Derek “The Turk” Sanderson, One of the Great Characters in Sports, Talks Openly about His Glory Days with Stanley Cup Winning Bruins, Life as a Bachelor in the Swinging Sixties and Seventies, His 13 Trips to Rehab, and Life in General.
In a lively interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, Derek Sanderson opens up about his amazing life. Sanderson was a great player on a great teams. He amassed millions of dollars and lost it all. His problems with alcohol and substance abuse landed him frequently in rehab programs. The conversation delves deeply into the social and political atmosphere of the 1960s and 70s.
Derek Sanderson was a popular young star on the 1970 Bruins Stanley Cup Championship team. He credits his popularity to his being his gregarious self. The two big stars on the Bruins were Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. These two super stars were quiet and humble. When Orr and Espo were interviewed after the game they wouldn’t say very much, so Sanderson would do lots of talking about their accomplishments.
Sanderson discusses how he developed his aggressive, pugnacious style in junior hockey. With the Bruins, he was rookie of the year in 1967, centered their checking line, and specialized in scoring shorthanded goals as part of the penalty killing unit. Sanderson gives lots of credit to Bruins Coach Harry Sinden in putting together a winning hockey team and for implementing winning strategies.
In 1969, Derek Sanderson got a phone call from Joe Namath that put Sanderson on the road to fame, fortune, and disaster. At twenty-three, Sanderson became partners with Broadway Joe Namath in a chain of lucrative nightclubs called Bachelors III. He was making three times his salary with the Bruins, and the poor kid from Niagara Falls had become a celebrity. Throw in that Sanderson did well in the free agent market, and Derek was suddenly rich beyond his wildest dreams.
A very engaging portion of the interview is when Derek openly discusses his alcohol and cocaine addictions and his battle for sobriety. Sanderson came of age in an era of conflict about the Vietnam War, changing sexual mores, and the easy availability of drugs. Today, Derek Sanderson is sober, clean, and in control of his life.