Hockey's Historic Highlights

Media Goofs

Hockey's Historic Highlights

Glen R. Goodhand

Media Goofs

Posted April 08, 2018

Viewed 1270 times

Everyone connected with hockey is guilty of blunders!

  General Managers are! Ask John Ferguson Jr. about whom he got in exchange for Tukka Rask, the Bruin’s star netminder. He will likely mumble something about Andrew Raycroft, who had a so-so season with Boston previous to that swap.

  Coaches are! If in doubt, ask Don Cherry about the 1979 playoff game when his Bruins were penalized for too many men on the ice. The horrendous result, which robbed his troops from advancing to the Stanley Cup finals, was that the Canadiens scored to tie the match, then won it in overtime. Bye Bye B’s!

   Goaltenders are! Ask Colorado backstop, Patrick Roy, about his gaff in game seven of the 2002 post-season against Detroit. Stopping a shot, he raised his gloved hand in triumph, only to realize he was not holding the puck, and see Brendan Shanahan push it in the net for a goal.

  Defensemen are! Just ask Steve Smith about his unforgettable goof in the 1986 play-downs. In the series between his Oilers and the Calgary Flames, the normally steady rearguard was too casual in attempting to pass to a teammate. The puck hit goalie Grant Fuhr in the back of the leg and caromed into the cage. The fate of the entire series rested upon that error.

   Forwards surely are! Ask Patrik Stefan about the time he corralled a loose puck in open ice, with nothing but free sailing facing him; and as he got to the open net, he missed the yawning cage and fell down. It’s a classic!

   So it should not be surprising that those who are involved in that general aggregation called the media, also are guilty of slips of the “pen” or the tongue. Communication is their business—and it is incumbent upon them to be as accurate as possible in that responsibility. But tain’t necessarily so!

   Miscommunication can cause real problems.

 History records one of those defining moments. On June 18, 1815, a man stood in the tower of the Winchester Cathedral anxiously gazing out to sea. He was looking for the ship which was to send signals by use of lights concerning the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo—news of the conflict between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte. Finally he spied the blinking lights. But the message barely commenced when fog began rolling in. He read, “Wellington defeated……” With a heavy heart he relayed the news to other stations. All England was overcome with gloom and sadness.

   But the ship repeated the message, realizing that the mist had interrupted it. This time it was completed: “Wellington defeated Napoleon!”

  What a difference! 

  And a typo, an unconfirmed rumour, or a poorly researched conclusion can give the wrong impression, the wrong idea, or the wrong information about any significant topic. Though hardly as crucial as the unfinished message in 1815, its single impact, or the jump start in a domino effect, can be seriously misleading.

   For instance, Charles L. Coleman’s three-volume set, “The Trail of the Stanley Cup” is a masterpiece of journalism. 2698 pages of hockey history, touching on the profile of every team, in every league, involved in competition for the most famous team award the game has known. Commencing with the 1892-93 campaign of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, it unfolds the schedules, scores, statistics, and significant highlights of that season, and follows that pattern through until the NHL’s expansion to 12 teams in 1967. Yet, on page 162 of volume one, four pages after referring to the Queen City’s entry as simply “the Toronto club”, he tagged them as “The Toronto Maple Leafs” as “champions of the Ontario Professional Hockey League”. Hardly a hanging offense. But this writer, a novice in the game’s history at that time, recalls reading that for the first time and remarking, “I didn’t know there was a Toronto team called the Maple Leafs back then!” There wasn’t! Not until late in the 1926-27 season was the nickname “Maple Leafs” given to a Toronto sextet. 

   “What? You castigate an author for one error in 2698 pages!?” Hardly. Coleman admitted after his mammoth project that he had made others. It simply indicates how wrong information can change the context. 

   I still remember, in the early days of SIHR, founding President, Bill Fitsell, giving a mini seminar on

 venerable journalism: “Get it first! But get it right!”

   This is by no means an ambush on the media connected with the world’s fastest sport. The vast majority of times they do “get it right.” When they don’t, several missteps are actually amusing—not hilarious—but of the belly laugh kind. Others prompt the rolling of the eyes. Still others are a commentary on how easy it is to drop the ball. But they are all goofs!

