It’s all about cash and checks for one hockey bettor

Bet on it: Former hockey player Darren Banks says talented — and physical — Bruins will win the Stanley Cup.

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Darren Banks

Former hockey player Darren Banks.

Rob Miech/Sun-Times

LAS VEGAS — Darren Banks likes to bet on the likelihood of a fight occurring in an NHL game almost as much as he liked to fight during a 14-season professional career.

“I’m not sure if like is the right word,’’ Banks said. ‘‘I did enjoy it.”

For a few months this season, Station Casinos offered a Fight/No Fight proposition. I made a minnow’s profit, primarily on No (typically around -340) parlays involving multiple games.

A docket of 12 NHL tilts would have no fisticuffs.

“I bet it,” Banks said. “Most teams don’t like to fight.”

In Vegas Golden Knights games, he often wagered on a goal being tallied in the first five and 10 minutes. The former enforcer said he “made a killing.”

When a game involved a -365 favorite (risk $365 to win $100) on the moneyline to win outright, with a -190 puck line (giving 1.5 goals), he’d pivot tactfully to the 1.5 goals at a plus price.

Banks fared very well. He invested in Boston, with tickets ranging from +400 to about +500, to win its seventh Stanley Cup.

He tried extinguishing a $30 William Hill account, but his NHL prowess boosted it to $750. He’d extract profit, leave $30, pump it back to $750. That happened three times.

Betting on a team to win it all without taking conference insurance?

“Eight out of 10 people don’t do that. I’m like, ‘What’re you, stupid?’ You have to back up your money!”

SOFT HOCKEY

In his youth in Toronto, Banks didn’t have a favorite team; he idolized tough guys Dave Schultz and Tiger Williams, defenseman Börje Salming and deft playmaker Bobby Clarke.

In 637 minor-league games, from 1989-2005, he served 2,815 penalty minutes, or PIMs. In 20 games for the Bruins, in 1992-93 and 1993-94, Banks spent 73 minutes in the box.

“I liked the rough stuff, banging,” he said. “Wouldn’t worry about getting hurt. At times, my hands hurt so much I could barely hang onto my stick. Didn’t want to fight ‘today’ . . . but you have to.”

As part of a lawsuit, he once received about $20,000. “Which is nothing. I get dizzy spells once in a while. ‘What is that all about?’ I’m not going to cry about it.”

From ice enforcer to 11-year executive casino host for Derek Stevens, at the Michigan native’s downtown Vegas properties Circa, the Golden Gate and The D.

Patches displaying Circa Sports, Stevens’ sportsbook, adorn the Golden Knights’ sweaters.

Banks, 57, was moving fiancée Amber’s belongings, from the Southern foothills to their new Summerlin home, 10 days ago when he took a break, satisfying a sweet tooth with a sundae at Dairy Queen.

“Guys got orbital bones broken,” he said between ice-cream slurps. “It happens. But I’d say three-quarters of the guys never really got seriously injured.”

Today’s NHL?

“Never seen such soft hockey. Guys lying down trying to block a shot? Sorry, but I’m zinging it right at his head. Guess what? He won’t be there the next time I shoot.

“It changes, a little bit, in the playoffs. Teams that finish checks will win the Stanley Cup.”

SKATE OVER MA?

A few weeks ago, Banks watched Nic Hague actually retaliate against an L.A. King who had slammed a Vegas teammate into the boards.

“That was the kind of emotion he needs to show,” Banks said of Hague, a 6-6, 215-pound defenseman. “He made me go, ‘OK, I like this kid.’ Then he pumped up the crowd! Even better.”

An anomaly, for Vegas finished last in the league in average PIMs, at 7.2. On ESPN on Monday night, former player PK Subban agreed that today’s NHL is too retaliation-averse.

The Knights opened the playoffs against Winnipeg, 19th in PIMs (8.5) and a 50-to-1 shot to win it all in Vegas books. Winnipeg opened +130 to win the series, but that flipped to -140 after the Jets triumphed Tuesday.

Boston recorded an NHL-record 65 victories and 135 points this season, and was eighth (10.5) in PIMs; the Bruins stick up for each other.

To anyone who believes Boston can be beaten, Banks said, “You’d have to be a fool. I don’t think any team can beat them in seven games.”

The Bruins were -260 favorites to defeat Florida in the first round, which zoomed to -800 after Boston won the opener.

As wise buys, Banks recommended taking Boston at plus odds to win the East and anything over +200 to win it all; Wednesday, those were +175 and +250, respectively, at DraftKings.

With superstar Connor McDavid, and stellar complements Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Banks believed Edmonton (11-to-1 DK title odds) might pose a threat.

The Bruins, though, feature Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, two of the league’s top-four goalies. David Pastrnak tallied 61 goals. Plus, at the trading deadline, they acquired Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit.

“Another forward who likes to check,” Banks said. “In the playoffs, if you don’t have aggressive players . . . timid players are not going to win you a Stanley Cup. That’s why Washington won.”

He recalled vividly Vegas’ inaugural season of 2017-18, when it made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final but lost to the Capitals in five games.

“Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson would have skated over their mothers to get the puck,” Banks said of Washington’s two stars. “And Vegas? Not willing to do that.”

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