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November 02, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-11-02

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The NHL Hall-of-Famer discusses his son,
his career, and college hockey

John Niyo

Darryl Sittler is one of the names
'of hockey lore. He played 15 seasons
win the NHL, from 1970 to 1985. In
1,096 games, he garnered 1,021
points for Toronto, Philadelphia and
Sittler owns the NHL record for
most points in a single contest with
10 - six goals and four assists. In
1989 he was inducted into the Hall
of Fame.
His son, Ryan, was drafted sev-
enth overall in the 1992 NHL ,draft
and is currently a freshman playing
for Michigan. Recently, Daily
Hockey Writer Brett Forrest spoke
with the hockey great.
Daily: When did you realize that
Ryan was going to be a good player?
Sittler: Well, about three years
ago, when Ryan was playing at
Nichols High School in Buffalo, he
decided that he wanted to be a
player. And he lost some weight and
he started working hard at the prac-
tices and on his conditioning. When
he started to play on the varsity team
two years ago, he started to play well
and attract some attention from some
:of the schools and at that point in
time I didn't really know whether
he'd develop into a Division I player
or not. But he continued to work on
his game, and he grew a little taller.
He had a good shot and good hands
and he was pretty smart with the
puck. Things all just seemed to fall
into place, and in his senior year of
high school, there were a lot of col-
leges recruiting him. When he got
the attention from doing well, he
thrived on that, and worked even
that much harder at it. When you're
a big kid and tall, sometimes your
coordination takes a little bit to catch
up to your growth, and it all sort of
came together his senior year of high
school - but he's still got a big step
to go. He realizes that making the
jump from high school hockey to
playing NCAA is a big jump, and
when you're a first-round pick in the
NHL I think that there's pressure
that you tend to put on yourself, or
that the people watching you, your
teammates expect a lot from you. So
you have to realize that it's a learn-
ing, and a developing pyramid. He's
in the bottom of the pyramid and
he's trying to play well and adjust to
this level of play, and so far he's
done a good job.
D: Why did Ryan and the family
choose- to have him go to college
rather than the route, you took with
junior hockey? Do you feel that col-
lege is the right way to go right
S: Every family or person who's
in the position to make a choice has
to do what they feel is best for their
individual circumstances. One of
the reasons why I, as a parent, was
pleased that Ryan chose Michigan
is, number one, it's an excellent

school. Number two, it gives him a
chance to live a bit of a normal
lifestyle, where he can live a campus
life, develop, grow up a little bit.
Number three, playing in the OHL
(Ontario Hockey League), because
he's my son, and we have a name in
the hockey world, it attracts that
much more attention at the OHL
level. He would be a target of the
media and players and fans, a lot
more than he would be playing here
in the NCAA. I also think if you're
going to be a player and play in the

level and do well?
S: Proud, and a lot of satisfac-
tion, all that hard work, it's all kind
of paying off for him. The Montreal
Forum (where the 1992 NHL draft
was held), is a special place for me.
The Montreal Forum is a special
place for a lot of people in hockey
and for Ryan to be drafted there by
the Flyers was even more special, a
team that I played for. One of the
things that leads up to the draft,
there's a lot of hype, you're doing a
lot of interviews, you're talking to

played you weren't drafted until you
were nineteen or twenty years of
age, in your last year of Juniors.
Now the kids are drafted a lot
younger, at age eighteen, and I think
there's more pressure on you be-
cause of that. Back then you knew
you were going to play junior
hockey for three years and then you
were drafted. At the same time, I try
to remind Ryan it's just another step
in the climb to make it, to fulfill his
dream to play in the National
Hockey League, and you just have
to realize each step is not easy. It's
difficult, but if you work at it you'll
get to the next step, and that's basi-
cally what my attitude has been all
the way through. It took me two
years in the National Hockey
League to even feel comfortable in
feeling I should be there and I was
twenty-two at the time. Ryan's three
or four years off where I am. We'll
see what happens.
D: How was a player of your
stature traded twice ? Was it at-
tributable to basic differences be-
tween you and owner Harold Ballard
in Toronto and then general manager
Bob Clarke in Philadelphia?
S: I never had any disagreement
with Clarke in Philadelphia. In
Toronto, when I got traded out of
there, I was ready to move on.
Hockey wasn't very much fun for us
anymore. There was a new general
manager, Punch Imlach, and he had
a disagreement with most of the
players on the team. I was ready to
move on to another city. I really en-
joyed playing in Philly. I played
there two and a half years. What
happened in the Clarke situation, he
became the general manager. He
was an ex-teammate and he became
the general manager. He felt that
making that trade was the best thing
to do at the time. The timing of the
trade was most disappointing. It was
the day I was to be named captain of
the team, and it caught me by sur-
prise - it was a real shocker. It was
probably the most disappointing day
of my hockey career, when I got
traded. I left the house that morning
thinking I was going to be named
captain of the team that afternoon at
the luncheon, and I was traded that
D: How would you characterize
your last year in Detroit?
S: When I got there, I broke my
cheekbone, so I wore a mask for a
number of weeks. Then my father
passed away in February, and it was
just one of those difficult years. I
didn't see a lot of ice time. I felt that
the Detroit Red Wings didn't get the
Darryl Sittler they traded for. That
ended up being my last year, be-
cause the Red Wings bought out my
contract at the end of the year.
That's how I ended up retiring.

