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Healy proves as adaptable off ice as he was on it

Posted: Thursday January 25, 2007 1:31PM; Updated: Thursday January 25, 2007 1:31PM
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Glenn Healy won 166 games and posted a 3.37 GAA in 15 seasons in the NHL.
Glenn Healy won 166 games and posted a 3.37 GAA in 15 seasons in the NHL.
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From his home in the Great White North, hockey goalie-turned-hockey broadcaster Glenn Healy mulls the transaction that laid down the course of his future career. It was yet another confirmation of the First Sporting Law of Psychokinetics, whereby major talent, if unfulfilled, acquires the power of temporarily disabling minor talent that comes within its sphere of influence and impedes its development.

One day in 1993, in obedience to this principle, a series of expansion drafts and trades brought Healy from the unheralded New York Islanders to the heralded New York Rangers. In Nassau Coliseum, he had been the marquee goalie for four seasons, leading the Isles to the third round of the '93 Stanley Cup playoffs. In Madison Square Garden, he would spend four seasons understudying phenom Mike Richter.

"Suddenly, my role became clearly defined," he says. "I was a watcher." Healy watched pretty much for the rest of his NHL career. During his last four seasons, he found intermittent work with Toronto in relief of the great Curtis Joseph.

"You want to play, but the reality is, what you want isn't always what you get, especially when Cujo is in front of you," sighs Healy. "Usually, the only time I got to stand up is for the National Anthem."

In those rare instances when the Maple Leafs needed someone to spell Cujo, they called on Healy. He was like a respected character actor: a masked, stick-wielding equivalent to Peter Lorre or Sydney Greenstreet. Nobody did his schtick better, but he'd never be the straw that stirs the drink.

Six years after retiring from the NHL, the 44-year-old Healy is still watching and still backing up. He and partner Chris Cuthbert are TSN's second-string broadcast team behind Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire.

As the color commentator of the crew, Healy calls about 20 games a season for the Canadian network. He also provides ice-level commentary during Maple Leafs regional broadcasts. "I had to do something  with myself when I left the game," he says. "This is my self-reclamation project."

An exceptionally humble and unaffected guy, Healy accepted the role of an NHL backup, and was comfortable going long stretches without playing. Matchless at keeping sharp and game-ready, he'd skate to the crease quickly, calmly, with a sense of barely suppressed glee. "Glenny has buried every one of his paychecks in his backyard, so he clearly wasn't playing for the loot," Richter says, "He was in it for fun."

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