   Back in November of 1937, the Montreal Gazette headlined “Hooley” Smith’s trade to the New York Americans. The bold print introducing the deal was flawless; but in the details which followed there was an oops which would not have tickled the brash forward’s fancy. Reginald Joseph was known for hard-nosed approach to the game; quick-tempered and boisterous. But there it was in black and white: “Holly Smith, who played all last season with Boston……”

Clip from Montreal Gazette, Nov. 7, 1937

    The story has been told and retold about Alfie Moore’s heroic effort as a substitute goalie for the Blackhawks in the 1938 playoffs against Toronto. Chicago’s regular twine-tender, Mike Karakas, was unable to play because of a broken toe. His understudy, Paul Goodman, could not be brought in to fill the gap in time. So, knowing Moore lived in the city, a call went for him to fill the gap. According to twice-told tale, he was discovered in a tavern, already having had a dozen drinks with some other players who were through for the season. He was conscripted and dragged to Maple Leafs Gardens, where coffee and a cold shower were used to sober him up for action. He played over his head and led the Windy City contingent to a 3-1 victory.

  However, two and a half decades later, Moore himself squelched the popular yarn. He told both Ken Mackenzie of the Hockey News and Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star that he was at home, and had not even had one beer, when the call came for him to be called into emergency service. Frank Selke Sr. confirmed this correction, saying that it was he who suggested that Smythe telephone the backstop at his residence. As someone has said: “the length of the tale grows with the telling!”

 Certainly Syl Apps Sr. was a “horse of a different colour” when it came to his personality as a pro hockey player. He didn’t drink, smoke, or swear, and was a gentleman from the word go on and off the ice.  He was guilty of rule infractions to the tune of only 56 P.I.M. in 10 years—423 games in the Big Time. When he won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1942 he had spent zero minutes in the sin bin. But the Blood Horse magazine of the American Thoroughbred Breeders Association thought he was a horse; and when he broke his leg in 1943 it was reported in this publication. As Jim Coleman put it in his Globe and Mail column: “The horsemen must have been surprised when he hadn’t been humanely destroyed after the accident!”

Bob Elson was the radio play-by-play announcer for the Blackhawks in the early 1940’s. He was known for his relaxed attitude when calling the action for the Windy City crew.

Apparently, he was fun-loving and a bit of a wit as well. Two examples of what are believed to be “accidentally on purpose” flubs took place in 1941. The first “slip” was recorded during the February 22 game between the Hawks and the Habs. He described “Dahlstrom and Chamberlain bumping together and both fell to their feet!”  The second boo boo seems to have been connected with the December 9th contest again Boston. This time he got his mords wixed and referred to the Chicago-ites as the “Blockheads”!

  Modere “Mud” Bruneteau quietly, but efficiently, plied his trade on the longest-lasting forward line in the NHL during wartime, along with Sid Abel and Carl Liscombe. In fact, he continually set the pace in the stats department. Yet, after nine years in the world’s premier circuit, the league hadn’t fine-tuned his profile in their records. He was still incorrectly profiled as left-handed shot playing left wing—when after some 320 games he was, as he had always been, a right-handed shot cruising the right corridors on the ice of the various arenas.

    During World War II, every NHL team was scrambling to find enough talented skaters to ice a full roster. Fresh out of junior hockey, Harvey Bennett Sr. was called upon by the Boston Bruins to share goalkeeping duties with Paul Bibeault for the 1944-45 campaign. He was between the pipes for the Beantowners for 25 games.

   One publication recorded that he subbed for Chuck Rayner who was in military service. ”Bonnie Prince Charlie” was indeed wearing an armed services uniform—but he had exchanged a White, Gold and Black for Navy Blue. He had last stood in the crease for the Brooklyn Americans. It was Frank Brimsek, who had enlisted from the Hub scene, whom Bennett had replaced.

  In the mid-1960’s, some shinny scribe, who apparently fancied himself a master of diagnosis, had submitted another one of those “What’s wrong with the Leafs?” tidbits. It was Jim Pappin, then wearing the Blue and White, who chuckled: “……I read that one of the Leafs’ troubles during the season was the failure of the line of myself, Peter Stemkowski, and Bob Pulford to operate well. Do you know how many games that line played together? Three!”

