Amerks Hall of Famer Mal Davis will be returning to Rochester this weekend for the 60th Anniversary Celebration, an he recently took the time to catch up with Amerks.com.
Davis arrived on the Rochester hockey scene in 1981 and after just five seasons with the Amerks his name was atop the franchise all-time list for goals and points. He scored an impressive 155 goals and 287 points in only 247 games to finish 16th all-time in the point totals for Rochester. Despite ranking eighth all-time in goals in club history, Davis played only 100 NHL games for the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres, although he produced 31 goals and 22 assists for 53 points. Davis shares a record with fellow Hall of Famer Jody Gage for scoring four goals in a single game three times – Feb. 14, 1982; Jan. 2, 1983; and Oct. 5, 1983. A 20-goal scorer in four of his five seasons in Rochester, Davis was named an AHL First Team All-Star after a career-best 103-point performance (55+48) during the 1983-84 season.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM PLAYING IN ROCHESTER?
The two Calder Cup runs for sure, but there was nothing like Opening Night. Opening Night in Rochester to me was always just a special game. I really don’t know why. I remember I had a couple good Opening Night games, maybe that’s why. I had a few four-goal games on Opening Night. I used to get all pumped up for Opening Night. I always thought that was the best game of the year.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT PLAYING THERE?
I was lucky enough to have some really good coaches like (Joe) Crozier, (Mike) Keenan and John Van Boxmeer. But we also had a good core group of guys, guys like Geordie Robertson, that were used to winning and were real good team people. I think that’s what I miss most. Guys like Warren Harper, who was an unbelievably great team man. Those guys became like brothers to me, so that’s the main thing I remember. Just my teammates and the great core guys we had there.
WHAT WAS THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE AT THE WAR MEMORIAL BACK THEN?
I think the atmosphere back when I first came in was they kind of wanted change a little bit. The organization had a tough year the year before and I don’t think they made the playoffs. Mike Keenan really got us going and the fans embraced it. The very next year, they had a Calder Cup team. I always loved the fans of Rochester. They were tough, but they were fair, and if you put up the effort, they rewarded you.
WHAT DID YOUR TIME WITH THE AMERKS MEAN TO YOU?
Plain and simple, I’m recognized in life after hockey as a Rochester American. I put up big years there and I was able to get some time in Buffalo and went over to Europe and all that, but the bottom line is I was very, very proud and still proud to have worn that Rochester Americans uniform and bled those colors. That’s kind of what it means to me. It’s a really good feeling and I hope everyone has a chance to have those kinds of feelings towards an organization.
YOU WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO WIN A CALDER CUP WITH THE AMERKS IN 1983 AND THE VERY NEXT SEASON YOU WERE NAMED MVP OF THE AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE. HOW SPECIAL WERE THOSE TWO SEASONS?
Well the Calder Cup team in ’83… that team was destined to win and I think everyone from us players to the fans knew we were going to win that one. I got called up towards the end of that season. I was playing with some good centermen in J.F. Sauve, Don Lever and Claude Verret. Even the next year when I had the 55-goal season it was because of who I had playing around me. I always said that I had great years when I had great players around me. I was recently talking to a former teammate Gates Orlando and the Calder Cup year (1984) that we didn’t win is the one that I still take to heart. That’s what you kind of remember as a hockey player. People don’t realize this, but as much as I enjoyed scoring a goal, I think it bothered me more when I got scored against. I remember the losses sometimes that I would love to play those games over. Those years were great years. Those meant a lot to me as a player. I think they elevated me to the next level actually.
HOW IS THE GAME OF HOCKEY STILL A PART OF YOUR LIFE TODAY?
I still play to this day. I don’t think I can skate the way I used to, but I can still shoot though and all that stuff. I get a small bucket of goals pretty well, but this is the way I look at hockey now. We all end up in the same league eventually. We all end up in a $5 league and I respect the guys that have never played pro hockey because they love the game exactly the way I do. I still love the game, I still like going to play and I look forward to it. It’s a great exercise. I’m obviously nowhere near as good as I used to, but you just go to accept that as you get older.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO IN RECENT YEARS?
I have a couple daughters in university and I’ve been working in the pharmaceutical industry actually. I’m working for a company called Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, which specializes in making aspirin. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s been my kind of work. I had to work after hockey was over. Working is part of my life now and that’s the way it is.