Tiger is still on his game

GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:41 AM ET

Currently, the average NHL player's career is about four years. So, this current crop of shinny pros has just tossed out a quarter of its potential career earning power. Furthermore, it is an unfortunate reality that many pro athletes make considerably more money while playing than in the total aftermath of their careers. Ergo, the situation beyond 2010 does not look too good for many of the average NHLers still sitting out.

However, at least one of the NHL's retired pros has gone in the opposite direction.

Dave (Tiger) Williams, now 51, was an immensely popular Maple Leafs player who routinely thrilled crowds at the Gardens, both with his handiwork in the fisticuffs department and with his animated scoring celebrations when, after scoring a goal, he would ride his hockey stick back to centre ice in a way that would have made Roy Rogers proud.

But Williams' post-hockey life has resulted in a boom not bust situation as he currently rides herd over millions of dollars as the majority shareholder of three oil and gas companies based in Western Canada.

"It all began when I bought a block of land in the Northwest Territories in 1997," was Tiger's opening gambit when I caught up with him by phone from his Vancouver office. "Now, after going public, our company is worth over $100 million. The company's name is Pacific Rodera Energy. Later, we accumulated more land and invested millions in explorations. We found oil and gas and formed two more companies, Husky and United TOD Resources. The shares in both companies just kept rising.

"The key is to have strong and dedicated partners and prominent shareholders, such as former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and my Maple Leafs buddy Darryl Sittler."

The shares of the third entity, Pacific Rodera Energy, started out as a penny stock, but today is listed on the Stock exchange at more than $2 and climbing.

Williams spoke with satisfaction about his business acumen and the success it has achieved, but hockey is still playing an important part in his life as evidenced by his strong views on the current NHL lockout.

"I don't understand the attitude of both sides," roared the Tiger. "It's tough to make sense out of it. I was only a player and never an owner, but I can't figure out how they could hold all those meetings in the past few months and not reach a compromise.

"If the 30 owners, who are supposed to be partners, cannot help each other, why should the players help them? The owners want the players to fix their problems. Mr. Ballard (the late, controversial owner of the Maple Leafs) would have straightened the thing out some time ago.

"There is no doubt the lockout issue has to be solved by April 30, otherwise they'll have major problems come the fall. You see, corporate sponsors and advertisers make their plans in June, July, August and September for the following year. They'd have to know soon what's happening. If the two NHL parties wait until September to solve their problems, they'll suffer more than ever before."

Williams, who has only 10 employees, experiences no such problems and loves going to work every day when he's not on skates. He is proud of his family, which includes wife Brenda and children Dan, who is a fireman, and daughter Clancy, who was born the day King Clancy's wife passed away and was therefore named after the late standout Maple Leaf defenceman, coach and executive.

Williams still loves to get on the ice and horse around whether it's in Canada or for Canadian troops in Bosnia or Afghanistan. Incidentally, he will be in Toronto for a charity game on April 2 after having played in Montreal the night before.

Having created the showmanship of the hockey stick ride, Tiger also has now developed his own rich man's eccentricity - clipping coupons, which he probably did during our chat.

Maybe he should ride into the NHL's boardrooms and help the combatants dig for a profitable solution.

GROSSLYABBREVIATED

Congratulations to Toronto's Dr. Tom Pashby, the ophthalmologist who received the Order of Canada for his work on the prevention of facial and other injuries in hockey and football. Dr. Pashby turns 90 next Tuesday ... Joe Halstead, the Commissioner of Economic Development, Culture and Tourism, is leaving the provincial and municipal public service positions he has held for the past 30 years. A director of Toronto's 2008 Olympic Bid, Halstead will be honoured at a farewell celebration at the Olympic Spirit Toronto (36 Dundas St. East) on April 7 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $40 and available by calling Helen Donches at 416-397-5342.


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