Darryl Sittler talks McDavid, Toews and Terry Fox in new book

A Canadian Hockey Hall of Famer says he draws inspiration from Terry Fox and that the NHL is in good hands with some of its rising stars.

Hockey Hall of Famer says Terry Fox continues to inspire him

Former Toronto Maple leafs captain and last one to wear the original vintage jersey Darryl Sittler waves as he introduces the Toronto Maple Leafs third new jersey for the 2011/2012 season in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

A Canadian Hockey Hall of Famer says he draws inspiration from Terry Fox and that the NHL is in good hands with some of its rising stars.

"Terry Fox, when he was running across Canada, he grabbed my emotions," Darryl Sittler told Daybreak Alberta this week.

Sittler's new book, Captain: My Life and Career, is kind of like a scrapbook of the former Maple Leaf captain's life on and off the ice.

"When Terry Fox arrived at the Ontario-Quebec border, they asked if there was anything special they could do. He had a request. He wanted to meet me and little did he know, I wanted to meet him as much." he said.

"He had no idea I was going to show up. I will remember that day for the rest of my life."

Sittler, along with thousands of fans, met Fox at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square in July 1980.

He gave Fox his 1980 NHL All-Star jersey.

"Terry Fox's picture sits in my home and there is not a time I don't go by it and say, 'Hey, this guy can do what he did, the humbleness, it wasn't all about Terry Fox, it was about mankind.'"

Sittler says young up-and-comers in the NHL have tremendous pressure and spotlight placed on them by fans and the media.

"It can become overwhelming for guys, as it did even for me at the end of my career," Sittler explained.

"The people in the media, you can't get away from it. When things are going good, they love you and they probably put you on a higher pedestal than you should be. When it is going the other way, they beat you up pretty bad so you just have to learn to know who you are and that you have done your best."

The 66-year-old, who retired in 1985 after lacing up for 15 years, says the league has some strong talent and leadership today.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs player Darryl Sittler, centre, performs a puck drop with Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf, right, and New Jersey Devils' Andy Greene during a pre-game ceremony to celebrate Sittler's ten point game before NHL action on Thursday February 4, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

"I look at a guy like Auston Matthews now, the expectations are high, number one pick, scores four goals in his first game, which was phenomenal to lead off the next century," Sittler said.

"I look at a guy like Jonathan Toews, western Canadian boy from Winnipeg. Won some Stanley Cups. Maybe not the most skilled player on the team but he comes to play every night. He makes his other teammates better. He understands the responsibility away from the game."

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, left, congratulates goalie Cam Talbot after the Oilers defeated the Colorado Avalanche in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

He also said the young Edmonton Oilers captain has huge potential.

"I even look at Connor McDavid. They named him captain at 19 and people say, 'Is that too young?' He has had some experience with that in junior hockey. You listen to his interviews, he is a humble guy, he is a team guy, he respects the game and the tradition of the game."

Sittler says a wise friend once gave him some great advice.

"A mentor, Normie Ullman was a great player, he sat down with me and said, 'Darryl, every time you get up you have a choice of your attitude and how you are going to live and try and make yourself a better player, a better person every day," Sittler recalled.

"When things are going good, don't think they are always going to go good because they don't. When they are going the other way, don't get down, just get up and live your life the right way so I try to do that.

"That is what I learned from hockey and I learned that from my parents growing up. I just try to do that and things seem to work out."

With files from Daybreak Alberta