I did a lot less cooking at Lou Nanne’s new Edina restaurant than I had planned.
When I showed up at his American Grill for this interview, the Hockey Hall of Famer was grinning about his latest regular appearance on Dan Barreiro’s KFAN show, when he told listeners I was coming to the restaurant to cook. In the end, the main ingredient I supplied was some herb-infused butter.
Check the video online and you will see that I did a lot more eating and questioning than cooking because restaurant staffers Mario and Angel were on the scene, as well as L.J., who playfully challenged my culinary skills.
When I made this dinner cooking date with Nanne, I didn’t think he would make it because it was a short time after his hip surgery. He was there, though, and looking fit.
Q: You’re on KFAN regularly talking to Dan Barreiro, so I wonder, have you ever wanted to slap a sports reporter?
A: Oh yeah. [Laughter] How many times!
Q: Barreiro is always razzing you about your vacations. Where would you take him?
A: Italy. The Amalfi Coast.
Q: Why do you enjoy staying busy with your business and other ventures?
A: My wife [Francine] and I were just talking about that this morning. I guess I’ve got a short attention span. If I’m not doing something, I’m bored. She said to me, “You’re never getting to retire because you would drive me nuts.”
Q: Given you are such a frequent traveler, what would you like to see improved about air travel?
A: First of all, if they went back to the old seats, so people had more room and more comfort. I think the way they board and let people on and off, they always condense it to such a short time. If the plane’s there and the flight attendants are there, let them on, so people aren’t rushing.
Q: How much of a hockey team’s success is the team vs. the coach?
A: Eight-five percent [is the team], at least. You’re not going to win any sport without good players.
Q: How many concussions do you think you had in your playing days?
A: Five. We didn’t look at things as concussions in the old days. We never really realized we had a concussion. The most severe one was the last one I had in Pittsburgh. I woke up in the training room and the trainer stayed with me all night long. [He] woke me up every half-hour to make sure I was OK. That was on a Sunday and I played Tuesday.
Q: Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant doesn’t believe in concussions, not really, you know?
A: Well, I’ve seen too many and the reactions of the players.
Q: What can the NHL do reduce concussions?
A: They are trying what they are doing now, curtailing and penalizing head hits, which we never did. That’s big. I think they are trying to get better equipment, but people don’t realize equipment alone is not going to stop a concussion. It’s snapping a neck, the way you get hit.
Q: I know you travel the world, but do you have a favorite getaway place in Minnesota?
A: We actually have a place in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, 10 miles east of Taylors Falls. We love going there. I don’t have to fight the logjam, I-94 and 101. [It’s] an hour and 20 minutes.
Q: Now that you have a restaurant, how often do you eat here and does your wife take advantage of the convenience?
A: At least three times a week. Oh yeah. Sunday we came back from the lake and didn’t want to go home and cook so we came right to the restaurant.
Q: Do you have a funny Sid Hartman story you can tell in public?
A: Sid always [uses] a tape recorder. He always came around with his tape recorder to get quotes after the game, after practice. One time, he put his tape recorder down; I think it was Tommy Reid — he played for the North Stars; he does the radio broadcast for them now — grabbed the tape recorder and put in the freezer. For the next half-hour, he’s going nuts in the locker room — can’t find his tape recorder. He’s giving everybody hell and is going to sue the team and the whole works. Then the trainers said, “Sid, I think it’s in here.” He went in the freezer. He said, “What is going on?” And they said, “Hot news, we’re just trying to cool it off.”
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on FOX 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.