   Bill Libby, who covered the Los Angeles Kings for several years, shared highlight of an interview with Ross Lonsberry in 1969. When he asked the latter about his marriage the previous summer to Juanita Osborne in Oklahoma City, the answer caught Libby by surprise; “It never happened!”   

   The scoop was this: Jon Washington knew about the approaching nuptials, and, in preparing a piece for a magazine, he reported it as a done deal. But the fact of the matter was the couple decided it wasn’t the right time, and put the wedding on hold. Eventually the ceremony did take place, but sometime after the announcement in print.

  Every scribe who reports on NHL hockey in the city in which he is part of the sports writing team, is not always known for his savvy about the ice game. That is especially true where expansion teams are involved. So, even though the Blues had been in St. Louis three seasons, this miscue made it into one of the locale’s newspapers. When Montreal’s injury list was published, Larry Pleau, suffering from torn knee ligaments was referred to as Larry Ceilarsville.

   In March 2017, this column was entitled “Ferreting Out Phantom Players” .Included was Punch Imlach’s mischievous prank at the 1974 NHL draft. The 183rd pick he made was Taro Tsujimoto from 

Tokyo Kanatas  (Swords). When he saw the confusion on the part of other GM’s he continued the gag, by listing him on the training camp roster. But worse, the team Publicist included him the Sabres’ Media Guide—and other teams followed suit. 

   Still with Media Guides, the Toronto Maple Leafs 1980-81 included the page for Bill Derlago. He was a stocky fellow, whose legs were unusually sturdy. But he was listed as weighing 914 pounds!

   Back in March 1988, ESPN’s Roy Firestone, while interviewing Ron Hextall, managed to pull a couple of boners in the process. First he acknowledged that “goaltenders can be unusual”, and proceeded to give a “for instance”. He noted how Gilles Meloche believed that he had lived another life centuries ago.  However, while he had a right situation, he credited the wrong twinetender—it was actually Gilles Gratton. He then broached the subject of Hextall’s problem of clearing the puck from his own end—accusing the only backstop who actually scored two goals in his career. Oooops!

  It always takes the sports segment of the fifth estate in a new city time to get used to every element of the game—including the name of team members. When the Panthers had been just a year in Florida, a Miami broadcaster was discussing former Winnipeg Jets’ Doug Smail and Dale Hawerchuk. He inadvertently referred to them as “Smell and Hawercheck”!

  A different strain of the same malady hit another Sunshine State sports editor while the NHL Governors were enjoying the warmer climes for their meetings in St. Petersburg in September 1992. Press releases were regularly being sent to all newspapers located in the cities and surrounding areas where franchises were situated. The sports editor of the Palm Springs Post was tossing all these significant stories into the waste basket. When questioned by one of his staff about these actions he replied: “This is what those idiot northerners consider good copy!”

  Once more unfamiliarity with the game, and especially with team personnel, led to a novice reporter appearing to sound like he savvied the finer points of hockey. One year after the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim had paddled into California, on April 19, 1995, the visiting Maple Leafs had defeated the fledgling squad 3-2.  Doug Gilmour had played his usual stalwart game, but it was defenseman Todd Gill who popped in two tallies and added an assist. Guilty of mistaken identity, the scribe asked Pat Burns, “Are you trying to get Gilmour involved in offense?”

   Hockey fans will remember the Mighty Ducks’ gas-powered wall of fire. Players entered the playing surface before the game through this glaring hoop. As well, the player’s names were featured in lights. Misspelled skater’s names is nothing new—we have already made reference to one instance above. Over the years coach Rudy Pilous was Lou Pilsoux; Eric Staal’s surname was Stall; Lars Eller grew old quickly with Elder; and even “the Great One” was not immune, with “Gretsky”. But when it is magnified in living colour it is even worse: Paul Kariya was Paul Karpov!

   In March 1997, The Infinity Broadcasting Corporation got themselves in a collective bind when show host Craig Caron reported that “Eric Lindros was suffering from the aftereffects of alcohol use on the night of February 14 and that he had been suspended by the Flyers.”

   The truth of the matter was that he had sustained a back injury in collision with Janne Laukkanen of the Ottawa Senators and was unable to play. Apparently this was not the first instance of what the team called “reckless sensationalism” by the local station.

