Ron Duguay played 864 games in the NHL for the Rangers, Red Wings, Penguins and Kings. In addition to being a professional hockey player, he was known for his long flowing hair, appearing in New York Gossip columns, clothing ads and dancing at Studio 54. He played 864 career NHL games and scored 620 points, he played with some of the greatest players of all time including Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
Duguay was actually drafted in 1976 to the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the WHA draft, but he never made it to Winnipeg.
He appeared on the Rona Roundtable with Rick Ralph on TSN 1290 Winnipeg earlier this week and wondered what his life would be like if he had gone to Winnipeg instead of New York.
“Just to think what my life would have been if I had chosen Winnipeg instead of New York…no tall buildings, no Studio 54. It would have kept me out of trouble, my career would have lasted a lot longer if I would have played in Winnipeg”
On the ice, Duguay had some successful seasons with the Rangers. In 1981-82 he scored 40 goals as a 24 year old. As much as his name was showing up on the scoresheet, it was also showing up in the tabloids. Duguay was romantically linked to Cher, Bianca Jagger, Cheryl Tiegs, Farrah Fawcett and Patty Lupone.
Two years after scoring 40 goals, the Sudbury, Ontario native was traded to the Red Wings. It was the first time in his career he had to change teams. To some, being traded would come as a surprise but the forward was not as his lifestyle clashed with expectations set by Head Coach Herb Brooks.
“I wasn’t surprised because Herb Brooks was the coach at the time and he didn’t appreciate my lifestyle. I had just come off scoring 40 goals in my first season playing him. You would think that the year after he would like me as a player. I think he did, but he didn’t like reading about my social life (in the tabloids). It was a gradual thing where I ended up on the 3rd line in that second year with him. That summer he found a way to trade me. I don’t think he disliked me personally, he just didn’t like who I was.
I sensed that might happen so I wasn’t shocked. I was just shocked that I was going to Detroit. From New York to Detroit, that’s a big difference. A part of me felt like I need to stay focused and be a hockey player. That kept me in a different place where I would go to Detroit and there was an opportunity to play on the top line with Steve Yzerman and John Ogrodnick. I felt like I’ve had some fun in New York, let’s just be a player. And for three years I became a pretty good player in Detroit.”
While Duguay lived the life in the 70s and 80s, it is much different for players today. He says NHLers right now have to be very careful in every way they act.
“You have a lot of eyes on you; you have to be very very careful in what you do. Because it is big business now, it’s just not acceptable anymore for Coaches, Managers and Owners and guys to be out partying. Back then the whole league did it, we all did it. The Coaches did it, the Managers did it. Everyone was out, we were on the road and we partied. It was all acceptable.
Now, it’s big business, there’s a lot of money involved and you just can’t get caught partying. You may do some, but you have to be so careful. You can’t do what we used to do at all.”