National Hockey League, you'll
make the NHL regardless of what
route you go. If that's your aspira-
tion, if you play junior hockey or
NCAA hockey, you'll still make it,
What I think is important for Ryan
to do is to keep working and just let
the chips fall where they may. With
comparing junior hockey to NCAA,
if you get a few years of school un-
der your belt, you can decide
whether you're ready to sign a pro
contract or not. If you're playing
junior hockey at age nineteen, you
finish playing juniors, and then
you've got to make a decision to go
to the minors, or go to Europe to
play, or whatever. This way he can
stay in -school until he's ready to
turn pro.
D: At the NHL draft you were a
bit emotional when Ryan was
picked. What does it mean to you to
see him picked so high and by the
Flyers, a team you played for? What
does it mean to you as a father to
watch him play at the Division I

all the NHL teams. It's kind of a
buildup for about two months previ-
ous to the draft, and when it actu-
ally happened, and when he was
drafted as high as he was, it was
very emotional for all of us, and we
were happy for him. When he scored
his goal tonight (against Western
Michigan), there was a special feel-
ing that went through me knowing
how much the game means to him,
and how much he loves it and the
satisfaction that it gives him from
playing well. I'm very proud of him
to see him score that goal tonight.
D: How would you compare
Ryan's game to yours at the same
S: Well, Ryan and I play two
different positions. I played center,
he plays left wing. He's a little big-
ger than I was at that age. It's hard
for me to compare us. I played ju-
nior hockey and I was always a top
scorer on the teams I played with, all
the way through - peewee, bantam,
midget and then in junior. When I

Hunter moves on
to captain new ship
You get the idea that Freddie Hunter is some sort of Christmas
present. A big, ear-to-ear grin bundled up in a shiny red ribbon.
Here. Take him. He will bring you much joy.
Freddie Hunter belongs to someone else now. He is no longer only
ours, no longer only our special belonging. He has moved on. And like
the best of them are apt to do, he has done it quietly.
Preferred Provider Organization of Michigan (PPOM), a health care
insurance operation based in Southfield, now can claim Freddie Hunter
as a member of its team. Apparently, he has been as a big of a find for
Richard Rogel, the chief executive officer of PPOM, as he was for
Michigan basketball coach Steve Fisher.
"He's been everything I expected - and more," Rogel said,
sounding a lot like an eager child unwrapping a new toy. "He's been just
So great, in fact, that come the ninth of November, Hunter will begin
his job as co-manager of PPOM's new satellite office in South Bend,
Ind. Rogel's company, which was the largest small business in the state
of Michigan in 1990, currently has offices in Grand Rapids, and in
Toledo and Dayton, Ohio.
Expansion into Indiana is the next step. And Rogel decided that
Freddie Hunter will be going down to South Bend, leading the charge.
Heading into "Notre Dame territory," as Freddie puts it.
But he won't be alone. Rogel added not one, but two, former
Michigan basketball players to his roster this summer. Chip Armer is
headed to South Bend as well.
You get the idea that the guy might be a Michigan fan?
"Yes. Oh, yes," Rogel says, offering the fact that he graduated from
Michigan in the 1960s as a form of explanation.
"He had seen some of the things we had done on the court," said
Hunter, who is living in Ypsilanti while he is still working in Southfield.
"And whether it figured into things or not, how you carry yourself on the
court or off the court - that is important as far as peoples' perceptions
of you.
"After the season, both Chip and I were job hunting. We both
happened to get a job reference for PPOM. (Rogel) granted us an
interview. And we went in there and showed we were of worth to him."
The modesty in those words is a bit awkward. And Rogel tells the
story with a slightly different spin.
"I was just so impressed with Freddie," Rogel said. "He is so deter-
mined, so dedicated. And he is very articulate."
And on Rogel went. Compliments heaped upon commendations. But
the highest is this latest promotion.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," said Hunter, who was also courted
by Proctor & Gamble last spring. "It just shows a lot of faith and respect
on the part of the CEO in Chip and myself; in what we've done since
we've been here.
"I relish the opportunity. It's a great challenge, and I'm ready to go at
it 100 percent."
Ready, in part, because of what PPOM is all about. They still help
defray health care costs just like other Health Maintenance
Organizations (HMO), but they do it with a different philosophy.
"I think the three things (Rogel) said that are the driving force behind
the company are, 'The patient is first, the patient is first, the patient is
The team, the team, the team.
The two mottos don't sound much different. Maybe athletics does
have some relationship with the real world, after all.
"We offer a lot more freedom for the patient. As long as we keep
serving the patient, then I'm happy," said Hunter, who graduated in May
with a double-major in psychology and sociology.
In the six months since, he has tapped into a gold mine of
The PPOM network now consists of 80 hospitals, 6,000 physicians,
and about 500,000 eligible patients. It is the largest PPO in the state of
Michigan. And Freddie Hunter and Chip Armer are to be captains of the
newest ship in the fleet.
"It'll be our responsibility to start a network, because we have to get
physicians, and then when we get a physician network we can start
recruiting to employers."
The heart of the PPO is the network. This is a bit of company propa-
ganda that Hunter will gladly spread.
In South Bend, he and Armer will give the speech hundreds of times.
Their first job will be to recruit physicians who will agree to accept their
fee screens, which are PPOM's reimbursement for procedural codes.
"Then we can recruit employer groups and different companies,"
Hunter said. "They can have their patients go to our network. It reduces
health care costs tremendously."
And that is the name of the game. Reducing costs.
"Since we don't pay any claims, we just set our screens," Hunter
said. "And since we don't control any money, our only driving force is
to be effective in cutting health care costs and servicing our doctors."
He's gone from cutting down the lane to cutting health care costs,
seemingly in no time. And while he is starting to fill the scrapbooks with
new accomplishments, the memories of his last two years at Michigan
haven't all faded away.
What does he remember most?

