Sunday, January 27, 2008

ALL-STAR EMAIL Q & A: Pat Verbeek

In the oddball category of the players I most respected that wore the uniforms of the Devils and Rangers, Pat Verbeek - the Little Ball of Hate - would be near the top of the list. To some, he was the ultimate over-achiever. Now he's a regular in the Coliseum press box as a scout for the Red Wings and I wonder if he could ever find a player with half his heart. My respect for Pat is so deep, I will get over the fact that he listed Kirk Muller as one of his favorite teammates.

Who were your favorite linemates through the years?

Chris, I had a few favorites through the years. Here they are: Kirk Muller, Aaron Broten, Ron Francis, Kevin Dineen, Andrew Cassels, Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Joe Nieuwendyk.

You didn't get selected by the Devils until the 42nd overall pick, but went on to play more than 1,400 NHL regular season games and score 522 goals. Now you're a scout yourself for the Red Wings. Can you find the kind of intangibles you had as a player by scouting from the press box?

Scouting in today's game is a little different than in past years because of the rule changes. There is more of an emphasis on skating than in past years, but you still have to look at skill level, hockey sense and heart of a player. Is he willing to compete on a nightly basis? That you can scout from the press box.

Who was the toughest Islander you went up against as a player? I remember you and Rick Pilon having some good battles around the net.

In the early years of my career playing against the Islanders not only did they have a talented team but they had a tough team. Clark Gillies, Bob Nystrom, Denis Potvin - the Islanders had someone on every shift you would have to deal with. It made hockey very interesting.

One thing about the Islanders playing them in their heyday was being able to watch Mike Bossy play the game. Watching him seven times a year score a lot of goals against us really helped me be able to score. I watched where he put the puck, where he went to score. It was quite a learning experience.

Islanders fans have very fond memories of Benoit Hogue from the early '90s. What do you remember about Benny as a teammate in Dallas in the late '90s?

First of all, Benny was an underrated player. Second, he was a tough son of a gun. I saw that first-hand when he played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 Game Six with no ACL. It showed me his willingness to compete and how much he cared about winning.

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