The Canadiens didn’t pile up 100 years of history without the blood, sweat and tears of the over 750 players to have ever worn the uniform. From the likes of Donald Audette to Zarley Zalapski, there are former Habs scattered all over the world. Although many hardcore Canadiens fans can rattle off the career accomplishments of hundreds of their old heroes, the question remains: what are these guys up to today? On the hot seat today: Brian Hayward.
Where do you live now?
I’ve been living in Orange County, CA, since I started playing for the San Jose Sharks in the early ‘90s.
What are you doing now?
I’ve been in the broadcasting business for almost 20 years. After putting an end to my playing career in 1993, the Sharks had just fired their TV color guy and they asked me if I wanted to give it a try. Just for fun I did and I guess it went okay! But I didn’t really look at it as a career option for me. Instead I was planning on going back to Cornell University to earn my MBA in business. But the folks at Disney, who had just been awarded an NHL franchise in Anaheim, told me that someone sent them a tape of my work and they wanted to hire me. I was kind of surprised and I actually turned the job down a couple times. But they were persuasive and here we are, almost 20 years later and I still have the job and I’m very grateful they convinced me. I’m also involved in a mobile development business. When the iPhone was first introduced and people were wondering about all the different apps and the potential they had, I had some discussions about it with a bunch of developers here in California and we had an idea about putting together a mobile application for hockey teams. We took our idea to Henry Samueli, who owns the Ducks and is the founder of another company in that field, and he and his team were really interested. It’s grown from there.
How many times per year do you lace up the skates?
For almost a decade after I retired, my back was so bad I didn’t dare go back on the ice. As medical technology changed, I was able to get a new procedure done to my back that really helped me. Three years ago, I started playing pickup games with our staff here and I actually joined a men’s league for fun. I’m the oldest player and perhaps the slowest defenseman in the league, too!
Are you still in touch with any former teammates from your Montreal days?
I see guys periodically. I ran into Shayne Corson this summer in Barrie. I’ve seen Brian Skrudland a couple times on the road since he’s working for the Florida Panthers. I’ve seen a number of guys through the years, mostly hockey related. I’ll probably see Larry Robinson more often since he just joined the San Jose Sharks.
Do you still follow the Canadiens?
I would say on a pretty limited basis. When you’re in the business that I’m in, you’re following every team to a certain extent. But my focus is predominantly on the Western Conference now, so I don’t see the Canadiens that often.
What’s the one thing about Montreal you miss the most?
It has to be the energy of the city. I used to live on Nuns Island during my time in Montreal and my wife and I had the greatest time over there.
The restaurants, the nightlife and living that close to the energy of downtown; as a player you can never replace the thrill and the energy of playing in front of a packed house like it was every game at the Forum. That’s something you miss for the rest of your life. I consider it to have been a real special privilege to have played in that city.
What is your favorite piece of Canadiens memorabilia you own?
In my office I still have the William M. Jennings trophies that Pat Roy and I won during my tenure. I also really like one of my old Canadiens masks that’s been repainted and that I hung on one of the walls of my office.
Is there a game in particular from your career with the Canadiens that stands out the most?
I don’t know if I can pick just one game, but probably the highlight personally for me was during the 1986-87 playoffs. The Quebec Nordiques had a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games in Montreal. Patrick Roy had started the series, but I took over in Game 3 in Quebec City, and we were able to come back and win that series in seven games in what was a pretty emotionally charged series – like they always were with the Nordiques.
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