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April 08, 2016

Cam Connor

376 penalty minutes in his only season of junior hockey. 676 more penalty minutes in 211 minor league games. 904 PIMs in 274 games in the World Hockey Association. And 256 minutes served in 89 NHL games.

It does not take a lot of imagination to figure out what kind of a player Cam Connor was.

What else would you expect from a kid who grew up sparring and grappling with his childhood friend - Rowdy Roddy Piper.

"We became good buddies," Connor told Tal Pinchevsky in a NHL.com exclusive. "We hitchhiked to Toronto together. I was with him his first day he got into wrestling at a local circuit in Winnipeg. He fought all over the world and had me come and meet him. I was there when he fought Mr. T. I was in the fifth row sitting there with Billy Crystal."

While Connor made more than a few enemies on the ice, he was relatively anonymous off of it.

"Rod was always the bad guy in wrestling," Connor said. "He has been knifed three times by fans. So when we went to a bar he would sit up against a wall because he always had to keep an eye on who was around him. We were like brothers. He'd jump in for me and I'd jump in for him. There were many nights we got in scraps together against bikers and different groups of guys."

As proven by the penalty minute totals, Connor knew how to handle himself in such situations.

But he could play the game, too. He had a 35 goal season in the WHA. In his first season in the NHL he won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1979.

But Connor could not finish those playoffs. He ended up with quite possibly the worst case of food poisoning you will ever hear of. He was bed-ridden for days with intense pain in his back. The poisoning then turned into a serious intestinal infection.

The infection continued to plague him in training camp the next year. He was with Edmonton by that point, as the Oilers selected Connor with their very first pick in the 1979 expansion draft. But he would struggle out of the gate and finish the year with the New York Rangers.

Connor would make brief appearances with the Rangers over the next three seasons but never could stick. He spent most of his time in the minor leagues until he retired in 1974.

At that point Connor returned to Edmonton, and became a computer consultant.

Not bad for a guy who spent part of his youth getting beat up by Rowdy Roddy Piper.

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