"Video-wise, seeing Juwan (Howard) start doing the Cabbage Patch
after we beat Ohio State to get to the Final Four. That always sticks in
my mind."
But the rest, he says, is just a jumbled, emotional flashback.
"It was short, but sweet," he says. "I feel lucky just to have gotten the
chance to do that.
"Just as a student to get a chance to walk on and experience all the
joy I had as a player, plus all the friendships I made with the players and
coaches. I'm definitely blessed in that respect."
The blessings came as a result of some hard work, though. Freddie
Hunter almost never made it.
He came to Michigan as a good student from a good high school
(University of Detroit Jesuit). But his grades faltered early on, and he
transferred to U-M Dearborn to work on his grades, taking classes part-
time and working to pay for his tuition.
He came back with new determination. Not just to graduate, but to
play basketball, too. And when all was said and done, he had done both.
He took full course-loads, and captained a team that advanced to the
NCAA championship game.
Those are the sort of experiences that define a leader, Rogel says, as
he discusses why Hunter has joined the company's fasttrack. Hunter
"It was a great experience," said Hunter, who plans to go back and
get his Master's degree once he gets settled in. "It taught me a lot about
myself and about relating with people. It'll be nothing but a plus for me

Davidson, 'M' spikers
badger Wisconsin, 3-1

by Scott Burton
Riding the wave of hot play by
Fiona Davidson, the Michigan wom-
en's volleyball team continued its
mid-season resurgence Friday night,
taking out Wisconsin in four intense,
emotion-packed games.
With the win, the Wolverines
swept their season-series with the
Badgers for the first time in eight
years. Their Big Ten record im-
proved to 8-4, 15-6 overall.
More important than the Big Ten
standings, however, was the fact that
the win sent a strong message to the
NCAA selection committee. With its
performance this weekend, Michigan
is hoping to prove it belongs among
the top eight teams in its region that
qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Michigan was ranked ninth going
into the match.
The first game against Wisconsin
featured remarkable play from
Davidson, who helped her team
come back from a early 4-0 deficit.
She pounded four kills in the span of
n~,cht nasw to Iand Miri to P'itvht

consin's serve, lent her hand in sev-
eral key blocks, and capped a nine-
point run with a service ace. Chris
White then closed the game at 15-6
with a service ace.
Michigan finished its domination
of the match in the fourth game.
Wisconsin managed only three kills
and clinched the contest for the Wol-
verines with a net violation at match-
point, giving Michigan a 15-4 win.
Davidson finished with impres-
sive totals for the match. She ap-
proached a career high in blocks-
with eight, racked-up 15 kills against
only three errors for a sparkling .521
hitting percentage, and added two
The rest of the Wolverines had
similarly strong performances. Setter
Tarnisha Thompson totaled 42 as-
sists and blasted two, monstrous kills.
Outside hitters JoAnna Collias and
Michelle Horrigan added 11 kills
each, with Collias recording 19 digs.
For the Wolverines, the match
represented what the players have
been aiming for for the entire sea-

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