Sunday, January 4, 2015


Have Gun Will Travel reads the card of a man ... a soldier of fortune is the man called Paladin.

Every prospect needs a calling card to get drafted into the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (NHL).  So sayeth my NHL scout friend, Brad Hornung.  For any junior player to get drafted, that player needs to be the best at doing something.  Besides having skating skills and hockey sense, every junior prospect wanting to get drafted by an NHL team needs a calling card.  It could be that the player is the top goal scorer, the best penalty killer, the smoothest skater, the toughest fighter.  Whatever his skill, he just needs to be the best at what he does.

Whenever I think of calling cards I think of Paladin in the television series, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL (pictured above and from which I blatantly copied for the title of this blog entry).  HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL was the calling card of the seemingly dandy San Franciscan, who was really a soldier of fortune, who would, in every episode, ride the dusty trail dressed in black and a silver colt in his holster. Paladin was a sophisticated gunslinger.


Back to hockey.

It doesn’t just so happen that I know a couple of guys who had calling cards that were enough to get drafted and eventually play in the NHL, LARRY HORNUNG and BILLY LESUK.  Both Larry and Billy were from my hometown.  Both played together on teams as youngsters; both played together in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for the Weyburn Red Wings (1965-66); both played together professionally for the Winnipeg Jets (1975-76).

And both played approximately 400 games for various teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Hockey Association (WHA). Larry played for the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, San Diego Mariners, and St. Louis Blues.  Billy played for the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets.

LARRY (dependable type defenseman ... steady)

Larry played alongside Doug Harvey (considered the best defenseman until Bobby Orr came along), Glen Hall, Bobby Hull, and his coaches included Al Arbour, Freddy Shero, and Scotty Bowman.

BILLY (grit and muscle and good for at least 15 goals a season)

Billy played alongside Phil Esposito, Bobby Clark, and Bobby Orr.  One of his coaches included Harry Sinden.

Larry’s calling card was a “dependable depth type defenseman … steady.”  Billy’s calling card was “grit and muscle and good for at least 15 goals a season.”

A calling card is descriptive of a quality or achievement that gives someone an advantage. Everyone needs a calling card for some degree of self perseverance and social success.  This was even true for Larry and Billy whereupon their return to the comparatively quaint lifestyle from whence they came (both had humble bug-tussle beginnings).  Their pedestrian calling cards became simply … They played in the NHL.   

I should mention that after their playing days, both Larry and Billy continuously crossed paths in their hockey careers as NHL scouts.  Larry scouted for the Winnipeg Jets (Billy, too), Arizona Coyotes (Billy too), and finally the Toronto Maple Leafs until he passed away.  Billy scouted with Larry for the Winnipeg Jets, and with Larry for the Arizona Coyotes, without Larry while scouting for the Chicago Black Hawks, and the Boston Bruins until he retired just a year ago.

(I should also mention that Billy, during one of his last visits while Larry was in hospital, said to his lifetime friend and hockey team mate,"This is just another example of the forwards having to come back and help out the defense," to which Larry smiled.  I know this ... I was there when he said it.)

I, too, have calling cards.  At work I’m the only counselor (an adequate calling card at best); as a therapist I am a Hypnotherapist (somewhat more intriguing than a regular therapist); and as a busker, I’ve been abroad, busking in Europe (my fifteen minutes of fame to date).

Such calling cards as mine are drams, but they calling cards nonetheless, and they pale in comparison to some of the extraordinary things achieved by everyday ordinary people elsewhere.

Take for example Chinese artist, Liu Bolin, who practices invisibility; or Laura Hames Franklin who invites people out to dance with her in public places; or Shantanu Starick who is traveling the world without any money; or Diana Nyad, 64 years old, who became the first person to swim the treacherous 100-mile stretch of ocean between Cuba and Florida; or Kyle Maynard, without arms or legs, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.   

These folks are not supernatural heroes.  These are just real people with real principles who are helping the disenfranchised wherever they may be.  Do the cook’s tour and Google 100 People Doing Extraordinary Things for the stories of this fore mentioned five and … 95 others!    

(I repeat) for self perseverance and social success everyone needs a calling card.  The only thing stopping any of us from creating an extraordinary calling card is ourselves. Over the course of our lives, most of us will choose money and comfort instead of taking risks, the necessary requisite for a calling card of notoriety.

One can have calling card of historical apotheosis (Abe Lincoln); one can have a calling card of amour (Bill Clinton); one can have a calling card of warmongering (George W.); or one can have a calling card of claque and callithump (Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto). 

For the rest of your one precious life, 
what will be your calling card?

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