Derek (Turk) Sanderson won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League’s 1968 rookie of the year and two Stanley Cups with the Bobby Orr-era Boston Bruins in 1970 and 1972. An investment specialist with Howland Capital Management, a Boston company that helps athletes manage their money, he’s currently writing his autobiography. He will be participating in the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event in Toronto on Oct. 1.
Are you an American now, or still Canadian?
I’m very proud of being Canadian. My father would turn over in his grave if I became American. I have been here [in the United States]since 1967. I don’t think I ever don’t feel Canadian.
Where were you when 9/11 happened?
I was coming onto Exit 16 of the Mass Pike, going to work, and my salesman called me on my cell and said somebody just ran into the tower. I was in work when the second one hit.
What was your reaction?
Shock. Thought it was an accident. Then the second [plane]went in and I thought: “This is organized.” Then I heard about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
Next day, I was stunned to a point, then I got really angry. That’s the fault of policy. The fault of political correctness to let anybody come in and say, “We’ll turn the other cheek.” How many times are you going to do that? Eventually, the United States stood up and put the fear of God into anyone who would do that. That’s what they have to do. They should have done it sooner. It takes a tragedy like that to happen.
George Bush’s first reaction to 9/11 was measured. He declared a “war on terror” but didn’t immediately point fingers. Was that the right approach?
It didn’t take them long to find out who did it. They had no real fixed target. You had the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia which I think it all comes from – the militancy and the money – and these people are used to living in hovels and caves. Very difficult to track. You and I couldn’t pull this off.
What’s your reaction to 9/11 and its aftermath 10 years on?
I’m still against political correctness. The government’s – the U.S. government and the Canadian government – first duty is to protect its citizens, to protect borders, and not let in elements that will cause violence and destruction.
We’ve witnessed a 10-year “war on terror.” Has it worked? Is America a safer place now?
I’m not certain. Homeland Security has tremendous power. Unfortunately, we have to be right 100 per cent of the time. They only have to be right once.
Do you think 9/11 can happen again, or worse?
Yes. I think someone is going to try a weapon of mass destruction in a major city. If they can get one of those smaller nuclear devices and set it off.
Do you feel that the sacrifices of liberty and personal freedoms demanded under the Patriot Act have been a good trade for increased security?
I’ll tell you what. Homeland Security can tap my phone, they can check my house, they can do whatever they want. It is like being a drug addict. When somebody wants to test you, you scream: “I got rights!” If you’re clean, you say: “Okay, go ahead.” I’m not doing anything illegal. I’m not looking to hurt people. I’m trying to survive and raise two kids and put them through college.
How did you feel when Osama bin Laden was killed?
I though it was about time. I don’t think bin Laden could have stayed hidden without the help of the Pakistani government. Politics are so corrupt all over the world, it stuns one.
One of the prices America paid in the “war on terror” was the diminishment of its reputation worldwide – waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo. Was it worth the price?
Oh yeah! I believe it was absolutely necessary. Have innocent people been tortured? It’s hard to say. To what degree “innocent”? “I just passed a note.” Then you facilitated terror. “They stayed at my house for a night.” You facilitated the entire movement. So there are levels of involvement. If you are absolutely clean, if you did nothing, then you have the right to be upset. But it is really a fine line.
You and I don’t live in that world. Don’t judge least ye be judged. The United States is a country that is very proud. Don’t wake the sleeping giant.
What do you feel would be an appropriate monument on the site of 9/11?
I’ll tell you what. A mosque being built there or anywhere near there is absolutely ridiculous! It is rubbing it in your face.