Douglas “Brad” Park, who was elected in his first year of eligibility to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, was at the Olympic Center on Saturday, Oct. 22, mixing it up with fans of all ages.
The 63-year-old Toronto native said Lake Placid is a focal point of hockey.
“There’s so much history, positive history, associated with this place,” Park said. “The 1980 Olympic team, the 1932 games — it’s sort of the grass roots of where hockey blossomed in the United States.”
Park played defense for the New York Rangers from 1968 to 1975 before being traded in a blockbuster deal that sent him and center Jean Ratelle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.
Throughout his career, Park was often compared to Orr because both men brought offensive flare to the position of defenseman. Park is also credited for rejuvenating a stagnant Boston squad after his arrival in the mid-1970s.
Coached by Don Cherry, Park shifted his style of play in Boston and focused more on defense. Between 1977 and 1979, the Bruins notched three division titles, and Park was named to the All-Star squad twice. In 1977 and 1978, the Bruins appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals twice, both times losing to the Montreal Canadiens.
In 2011, the Bruins beat the Canadiens and later ousted the Canucks to hoist the Stanley Cup. Park said he was happy for his former team.
“The fans loved it,” he said. “As an ex-player, you always appreciate where guys come from, where they go, how teams do. They were at the right place at the right time, and they had the best goaltender in the world.”
That goalie, Tim Thomas, and the Bruins stopped in Lake Placid in April between games three and four of their series against the Canadiens.
Park described Boston hockey as a mix of grit and skill.
“It’s a blend of hard-nosed-ness and determination,” he said. “You go until you can’t go anymore.”
Park now lives in Massachusetts with his wife. He has five children and four grandchildren, and he said he enjoys retirement.
“I’m a free agent looking for compensation,” Park joked.
Chris Morris/Lake Placid News
Young hockey players crowd around Brad Park, a Hall of Fame defenseman who played for the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins, during a special event Saturday, Oct. 22 in Lake Placid.