Derek “Turk” Sanderson: A Boston Bruins Legend

5 minutes read

Mix a gritty type of play with fast fingers and quick toes, throw in a swagger that sat properly along with his movie-star attractiveness, combine properly along with his fair proportion of nastiness and you’ve got the younger Derek Sanderson, higher identified by his buddies and teammates as “Turk”.

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, he performed his junior hockey for the N.F. Flyers.  In 1965 Turk led his workforce to the Memorial Cup, image of junior hockey supremacy in Canada and in 1967 he was the recipient of the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy because the OHL’s main scorer.

BOSTON, MA – 1972: Derek Sanderson #17 of the Boston Bruins talks with goalies Eddie Johnston #1 and John Adams #31 earlier than their NHL recreation circa 1972 on the Boston Backyard in Boston, Massachusetts. (Picture by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Pictures)

Instinctively, Derek all the time understood the worth of “the massive stage.” In 1966, the Boston Bruins administration, in the course of a cellar-dwelling season, determined to rearrange a recreation within the Boston Gardens between the Sanderson-led Niagara Falls Flyers and the Bobby Orr-led Oshawa Generals to showcase their up and coming expertise.  Profitable that evening was not Sanderson’s agenda; attractive Orr right into a brawl was.  The scouts and the followers took notice.  A yr later the 2 budding superstars had been teammates on the Bruins.

Calder Trophy, Stanley Cup and Hassle

Taking part in with the Bruins in 1967-68, he scored 24 objectives with 25 assists and gained the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the 12 months.

Regardless of taking part in with a Corridor-of Fame lineup in Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and Ed Westfall,


Turk grew to become a fan favourite and to many essentially the most thrilling participant on the ice;  with him on the ice you by no means knew what would occur subsequent.

These early years in Boston had been the apex of his life.  Fame and fortune had come his approach.  He drove a silver Rolls Royce, owned a nightclub, Bachelors Three, in New York and Boston in partnership with Joe Namath and will make fairly an entrance along with his full-length mink coat and a brand new blonde on his arm each evening.

In all probability essentially the most well-known aim in hockey historical past is the profitable tally within the 1970 Bruins Stanley Cup ultimate recreation.  The picture of Bobby Orr flying although the air after whipping the puck previous St. Louis goalie Glenn Corridor in indelibly etched within the minds of most hockey followers, Bruin supporter or not. That good go, zipped from behind the aim line that set Orr up, was from Derek Sanderson.  (See video)

“I made the child well-known,” he joked.

Sanderson to the upstart WHA

After profitable a second Stanley Cup two years later, Boston followers couldn’t consider the information that summer season that Sanderson had jumped to the upstart WHA, signing with the Philadelphia Blazers for two.6 million .  His new deal, that the Bruins wouldn’t match, made him the best paid athlete on the planet at the moment.  Derek did know learn how to seize a headline.

Opening evening in Philadelphia, there was an issue with the ice and pucks saved disappearing beneath the boards.  The referees had been obliged to cancel the sport.  As captain of the Blazers, Derek felt a accountability to clarify the state of affairs to the followers.  As a promotion, the membership had given every patron in attendance a memento orange puck.  As he began his speech at heart ice, one puck was tossed in his path in protest of the cancellation.  Earlier than lengthy, pucks had been raining down and Captain Derek needed to beat a hasty retreat to the dressing room to save lots of his pores and skin.

Sadly, the Philadelphia sortie didn’t have a cheerful ending.  A severe knee harm


six video games into the season laid him up indefinitely.  Just a few smart-alec quotes within the press made his new house owners irate and, earlier than the season was over, the workforce purchased him out for $1 million.  Whereas his rights reverted to the Bruins, they traded him on the finish of the season to the New York Rangers.

Derek’s off-ice troubles with alcohol and medicines had been chipping away at his on-ice abilities.  Slowly he misplaced the magic and for a number of years after he left hockey, he struggled with these addictions.  His life-style finally left him penniless.  In 1980, via the great graces of Bobby Orr, he checked into rehab in Ste. Catherine’s Ontario, and he has been sober ever since.

The Bruins’ group, followers and former teammates rallied round a rehabbed Sanderson and NESN employed him as a shade man on its hockey broadcasts For ten years he labored as a sidekick and shade commentator for Fred Cusick, the Bruins play-by-play man.  After his broadcasting profession, he went to work as a monetary adviser to younger hockey gamers who may expertise the identical dilemmas he did when the “an excessive amount of, too quickly” syndrome hit.

Boston followers keep in mind him fondly.  Turk all the time got here to play, evening after evening.  He was robust as nails.  He and Ed Westfall had been thought of the most effective penalty-kill pair in his period. His fights had been as legendary as his appeal, whereas his smothering fore-checks and tenacity within the corners had been his emblems. On the ice, he did all of it.

Derek Sanderson was actually one-of-a-kind.

** initially printed in July 2010

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