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Famed 'Slap Shot' character based on minor league tough guy
Liam Maguire quickly knew there was a story to tell.
He did a radio interview with Bill (Goldie) Goldthorpe in 2017 and six weeks later met him in person in Kingston, Ont.
From their conversations he knew there was a market for a book on the man who was the inspiration for Ogie Oglethorpe in the 1977 classic hockey movie “Slap Shot” that is still popular with today’s players.
While Goldthorpe was a rugged player who would drop the mitts as quick as look at you, he could score goals and was beloved by his teammates.
But hockey was only part of his story.
At one time he had to be picked up from jail for practices and games while serving one of his sentences.
Street fights, bar fights, being shot at by a drug dealer and being stabbed while stopping a man from beating up a woman are all segments of his colourful life.
“I know what I did in my lifetime – it’s unusual,” Goldthorpe said Thursday.
Which made Maguire ask him why a book hadn’t been written about him.
“A couple of guys kicked the tires, they just never followed through,” Maguire said was Goldthorpe’s response. “I said, ‘Will you give me the chance to follow through’? He said, ‘Yeah, sure’. And we shook hands.”
“The Real Olgie! The Life and Legend of Goldie Goldthorpe” was the result of their work over the past couple of years.
Maguire said Goldthorpe is a straight shooter. He enjoyed their interviews and as he sat down to write the book thought of injecting some colour. Maybe the weather or another detail, but he quickly realized none of that mattered.
What mattered was obvious.
“Either when he got to rink or after the game that night there was . . . mayhem,” he said. “And shit happened. Women were crying and bodies were flying.”
Goldthorpe played in numerous leagues for various teams, making it as high as a 33-game stint over a couple of seasons in the World Hockey Association. There would be no call to the NHL, even though Goldthorpe believes he was as tough as the guys in the top hockey league.
“At the end, I was untouchable. Off-the-ice activities didn't help and going to jail didn't help,” he said. “Nobody wanted to put their head on the line.”
Goldthorpe was in too many fights to count.
He doesn’t remember the wins. Only the losses stick with him.
“It’s not really how many you win, it’s what you go back for. If you lose one round, you don't give up. Now, if you lose five in a row, you should find a new career, right?”
People have a hard time finding a comparison for Goldthorpe. One person in the book came up with the Sylvester Stallone character John Rambo from the movie “Rambo.”
“You knew at the end of the day he would be the last man standing and that’s Goldie Goldthorpe,” Maguire said. “He perceives a threat and he eliminates the threat.”
While many people know Maguire because of “Slap Shot” he was not immediately a fan.
“I never got my part and I wouldn't watch it,” he said.
An incident in the dressing room led to Goldthorpe not getting the gig and Ned Dowd ended up playing Oglethorpe. Twelve years after its release, Goldthorpe finally watched the film. He has reconciled and now does promotional events with the cast.
He doesn't watch much of today’s NHL, which he says lacks toughness.
“There are a few guys that still can fight and are really strong guys,” he said, but “You can do anything to guys now and nobody can go and help them. They run numbers like crazy in the NHL now. Nobody has any respect for each other.”
He said he would like to see the centre-ice line put back in for the safety of defencemen, to improve competitiveness and eliminate the one long pass to get out out of the defensive zone.
Need to know
“The Real Ogie! The Life and Legend of Goldie Goldthorpe”
What – A new book about former minor league hockey player Bill (Goldie) Goldthorpe. It is published by Burnstown Publishing House and was released April 5.
By the numbers
About 30 photos
Book signing – Sherwood Timbermart on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.