   NHL team Media Guides have often been guilty of blunders, as has already been noted above. And some later Fact Books are not always an improvement on the earlier ones. 

   For instance, the Maple Leafs were guilty in 1998-99 of giving Tomas Kaberle the persona-non-grata treatment. Even though he began his career as a member of the Blue and White, he was not listed as part of the players roster. In fact, he was not even included in the “Players in the System” section.

   In the 2000-01 version of the Rangers’ publication, Valeri Kamenesky was also left out of the “Active Player Roster”. Instead he was listed among the “retirees”.

   In 2009, when the St. Louis Blues included the all-time Captains line-up, Jimmy Roberts’ name, who had worn the “C” during the 1971-72 campaign was nowhere to be found.

   It’s amazing what just one wrong vowel can do to change the sense of a statement.  Following the May 11, 2006 match between the Senators and Sabres, the Ottawa Citizen printed a comprehensive summary of the contest. It included little tidbits like “Zdeno Chara led all players in total ice time—30 minutes and 50 seconds; Christoph Schubert and Daniel Alfredsson had the most shots by individual Ottawa players—four each; Alex Kaleta was the leader among the Buffalo sextet with five; and Jason Spezza won 11 of 15 faceoffs; and the Sabres outsh-t the Senators 32-28!

   Buzzfeed, the multimedia giant, got its wires crossed in 2014—it referred to the Los Angeles Kings being based in Sacramento. Actually the basketball team in that city is also the Kings. 

   The old adage spawned from Mark Twain’s response to his mistaken obituary—“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, in principle, would seem to apply to Edmonton’s scoring sensation, Connor McDavid. In 2015, his first season in the NHL, a video displayed several spectators in Oiler gear weeping openly. The reason portrayed was that he had suffered a “career-ending” injury during his first ever shift on the ice.

  On May 8, 2017, after the Predators had eliminated the St. Louis Blues, one Nashville newspaper reported that the locals’ latest playoff win meant they were going directly into the Stanley Cup finals. Actually they had to complete the challenges of the Conference Finals first.

  And then there was the time the Montreal Wanderers were referred to as the Wonderers.

  George Bernard Shaw was right: “The single-biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”    I rest my case!

Viewed 1270 times

Go to top

Blues Not the Only St. Louis Pro Hockey Champions - Part One
Posted October 14, 2019

That Decisive Seventh Game
Posted May 26, 2019

You Gotta Have Hart!
Posted May 13, 2019

He Shoots! He Scores! Hockey's Clarion Call
Posted April 25, 2019

Second Thoughts on Penalties
Posted April 14, 2019

His Night to Howell
Posted March 30, 2019

Firing Blanks
Posted March 18, 2019

Humour - A Way to Catch Your Balance
Posted March 03, 2019

The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 2
Posted February 15, 2019

The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 1
Posted February 01, 2019

