Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brushes with Habness - Ric Nattress

Brushes With Habness is a new feature here on FHF, where we, the FHF, tell you riveting stories about our brushes with Habs and people in the Habs family. Basically, some filler while we wait for the damn season to start.

Yeah, that's right. Ric Nattress.

Now, some of you may remember ol' Ric as a Flame getting railroaded (ahem, ELBOWED) by Mark Messier and making Don Cherry's Rock Em Sock Em tapes as he wobbled back to the bench. You may remember him joining the Leafs as part of the huge Doug Gilmour/Gary Leeman trade, or as Jaime Macoun's stunt double. You may not know that he was a Habs draftee, or that we once got drunk together. But it's true.

Bracebridge, Ontario, summer, mid-1990's. At my buddy's cottage, drinking before hitting the bar. Our friend Rob is meeting us there after finishing up his round of golf ... (insert your own "nice life you rich Ontarians are leading" comment here) but mentions he's bringing along one of his playing partners. Someone's nephew. Some hockey player.

Group mindset at the cottage: "Great, some Junior A dickhead to babysit through the night. Evening ruined as we make sure Mr. Hockey Hotshot doesn't get thrown out a window by locals."

Cottage door swings open. In steps Rob with the very large, very mustachioed, very much older than us hockey player, the recently retired Ric Nattress. Former Leaf, Flyer, Flame, Blue and Canadien Ric Nattress. Much strangeness ensues.

Now, this sort of thing is a little awkward. We all knew who Ric Nattress was, what with most of the guys in the cottage being Leaf fans. And while "Ric Nattress" isn't the first name out of your mouth when someone says "name a former NHL player", he's still a former NHL player. Everyone tried to keep cool as the introductions went around the room, because c'mon, it's Ric Nattress ... but on the other hand, we've all been drinking and it's Ric Freakin Nattress, man!

Turns out, Ric is a great guy. He settled into a chair, had a beer and started answering goofy questions. He showed us a fake Stanley Cup ring he claims he got in 1989 with the Flames (funny, I must have missed that ... can't remember a thing about that year.) He told us about rooming with Guy Lafleur as a rookie, and finding a crate of cigarettes on his bed the day after Guy asked him if he wanted some freebies. He talked about the time Guy was so loaded/hungover at practice no one could stand beside him because of the smell. He told us he thought Messier was the dirtiest player in the league. He forgave my friend Tim (still bitter about the inept Leafs D in the 93' semifinal against the Kings) for continually referring to Jaime Macoun as "JAIME FUCKING MACOUN!!!". And when we got to the bar, beer kept materializing on the table courtesy of the big, friendly mustachioed fella. I think if we had ended up in one of the night-ending brawls our local watering hole was famous for, Ric would have put us all in a bear hug and carried us to safety. Yes, Ric wasn't a Hab for long, but the greatness of Les Glorieux certainly rubbed off on him.

Stay tuned for our next mindless filler edition of Brushes with Habness, as HF29 talks about the time his Dad told him Dave Manson screams like a little girl, or HF10 waxes poetic about seeing John LeClair in a Tim Horton's parking lot.

Jesus, how much longer til the puck drops?


Vintage HF29 said...

Oh man I am crying with laughter and I have heard that story before! Well told, sir

And I can't believe you brought up Dave Manson. I can't wait to tell that story

Topham said...

Good story. Not surprised he was a nice guy at all, defensive players usually are. It's the goal scoring hotshots that can be pricks...

Also a great way to get a summer Habs story in there, very creative.

Habsfan10 said...

Thanks, topham. Agreed, it's the defensive guys that seem to be good guys across the board.

More Habs summer filler to come, so keep reading!

Anonymous said...

Ah!!!!!! Ric Natress!!!!! Oh my gosh!!!!