Wherever he goes, Pat (Whitey) Stapleton seems to improve the outlook. In 1973, for example, he left the Chicago Blackhawks after eight seasons to join the basement-dwelling Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association. In no time Stapleton turned the Cougars into playoff contenders. "I try to get the best out of people," says the four-time NHL All-Star. "You build a team that way."
And a business. When his son Tom, one of his six children, started The Best Wash of America, an environmentally friendly 18-wheeler wash in Sarnia, Ont., in 1999, he didn't have to look far for someone to mind the shop. Pat, 62, helps in hiring twentysomethings who he hopes will make the company their career. He also coaches youth hockey in Strathroy, Ont., where his players know little about his former glory.
"I don't live in the past," Stapleton says, "but what I want them to know is that hockey is just a vehicle for life." With Stapleton as mentor, his players are more likely than most kids to get the best out of themselves.