The Rise and Fall of Sweater Number 9
Posted January 23, 2019

Penalty-Free NHL Games
Posted January 09, 2019

The Greatest of These is Charity
Posted December 22, 2018

Minor League 'Davids' Defeating Major League 'Goliaths'
Posted December 07, 2018

The Shadow Knows
Posted November 25, 2018

Lying Down on the Job
Posted November 04, 2018

The Perils and Pleasures of Water
Posted October 19, 2018

Hockey's Cinderella Teams
Posted October 07, 2018

"Stop Thief!"
Posted May 19, 2018

Hockey's Classic Embarrassing Moments
Posted May 10, 2018

Playing in a Fog
Posted April 21, 2018

Media Goofs
Posted April 08, 2018

First Game, First Shift, First Goal!
Posted March 26, 2018

Always a Bridgroom
Posted March 12, 2018

The Year the Canadiens Almost Died
Posted February 24, 2018

Tangled With the Law and the Lawless - Part 2
Posted February 17, 2018

Tangled With the Law and the Lawless
Posted January 28, 2018

Lucky Black Cats and Number 13
Posted January 17, 2018

Concussions in Hockey Nothing New
Posted December 30, 2017

The Best Christmas I Remember
Posted December 18, 2017

Filling the Gap
Posted December 01, 2017

Off Duty Injuries; mishaps away from the rink
Posted November 13, 2017

The Most Cruel Bird of All
Posted October 26, 2017

Las Vegas — NHL's 31st Team — Knights or Knaves?
Posted October 13, 2017

Playing Under the Influence - of Pain
Posted May 29, 2017

In Tune Pucksters
Posted May 14, 2017

Laughter - The Best Medicine
Posted April 29, 2017

The Last Straw
Posted April 15, 2017

Whose Side Are You On Anyway?
Posted March 30, 2017

Ferreting Out Phantom Hockey Stars
Posted March 17, 2017

A Woman's On the Ice (Part 2)
Posted March 08, 2017

A Woman's On the Ice (Part 1)
Posted February 19, 2017

Tales From the Sin Bin!
Posted February 04, 2017

Happy 100th Birthday N.H.L
Posted January 25, 2017

New Year's Resolutions that Might Have Been
Posted January 06, 2017

It Happened on December 25th
Posted December 21, 2016

The Best of Hockey's One-Liners
Posted December 10, 2016

The Price of Stardom
Posted November 18, 2016

Is There a Doctor in the House?
Posted November 03, 2016

Auston Matthews: Liberator or Lemon?
Posted October 14, 2016

Hockey's Multi-Generation Families
Posted June 16, 2016

Picture Perfect - A Dozen Classic Hockey Photos
Posted June 08, 2016

Anatomy of the Penalty Shot
Posted May 17, 2016

Hockey's Honourary Indian Chiefs
Posted May 04, 2016

Goaltender's Idiosyncrasies
Posted April 17, 2016

Records That Will Never Be Broken
Posted March 31, 2016

Right Church — Wrong Pew
Posted March 23, 2016

Does "Captain" Mean Much Anymore?
Posted March 02, 2016

I Quit!
Posted February 21, 2016

Now That's Not Pun-ny!
Posted February 07, 2016

A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 2
Posted January 26, 2016

A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 1
Posted January 06, 2016

Christmas Babies
Posted December 29, 2015

Practice Can Be Precarious
Posted December 11, 2015

How Much is a Body Worth?
Posted November 25, 2015

Brooklyn Bridge is Falling Down...
Posted November 15, 2015

Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part Two)
Posted November 01, 2015

Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part One)
Posted October 16, 2015

From Champs to Chumps
Posted June 07, 2015

Posted May 11, 2015

Putting the Bite on the Opposition
Posted April 24, 2015

One Eyed Wonders
Posted April 12, 2015

Captain Cage Cop
Posted March 26, 2015

Trade Deadline Deals — Blockbuster or Bluster?
Posted March 17, 2015

Fun In the Snow
Posted February 27, 2015

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated
Posted February 16, 2015

It's not what they said - it's what they meant!
Posted January 31, 2015

Funny Fights
Posted January 18, 2015

Hockey's New Years Babies
Posted January 03, 2015

Strange Gifts - Christmas or Otherwise
Posted December 20, 2014

Two Dozen + 1 Wacky Wonders
Posted December 06, 2014

The Last of a Long Line of...
Posted November 24, 2014

A Compendium of Referee Non-Calls
Posted November 09, 2014

40th Anniversary of the 1974 Summit Series
Posted October 25, 2014

The Many Faces of Training Camp
Posted October 13, 2014

The Rise and Fall of Playoff Heroes
Posted May 30, 2014

Boston Bruins Celebrate 90 Years
Posted May 17, 2014

A Curse Upon Ye!
Posted May 01, 2014

For the Birds
Posted April 20, 2014

They Were Not Fooled By Their Birthdates
Posted April 08, 2014

Bitten By The Hand That Feeds
Posted March 22, 2014

Tongue in Check
Posted March 08, 2014

A Few L.A.F.F.S. to Relieve your S.A.D.
Posted February 21, 2014

The Ultimate Valentine - A Kiss
Posted February 08, 2014

Hats Off to Hockey
Posted January 25, 2014

Horsing Around
Posted January 11, 2014

New Year's Revelations
Posted December 30, 2013

Christmas Specials
Posted December 23, 2013

Esposito vs Esposito - Smith vs Smith
Posted November 30, 2013

Just Dying to Play Hockey
Posted November 17, 2013

What's In 50 Years
Posted November 02, 2013

The Ongoing Resolve - NHL Season is Too Long!
Posted October 20, 2013