Viewed 4420 times
Murph Chamberlain, whose off-season was taken up with dairy farming managed to take some time away from milking cows about 1952. Taking a leisurely drive through the Laurentian Mountains he was sideswiped by a car, amazingly enough, by his defense partner, Ray Getliffe.
“For the love Mike!”, he grumbled. “Here it is August and you’re still running into me!”
And so, “How was your summer?”
As observed in part 1 of this missive, while modern NHL’ers are pretty well free to choose what they want to do during their weeks away from the grind of on-ice competition, for the first 50 plus years of the circuit’s existence very few shinny mercenaries were able to escape some means of earning money between the end of one season and the commencement of the next. Even superstars like Jean Beliveau supplemented his hockey stipend with casual earning.
While Eddie Shore shoveled coal into a railway steam engine, Gordie Howe hoisted bags of cement, and Milan Marcetta pushed a lawn mower over miles of grass, there actually were some pucksters involved in contributing toward recreational activities.
Charlie Conacher (30’s) owned a dance hall for several years, providing facilities for a very popular pastime during that era.
Joe Schmidt (40’s) may not have spent much time at the beach, but he was superintendent of a public swimming pool during the warm weather.
Phil Samis left the NHL after the 1949-50 campaign to study dentistry. But up to that point he also felt at home around swimming pools—as a lifeguard.
Hank Blade (40’s) was boss of a circus when he wasn’t chasing pucks. 300 employees were accountable to him. Apparently his services were is such demand that he barely pulled off his hockey sweater when the “three rings” were beckoning for his oversight.
Edgar Laprade (1950’s) returned to Thunder Bay, Ontario during his off season and worked at a sporting goods store in Fort William. This laid the foundation for his retirement, when he owned one of his own.
Marcel Pronovost (50’s & 60’s) enjoyed the outdoors, and was right at home as a fishing guide in the off season. It stood him in good stead one night when a live eel was tossed on the ice at a Red Wing game. Apparently he was not only skilled in locating and catching them, but knew a great deal about cooking the products of angling. He offered this advice about the slimy critter which made its appearance after a home-team tally: “They are really too fat…..but if you eliminate the oil they can be successfully brazed.”
Hall of famer rearguard Tom Johnson (50’s & 60’s) operated a trailer park.
Tom Reid, who debuted in the NHL with the Blackhawks in the 1967 expansion, gravitated back home to Fort Erie, Ontario, where he was an employee of the city recreation department.
A host of hockeyists spent the bulk of their summers working towards improved education. Red Berenson (60’s & 70’s), already claimed an Arts degree when he joined the Canadiens. But he continued studies in the off-season working toward a Masters in Business Administration.
While the studious pivot was one of the earlier one of his cast to determine that higher learning was an efficient safety net into which to fall if one’s on-ice career hit a snag, he was not the earliest. The hulking Hugh Bolton (early 1950’s), who skated when brawl usually held sway over brains, patiently worked his way through to gain a degree in electrical engineering.
Billy Harris (50’s), Ted Hampson (60’s), Garry Monahan and Rick Smith (both 1970’s) are a few others who pursued the trail of intellect between hockey campaigns.
While faithful campaigners like Elmer Lach and Dick Duff, whom we mentioned last time,
sold used cars during the time off, others chose sales of another kind. Ian Turnbull and Bruce Affleck (60’s) were busy in the real estate field. Paul Ronty (50’s) Dollard St. Laurent (50’s) and John Tonelli (80’s) opted for the old reliable—peddling life insurance. Ed Sandford (50’s) gave counsel about the wisest investments in which to plant savings and earnings.
Jack Caffery and Pete Conacher (50’s), as well as Blake Dunlop (70’s & 80’s), were busy on the stock exchange.
Reed Larson (70’s & 80’s) put a little spin on money matters—he was a loan officer.
John Peirson and Jerry Toppazzini (50’s) found retail to their liking. The former was fortunate enough to find a job working for his father-in-law in the furniture business. Topper went a step further than Glen Harmon or Eddie Shack (hats), manning a clothing store in Sudbury.
Eddie Bush (30’s & 40’s) set the pace in trades for future skaters. He was an electric welder. Warren Godfrey and Gus Bodnar (both 1950’s) were involved in the tool and die field.
