S2E12 – The Paul Blahyj Podcast Interview
In today’s show, the final Podcast of Season 2, I interview former Nottingham Panthers back up net minder Paul Blahyj.
I start the interview by asking a very important question – how on earth does he pronounce his last name?
Paul explains that the name hails from the Ukraine through his grandad, however here in the UK Blahyj is pronounced Bly.
Paul spent 12 years learning his trade in the Nottingham junior system, playing for the Tigers, Cougars and Jaguars alongside Ashley Tait, Simon Hunt, Marc Roberts, Marc Twaite and good friend, the late Gary Rippingale.
In 1994, Paul’s dreams came true when the Panthers head coach, Mike Blaisdell, asked him to become back up goalie to first choice Steve Butler, however his was soon brought back down to earth when he made his debut, he recalls:
We played a friendly at home against the Durham Warps, seeing my name on the back of a Panthers shirt was a very proud moment for me, however the game ended in a 10 – 10 tie, my dad didn’t go to many games, but he came to this one – it was his first and last game!
Paul also recalls his initiation to the Panthers team, he was stripped naked at the back of the team bus then had to run past the players girlfriends and club directors at the front of the bus to retrieve his clothes!
We go on to talk about the 1994 Bensons and Hedges Cup Final victory, 7 – 3 over the Cardiff Devils and a moment he would never forget as Mike Blaisdell allowed him to replace first choice goalie Steven Butler for the last 34 seconds of the game.
Again Paul recalls:
It was a sign of the man, Mike didn’t have to do that, he could have just left me on the bench for the experience, it was a fantastic gesture, one I will be forever grateful for.
The following day, the newly crowned Benson and Hedges Champions had to travel to Cardiff to once again face the Devils.
Although the match finished in a 6-6 tie it would be forever remembered for another reason – a bench clearing brawl that involved every player, including Paul, he recalls:
The benches cleared and as I jump off the bench I see all these big hairy brutes coming towards me, fortunately I grab onto a young Stevie Lyle and agree to stand and watch, but then a very angry Devils coach, Paul Heavey, shouts over to warn me that if I lay one finger on Stevie he’ll wrap a stick around my head!
It was a night he wasn’t going to forget in a hurry, after the game the Panthers team had to have a police escort out of Cardiff!
We delve more into that 1994 – 95 season and talk of “that game” in March 1995 when the Sheffield Steelers gained an 8 – 6 victory in Nottingham to snatch the league championship title from the Panthers grasp – we talk of the disappointment in the dressing room after the game and Paul gives his opinion on when, how and where the cracks started to show on a season that promised so much, but ended in disappointment.
When the season ended Paul decided to retire from the game, he’d achieved his dream to play for the Nottingham Panthers, played in a cup final and had experiences that most of us would give our right arm for.
Did he ever regret his decision to retire at just 20 years old, you’ll find the answer by listening to the podcast.
Today’s shout out goes to Phil Burkin who emailed me to say:
Great Podcasts, I’d like to hear more Streatham stuff – I’m a Streatham Redhawks fan.
Thanks for the email Phil, leave it with me, I’m already working on it.
This episode brings an end to Season 2 of the Podcast.
will consist of another 12 interviews, Episode S3E1 will begin in October 2017, the season will end with Episode S3E12 at the end of March 2018.
So, that’ll be 2 episodes every month.
However I will be revealing who those new guests will be but only to my mailing list – so if you’re not on it, go sign up now or you’ll miss out.
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