6 seasons in the NHL with the Pens then was part of the trade that brought Alexei Kovalev here for Kovi’s first round as a Penguin.
Chris and I talked about his time with the Penguins,training & work outs, fighting, and what he’s up to now.
Coffee Talk with Art Vandelay
Art: My weekly post is called “Coffee Talk”. Do you drink coffee? If so what kind do you prefer?
Chris: Yes, any kind.
Art: Chris your professional career spanned over 12 years in the NHL. What are you most proud of?
Chris: I am most proud of playing in all 82 games during one of the seasons in Atl.
Art: What memories do you have about playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins? The city, the team, and the Civic Arena.
Chris: One of the memories was of driving to and from the Igloo. You could see how the city lit up for a Pens game. The people in Pittsburgh are great hockey fans and love to support hard working teams.
Art: Over your career you have fought some of the NHL’s toughest guys like Stu Grimson, Bob Probert, and Krzysztof Oliwa. Who was your toughest opponent and why? What made them a tough opponent?
Chris: Bob Probert was one of the toughest players to fight. I had a great amount of knowledge and respect for him. Paul Laus played in Florida and was the strongest and smartest fighter. I never had too much success against him.
Art: When you played for Pittsburgh for the most part, you were considered the only muscle on the team. How did you feel about that? Did you feel you had to take it upon yourself to take care of things if they got out of hand on the ice?
Chris: I did enjoy the challenge of being called on when the game got out of hand. Playing teams like Philly really really keeps you awake and on edge when you know you know you will be challenged at some point that night.
Art: During your career you have played with some of the greatest players to ever play the game, Mario in Pittsburgh and Wayne in New York. What were the locker room atmospheres like with Mario and Wayne? How were they different? Most of all, what did you learn from being around the two of the greatest players in the game that helped you when you played for the Atalanta Thrashers their first year in the league?
Chris: Mario was by far the most physically impressive player I have ever played with or watched. He was confident and driven. Wayne had records that were almost unbelievable. He was probably the most recognizable person in all of Canada but he was a impressively a humble person. What was memorable about him was his love for the game. He enjoyed every aspect of playing hockey.
Art: Favorite NHL city to play in and why?
Chris: Pittsburgh is a great city to play in.
Art: So tell our readers what you are up to now?
Chris: I own and operate a gym. We are a Crossfit affiliate. I get the chance to do what I enjoy and deal with phenomenal people. (http://www.hyperfitusa.com/)
Art: Ron Francis asked Mario Lemieux one time if he ever worked out in the summer. Mario’s response was “Starting August 1st I do not order french fries with my club sandwich”. As a former teammate what are your thoughts on Mario’s workout regimen, and what are your thoughts as a fitness gym owner?
Chris: Mario had amazing talent and also had many seasons that went well into the summer. Getting rest is just as important as training. Times are definitely different now in that players are in great shape coming into the season. Players are continually getting bigger and stronger. Training is hopefully constantly improving as well. We train with a Crossfit training methodology and I wish I was doing this as a player.
Art: I am getting married this September (2011). Is there anything you can recommend that I do before the big day (training wise) to ensure I look my best for the future Mrs. Art Vandelay?
Chris: If she doesn’t like you now then you are in trouble.
Chris was one of those guys who came up first year with the Penguins and most people thought he was one of those guys brought in only because he could fight. He quickly proved everyone wrong once he started playing full time. In his third season in the NHL, the 95/96 season, he was fifth on the team overall in +/- with a +20.
With his fists and quality defense, Chris quickly became a fan favorite in the era of three of the greatest players in NHL history Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis. To this day, over 12 years since he played for the Penguins, every Penguin game I go to I still see a bunch of people wearing Chris Tamer jersey’s.
If you get the chance, check out some of Chris’s fitness blogging over at http://www.crossfitbrighton.com/