From Marty McSorley's stories of intimidation to Scott Schultz's reason for quitting hockey to the antics of Jungle Jim Jerome, there were more than enough laughs to be had at the Estevan Bruins' annual sportsman's dinner Friday at Spectra Place.
After being used as an arena fundraiser for the last five years, the sportsman's dinner returned to the Bruins and it paid dividends for the club, which made well over $70,000.
Although some expenses were still being tallied on Monday, the total was expected to be closer to $80,000.
McSorley, Schultz and former Winnipeg Jets star Morris Lukowich were the speakers at the dinner, while Jerome, a former Edmonton radio personality, came with McSorley to deliver some comedy and take questions from the floor for the former NHL tough guy.
Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play man Rod Pedersen was the emcee for the evening.
Estevan and District male and female athletes of the year and coach of the year were announced at the dinner.
ECS Elecs quarterback Kolby Fleury was named male athlete of the year, Alameda competitive figure skater Shelby Hall earned the female honour and Estevan Chargers head coach Steve McLellan was named the volunteer coach of the year.
The live auction featured items including a trip for two to the 2013 NHL Winter Classic, jerseys autographed by McSorley, Schultz and Lukowich, a replica Stanley Cup signed by Jonathan Toews, and a Toronto Blue Jays uniform signed by Brett Lawrie. It brought in $46,300.
The silent auction raised over $11,000.
"The speakers all did a really good job and we were very happy with all of them," said Bruins marketing manager Becky Tait. "McSorley was a really great headliner. He's not a super-highly sought after speaker, but I think he will be now. It really meant a lot to the club for those guys to come out; they did a great job and helped us make all that money."
During his speech, McSorley described the Bruins' dressing room as "marvellous" and said it was better than any he had seen in the Ontario Hockey League.
McSorley, who played 17 years as a defenceman and winger with Edmonton, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, San Jose and Boston, spoke about the unique role of protecting Wayne Gretzky and how he used intimidation to get what he wanted.
In one game, he told the opposing coach to "send (his tough guy) out to fight, or I'm going to kill (your star player)."
Another time, during a game against Detroit in the mid-'90s, McSorley wanted to keep a particular player off the ice, so he told Wings stars Steve Yzerman and Paul Coffey, "If I see him out again, I'll break one of your arms."
McSorley was effectively the successor to legendary tough guy Dave Semenko as Gretzky's bodyguard with the Oilers, and he said Semenko was very supportive of him as a youngster.
"He probably had an inkling that I was going to be the next guy," McSorley said.
In the summer of 1988, Gretzky was sold to the Los Angeles Kings in a trade that rocked the hockey world. Gretzky specifically asked for McSorley to be included in the deal to continue to protect him on the ice.
McSorley was at a golf tournament hosted by Bob Cole in Newfoundland that day. He said the deal was "shocking" and it took him half a year to get over it.
McSorley noted that being dealt to a major, non-hockey market gave Gretzky a heavy responibility to help grow the sport.
"That trade really made the game non-regional. So I think that Wayne knew with all the work he had, he really wanted to know he had someone covering his backside and looking out for him," McSorley said in an interview with the Mercury. "And I think he believed that I would be willing to do that. I was grateful for him in trusting me to do that. It was really a different time for both of us and I think I continued to grow because of that experience."
McSorley also voiced strong views on the place of fighting in hockey.
"I think that fighting has a place. I think that fighting kept a lot of the little possible injuries out of the game. It really kept guys honest when they knew they had to answer to people on the ice," he said.
"We've seen some hits during the course of the playoffs that were really not clean. Going back 20 years, I don't know if those hits would have happened because of how you had to answer for it."
McSorley argued against heavier deterrents to fighting.
"If they start to do that, there are going to be more injuries. Because let's not kid ourselves, there are more injuries now because they've taken fighting out than what fighting caused. That's a fact.
"Guys are not answerable. You see guys that are not courageous that are taking really big liberties. If that continues, then fighting is a necessary evil, in a sense. Really, it is."
He added that with the changes in rules and attitudes, playing in today's game would be much harder for players like him.
"I don't know if I could do that job today. I really don't. I'm being honest. With the rules, the instigator, the way that they're calling it, I don't know if that job can be done right now."
Schultz, meanwhile, told some funny anecdotes from his career and his childhood and spoke about winning the 2007 Grey Cup.
The Moose Jaw native spoke of the community support he felt and still does as one of the most popular Riders in recent memory.
One example came in 2006 when he lit up Toronto Argonauts quarterback Spergon Wynn on a sack, with no flag. However, he was later fined $1,500 by the CFL.
During an appearance on a Regina radio station, a caller made a donation toward Schultz's fine, one thing turned into another and within half an hour about $2,700 had been collected.
Schultz expanded on that support in an interview with the Mercury.
"It's more than a warmth. It's that whole idea, the myth or the lore is that the whole province is behind the Riders and they really are," he said.
"When you go out as an (alumnus) or a player to these communities, small or big, they appreciate it so much, because it is the only pro game in town and everyone gets behind it. You just feel it. You can't help but get a smile on your face for how people react."
Schultz said that despite his football camp in Estevan this Saturday being cancelled, he hopes to do one next year during the minor football season with fellow Rider alumni Matt Dominguez and Mike Abou-Mechrek.
Lukowich began the program by speaking about his 11-year career in the NHL and WHA, which was spent mostly with the Winnipeg Jets.
Lukowich said he felt he got a better look from teams at higher levels because of his cousin Bernie Lukowich's success with the Bruins in the early 1970s.