From the pipes to the mic and some funny stories in between: John Garrett
Informally known as Cheech for resembling one half of Grammy Award–winning comedy duo Cheech and Chong, Petes alumnus John Garrett has cemented himself in the world of broadcasting on the West Coast.
Garrett joined the Petes in 1969 as the backup goalie to Bruce Landon, playing 99 games in Maroon and White.
Wedged on the list of his most memorable moments with the Petes, the former goalie recalls coming to the rescue of Colin Campbell when the defenceman faced off against Steve Durbano in front of his net.
“I remember we were playing a game against the Marlies; Durbano was playing with the Marlies and Coli was a stocky guy but not very big, and Durbano was a big rough and tough guy. Steve was taking his liberties with him, so I jumped in and helped Coli. Coli always reminds me that I ‘saved his life’ that time.”
Garrett was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 1971 and played for their affiliate team, the Kansas City Blues, in the Central Hockey League in his initial season.
“I went to their camp, back then there was six years of training camp and now it’s limited to 21 days and we only played 2 or 3 exhibition games. There were 13 goalies at camp, they would invite everybody.”
The following year Garrett hopped over to the WHA and signed with the Minnesota Fighting Saints where he had the opportunity to play with the real Hanson Brothers from the legendary hockey movie Slapshot.
“We had the three Carlson brothers – Jack, Justin and Steve – who became the Hanson brothers. It was a really tough team, we kind of lived Slapshot.”
Garrett joined the Toronto Toros in 1975 and relocated with the organization to Birmingham as they rebranded as the Bulls, picking up some comical anecdotes as the team navigated some financial hardships.
“After not being paid for six weeks, the players would have meetings every day and discuss if we would play again if we don’t get paid. We had a road trip coming up and we said ‘Listen, we are not going until we get our meal money.’”
“We get to the airport and the owner comes and he has a brown bag of money and goes to the general manager and the coach with it. They counted our meal money on the plane going to Cincinnati.”
“The stewards on the plane saw all this money and they thought they robbed a convenience store, so they had the police meet us at the airport to make sure the money was legitimate. Just your local everyday robbers.”
In 1979 Garrett returned to the NHL with the Hartford Whalers where he got his first taste of being in front of the camera before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Within his initial week with the Canucks, Garrett faced a whirlwind of on ice appearances in response to an injury with Vancouver’s starting goalie
“I met the Canucks in Toronto, they played Toronto on a Saturday, Pittsburgh on a Sunday and the All-Star game in Long Island on a Tuesday.
“Richard Brodeur was the goalie, and he got hit in the head and broke his ear drum. I ended up playing the rest of the game then the game in Pittsburgh and because there was such limited time between then and the All-Star game and Brodeur was supposed to be the All-Star goalie, they just decided to let me go.”
At the All-Star game Garrett came within minutes of being named MVP, however it was The Great One, Wayne Gretzaky, that ultimately prevented him from acquiring the title.
“We come back and we make it 3-2 and reporters have to pick the MVP. They are doing it at the ten minute mark of the third period and there’s no one doing it well other than me. The reporters put my name down and I’m about to win a Trans Am.”
“Then Gretzky came out with about eight minutes left and he proceeded to score four goals, he almost scored every shift he had. So there went my car.”
Shortly after Garrett retired from playing he had the opportunity to utilize his practice of analyzing games in between periods in Hartford to a full time role with Hockey Night in Canada.
“The timing was good and they liked what I was doing and I have been doing it ever since.”
In 1998 Garrett joined Sportsnet and has been a studio analyst on national broadcast and since 2002 Garrett has served as the colour commentator for the Canucks on Sportsnet Pacific and has no intention of slowing down.
The Petes alumnus’ career has been marked with some theatrical moments made for movies, with a cast of characters who have shaped his personality to be perfect for TV.