February 03, 2015

My Interview With @HaroldBallard

Controversial. Cantankerous. Compelling.

Harold Ballard was one of hockey's true villains, and certainly not in the most likeable way. He ruined the Toronto Maple Leafs. He feuded with players and management and media. He disrespected women - including the Queen. He even called his own daughter a "reptile."

Pal Hal was one of a kind. There weren't too many hockey fans shed a tear when Ballard passed away 25 years ago.

But it seems Ballard is making a return of sorts. And it is comedic gold.

@HaroldBallard is on Twitter and he has been zinging some true gems. Here's a sample.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with @HaroldBallard. We talked about his emergence on social media, his memories of the Leafs and the Queen's portrait that mysteriously disappeared.

1) You have recently returned to public view, via Twitter. Why Twitter?

That curly haired kid at Facebook wouldn’t cut me in on the revenue. Besides, reception isn’t that reliable down here.

2) What else is Harold Ballard up to these days?

Besides trying to get Bettman to name a major award after me, I’m working on setting up the Ukraine Hockey League. These guys will play for potatoes.

3) What do you think of the plight of the Toronto Maple Leafs these days? What will it take to fix the Leafs?

What needs fixing? Revenue has never been higher, same thing for seat prices. If I could fix one thing it would be to convince these kids to not have too many lawyers around when they sign the contracts.

4) Who is your favorite player?

Anyone not named Carl Brewer. But if you make me pick, I’ll say Wendel Clark. That kid delivered in every facet of the game, and didn’t complain once about washing the car on Mondays. He’d never whine about money to the dirty newsmen, either.

5) What do you think of Russian players playing for the Leafs and in the NHL?

They had to wait until I croaked to do it, that should say it all. Mogilny was on that junior squad that tried to hide in the dark in ’87. They should all be back in the KGBHL.

6) What do you think of how they renovated Maple Leaf Gardens? Do you ever shop there?

I tried to talk Steve Stavro into the same thing years ago, but he had to bring in all of these engineers and city twerps who had some problems with what they called “safety issues.” I bet with a new arena funded by the city, we each could have pulled off a new boathouse in the deal.

Bill, the ingrate, still wanders around in the basement because he thinks he’ll find a chest with cash. Yolanda keeps leaving 2 dollar bills here and there just to tick him off.

I don’t shop there, who the hell needs roasted pear salad?

7) What did you ever do with the giant picture of the Queen, anyway?

Saved some dough on practice jerseys. King Clancy wants to use a piece as a tablecloth in case Duke Phil comes to town, but I’ll be damned (further) if he steps foot in my house.

8) Do you ever get back in contact with Darryl Sittler? How about Dave Keon?

Sittler was a good, fairly smart boy who just got given terrible advice. He needed a reminder that getting your name in a record book doesn’t mean you get to call the shots in this business. Keon….Keon…reminds me of a real estate agent but I can’t place it…

9) Is there any chance you are planning on reacquiring the Leafs?

Those Rogers pretty boys are in a serious hole. There’ll be outdoor skating down here before they get that 5 billion (didn’t even know that was a number) back. In a decade or so, I'll make a lowball offer and return the team where it belongs: still out of the playoffs, but with the lowest payroll.

10) Tell us your favorite moment as owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The greatest pleasure I had was watching the little veins in John Bassett’s temple bulge when he found out I dimmed the lights at those Toros games. The Whiny Hockey League never recovered, and John needed 2 weeks in Boca.

That 1977 team brought in some decent playoff dough, too.

Follow @HaroldBallard on Twitter

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