Episode #53 – Darryl Sittler – A Man of Great Character

“I’m grateful for the fact that I can look back at my life and I can honestly say I don’t really have any regrets. If I died tomorrow, I tried to live it the best I could and having said that, still young and healthy and lots to look forward to.” – Darryl Sittler

Few players in Toronto Maple Leafs history captured the imagination of hockey fans, and a place in their hearts, like number 27, Darryl Sittler. The former centre man and Captain of the Maple Leafs was born third in a family of eight children in Kingston Ontario, played his junior hockey career with the London Knights and went on to be Toronto’s first choice in the 1970 Amateur Draft.

Darryl embarked on a career that led him to the top of the Leafs All-Time Points and Goal Scoring List and he secured his place among the NHL’s all-time greats in 1989 with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He finished his career with 484 goals and 1121 points. He set an NHL single-game record that still stands by getting 10 points (six goals, four assists) in a game against the Boston Bruins in 1976.

On February 8, 2003, in a touching tribute to an illustrious career, with his three grown children at his side, Darryl Sittler was honoured at a Toronto home game against the Montreal Canadiens as his banner was raised to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre. The banner not only bore his name and jersey number but as a tribute to his late wife Wendy who had died of colon cancer in 2001, hers too was inscribed.

In his post-hockey career, Darryl kept his entrepreneurial spirit lit with business endeavours fueled by his long-standing philosophy to learn, prepare and work hard. He is an active Member of the Board of Directors of several publicly listed mineral exploration companies, a founding Co-Chair for ‘Have a Heart for Downs Syndrome’ (HHDS) and is very supportive of several charities including Special Olympics Canada, Screen Colons Canada and Colorectal Cancer Canada. Darryl also spends time working with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Inc. in areas of Corporate Partners and in community relations.

In Darryl’s lifetime pursuit of good health and longevity he stays active by training, bike riding, fishing and playing golf. Together with his wife Luba, Darryl has a full family life and enjoys spending time with his children, his grandchildren as well as his friends.


  • Show Notes
  • [02:07] Patrick introduces his next guest who needs little introduction for hockey fans: Darryl Sittler
  • [04:00] Darryl and Patrick drop the puck and get underway.
  • [04:38] After retiring from his first career in hockey, Darryl talks about the variety of things he tried, studied and undertook in his second act and how he decided on the things that were right for him.
  • [07:38] The importance of preparation and work ethic is a philosophy Darryl adopted early which served his goal of playing in the NHL and continued to serve him in the projects he undertook post-NHL.
  • [10:05] Darryl shares his background and experiences to provide insight into where his entrepreneurial mindset and strong work ethic originated.
  • [14:58] Darryl’s love for the game of hockey was his number one motivator to immerse himself in the sport, keep practicing and working at it every day.
  • [17:00] Identity shift: Darryl articulates his feelings of playing NHL level hockey, the ups and downs, comraderies, spontaneity and adrenaline, and then how he managed the shift after retiring. Long-term thinking, setting goals and engaging in alternative activities all kept (and keeps) his energy lit.
  • [21:15] Two essential attributes that Darryl learned both as a kid and coming up in the NHL: respect and humility.
  • [24:34] In keeping with humility, Darryl recounts a moving story of meeting Terry Fox, the everlasting impact it has had on him, and the opportunity we all have to make a difference. Big or small it all matters.
  • [29:26] Darryl’s talks about his boundaries and commitment when his integrity is tested.
  • [32:39] Leadership: Darryl’s approach to it, responding from his gut feel and the significant role of surrounding himself with people of good character.
  • [35:33] Darryl shares the story of meeting his wife Wendy, their journey together and the turning point in their lives when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
  • [39:33] Colon cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in men and women AND it’s preventable and 90% curable with early detection. How Darryl’s encouragement to get checked saved at least one person’s life.
  • [41:10] Patrick shares his personal experience of losing two sisters to cancer (which started as colon cancer) and finding out after one of his routine colonoscopies that he was genetically predisposed to the same. Acting on his sister’s advice to get checked is why Patrick is here as he is today.
  • [43:55] Realizing the impact their shared experience could have, Darryl and Patrick were fueled to get together, have this conversation and share the message of preventative screening with TEDM listeners.
  • [45:17] Darryl gives another example of losing someone too early, Pat Burns the great NHL coach who died from colon cancer at the young age of 58. There is nothing to lose by getting checked and everything to gain.
  • [46:30] Patrick and Darryl reiterate the importance of taking preventative action; don’t wait for symptoms and certainly don’t let your doctor talk you out of it. Being proactive could save your life.
  • [48:23] The joy of two wonderful marriages that Darryl has been blessed with and a reminder not to take our loved ones for granted.
  • [50:55] At the young age of 68 (maybe physically, but mentally he feels 50!), what is Darryl doing for physical activity these days?
  • [52:55] Going back to that long-term thinking Darryl possesses, he will exercise until he’s physically unable and will do what he can for his longevity and well being.
  • [53:43] Darryl takes us back to how his three kids grew up, the impact of having a hall of famer Dad when his kids were themselves on the ice, and the values they each live much as Darryl grew up living.
  • [57:32] Darryl’s view of the hockey world now and the second and third generation NHL players.
  • [59:34] Guiding words of wisdom for hockey parents. And grandparents!
  • [62:52] Considering his many career highlights Darryl relates a touching story of the greatest moment in his life, in honour of his late wife Wendy, as he watched his NHL banner raised at a Toronto Maple Leafs game in the Air Canada Centre in 2003 with Wendy’s name inscribed along with his. Spoiler alert! It’s a tear jerker.
  • [67:09] Rapid Fire! Favourite book types, infrequent swearing doesn’t lend itself to a favourite, life lessons learned, room-desk-car and favourite music.
  • [70:08] Darryl’s gratitude and final life lessons learned.

Connect with Darryl Sittler:


Selected Links and People Mentioned from this episode:

Terry Fox

Colorectal Cancer Canada

Screen Colons Canada

Special Olympics Canada

Have a Heart for Downs Syndrome (HDSS)

Captain: My Life and Career by Darryl Sittler and Mike Leonetti

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