The hot weather of July and August enhances the sale of beverages. Several NHL’ers were representatives of Breweries—Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Jean Guy Talbot, and J.C. Tremblay (50’s & 60’s) were among them—not surprisingly for Molson’s. Toronto’s Sid Smith (50’s) carried the banner for Labatt’s, while Danny Grant (70’s) flew the banner of another competitor, Moosehead Brewers. Larry Cahan (50’s & 60’s) got right down to the nitty gritty. He drove a beer truck on deliveries. Leo Labine (50’s) chose a milder refreshment, promoting a soft drink company in North Bay.
Toe Blake (40’s), Dickie Moore and Henri Richard (both 1950’s) operated at the ultimate end of things—they owned and operated taverns.
A handful of competitors got right down and dirty in carpentry and construction. Without a doubt goalie Roger Crozier (60’s & 70’s) is the best known expert with a hammer and saw. Always super sensitive concerning his responsibilities between the pipes, he worried himself into his first ulcer when he was in Junior hockey. Like Glenn Hall he “liked everything about hockey but the games!” It was in November of 1967 that he retired “because of the torture” of his profession. He went home to Bracebridge to be a carpenter. He played 10 more seasons after that, but his avocation was brought front and centre because of that incident.
Two others netminders shared his practical talents; namely Roy Edwards and Cesare Maniago (both 60’s & 70’s). Edwards learned home repair and cabinet making from his father, and worked for his brother in the off-season. Maniago’s task was to estimate the cost of future projects for his brother’s construction company. Pete Goegan (50’s & 60’s), however, was a blueliner, whose assignment was also family related. He worked with his uncle in the Fort William/Port Arthur, Ontario area, building houses and apartments.
We would be remiss to neglect those who spent their off-season on the fairways—and got paid for it. The old adage has it that players whose team missed the playoffs, or exited the semis in the early going, “trade sticks for golf clubs”. But a significant number were hired as golf pros. Doubtless Bill Ezinicki (40’s & 50’s), Andy Bathgate (50’s & 60’s), and Vic Hadfield (60’s & 70’s) most readily come to mind. However, Metro Prystai (40’s & 50’s), Jean-Guy Gendron (50’s & 60’s), and Gerry Hart (60’s & 70’s) also lucked out earning a pay-cheque for playing another game they enjoyed.
As mentioned in part one, a remarkable variety existed in the list of summer sidelines necessarily pursued by many professional puck chasers during the pre-WHA era. They fit nicely under a heading like “odds and sods”—some being more odd than others.
*Bill “Box Car” Juzda (40’s) shared Eddie Shore’s sweat-box existence as a fireman on the railroad in Western Canada—which eventually worked into a locomotive engineer’s license.
*Cal Gardiner (50’s) drove a semi for the Denver-Chicago Company, an American-based trucking outfit which had a depot in Toronto.
Johnny Bucyk trailed wheel of a different type. He was a tow truck driver when he wasn’t patrolling his left-wing corridor.
*Bill Hay (60’s), another early graduate of college hockey to gain a spot in NHL lineups, spent his post-season time as a geologist for an oil company.
*Claire Alexander (70’s) wasn’t nicknamed the “Orillia Milkman” for nothing. This moniker tells it all.
*Jacques Plante (50’s, 60’s, & 70’s) owned a beauty parlour, and dabbled in raising chinchillas.
*Maurice “Rocket” Richard (50’s & 60’s) refereed wrestling matches, where hog-tying, a hold of which he was often victim on the ice, was legal and part of the sport.
*Alex Faulkner, the first Newfoundland native to make to the NHL, was a flash-in-the pan hero in the 1963 playoffs with Detroit. But when he returned to the “Rock” he sold flour.
We’ve saved the best until last: Alf Pike (40’s) was nicknamed “The Embalmer” because that’s was he did as a sideline. He had a “partner in crime”, Cliff Thompson of the same era, who was also a mortician “putting people on ice” after the season was concluded.
Alf "The Embalmer" Pike
Viewed 4420 times
Second Thoughts on Penalties
Posted April 14, 2019
His Night to Howell
Posted March 30, 2019
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
Posted May 19, 2018
Hockey's Classic Embarrassing Moments
Posted May 10, 2018
Playing in a Fog
Posted April 21, 2018
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 Place...is On the Ice (Part 2)
Posted March 08, 2017
A Woman's Place...is 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
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
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
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 One)
Posted October 16, 2015
From Champs to Chumps
Posted June 07, 2015
CLEAN PLAY……CLEAN PLAYERS….TRUE SPORTS
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
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
Posted January 11, 2014
New Year's Revelations
Posted December 30, 2013
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