Even though Mike Ribeiro retired from hockey in 2017, his former agent Bob Perno still keeps in touch with him.
He gave news of his ex-client in the TVA Sports podcast “La Dose”, hosted by Jean-Philippe Bertrand, in addition to recounting in great detail how he convinced Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux to represent them. Listen here:
“I continue to help and advise him, but I don’t get paid for it. I don’t mind, I do it because I love it. I try to help her as best I can. It’s easy to criticize everyone, but when you’re very closely involved with someone who has substance abuse issues, that’s a different story. It is a difficult disease to overcome. I think Mike could do a lot more to get through this, but he’s trying.”
Perno plays a kind of father figure role to the one who played, casually, 1074 games in the NHL and collected 793 points.
“I get mad at him sometimes because I treat him like he’s my child, in a way. I want him to recover from his illness. I will never let him down.”
During his time with the Canadiens, Ribeiro was widely talked about for his antics off the ice, but his troubles didn’t start until he left Montreal for Dallas in 2006, Perno said.
“When he was playing in Quebec, I was trying to be his father and bring him back on track. I could have better control over him. When he left for Dallas, I was far from him, his parents too. He met people he shouldn’t have met. He’s easy to influence, that’s what happened. That’s when he started having big problems.”
During his years with the CH, Ribeiro became friends with Pierre Dagenais and José Théodore, nicknamed “the three amigos”, recognized for their drunken outings in the bars of the city.
Perno admits that the three players have given him “a lot of white hair”, but he claims that their behaviors have been exaggerated in the media.
“We talked a lot about the three amigos in Montreal, but other players were out more than them at the time and they weren’t in the headlines because they weren’t Quebecers. The media always follow Quebec players more, which is quite normal, but it was much exaggerated. Yes, they did things they shouldn’t have done, but they were young, rich, famous and beautiful and they tried to enjoy life.”
“A strange specimen”
Perno points out that Ribeiro has always been a rebel at heart.
“Mike, he’s a funny specimen. He was always kind of a rebel. He always does his own thing. There were events in his life when he was young. He was raised in a neighborhood rough, it was not easy. He picked up lifestyle habits at a young age that are not recommended.”
If Ribeiro was able to shine at the highest level despite his difficult childhood, it is thanks to his “incredible natural talent”.
“When I first saw him play, he reminded me of Mario Lemieux because of his vision of the game. I immediately fell in love with him.
“The only thing is his behavior off the ice. He was still able to perform on the ice despite breaking curfew, not taking care of his body and being allergic to the gym. It’s still amazing! It is thanks to his talent that he has had so much success.
Perno even believes that Ribeiro would still be active if he had taken charge.
“We always hear bad things about him, but he’s one of the few Quebecers to have played 1,000 games in the NHL. It’s quite an achievement. I believe Mike would still be playing in the NHL if he had taken care of himself. It wasn’t his skating that made him a living, nor his throwing, it was his intelligence. This style of player can play for a long time in the NHL. You can lose your skating with age, but he didn’t have any, so he didn’t have any to lose!”