Viewed 995 times
For years the Readers Digest included a feature in their monthly magazine, entitled “Laughter—The Best Medicine”. That theme was founded on Solomon’s Proverb: “A cheerful heart is good medicine!”
That philosophy was and is more than just a catchy saying. Medical science has confirmed that there are anywhere from five to thirteen benefits from a “cheerful heart”. There is actually something called “laughter therapy”, which “enhances health and wellness…..which reduces social and emotional stress and pain”.
It has been said that “laughter is the best emotional band aid in the world”.
Hence, this “Hockey’s Historic Highlights” takes the form of a prescription submitted "free of charge”, as an emotional band aid, with at least short-term benefits.
**When Eddie Shore came upon the NHL scene in 1926, the Bruins’ Art Ross did his best to make him a headline performer—even before he had proved himself on the ice. Public relations of the day was nothing like the modern version. But “Uncle Art’” highlighted the future hall of famer, promoting him as the strong and silent type off the ice, but ferocious on the ice.
One method of spotlighting the bruising defenseman was to showcase him in a pre-game performance each time Boston played at home. Before the puck was dropped the “Edmonton Express” would skate onto playing surface in a long, flowing robe, while a band blared out a fanfare. The music would stop, and he would then make several circuits of the rink before the action could begin.
To say that, while the fans ate it up, it was an irritation to opposition teams, is an understatement. A New York Americans’ coup de grace finally put a stop to it. One night, immediately after Shore’s performance, from the visitor’s side of the arena, there was another burst of music, and from the sidelines two men rushed out and rolled out a red carpet. Suddenly a smallish figures, decked out in the visitor’s stars and stripes, ran out and tripped lightly along the carpet, blowing kisses as the moved. It was none other than Charles “Rabbit” McVeigh. From then on Eddie skated out with the rest of the troops.
**Still with McVeigh, who was somewhat of a character, a decade later, he was a referee in the American Hockey League. One night he gave a player a minor penalty for some infraction or other, and was typically met with a protest. On this occasion, however, the guilty party emphasized his disagreement by throwing his stick high in the air. The diminutive whistle-tooter pointed an accusing finger and shouted: “If that stick comes back down you’ll face a $25. Fine!”
It did—and he did!
**Emil Iverson was born in Denmark, but was known on this side of the seas for his success as a University Coach in the USA. His training methods were so much ahead of the times that some of them are still used today. When he was signed as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks in the fall of 1932, the Windy City management felt he might be able to utilize those training skills. When Glenn Brydson reported to camp he was deemed to have added excess weight. So he was turned over to Iverson, who was to arrange for him to lose 15 pounds. At the end of one week, he had gained four pounds!
** After eight seasons with the Ottawa Senators and one with the Detroit Falcons, Alex “The Ottawa Fireman” Connell retired from hockey. He returned for a single game during the 1933-34 campaign to fill in for “Shrimp” Worters in the New York Americans’ cage. The Maroons made a play for his services the following campaign, and sent him a blank contract to sign. He agreed with one stipulation: “It is agreed that Alex Connell is to be relieved of action without notice the minute a fire alarm sounds” (the impish backstop implied that the fire department could not manage without him). Retaining the mocking spirit, the Montreal management consented, with their own proviso: “providing the time it sounds the play is in the enemy’s territory!”
**Back in 1937 the Montreal Maroons were part of the eight-team NHL, playing in their home arena, the Montreal Forum. One night Bill Stewart was the on-ice official, and a call he made irritated a front row spectator. The ill-tempered fan reached out as he skated by and belted him in the chops. The former baseball umpired screamed for Tommy Gorman, the locals’ manager, to have the aggressive customer ejected from the premises. “The heck with you!”, he answered. “It’s hard enough to get him into the joint! I’m not throwing him out!”
**Around 1940 “King” Clancy and NHL referee-in-chief “Mickey” Ion were walking away from Madison Square Garden after a particularly difficult task of refereeing. The crowd was on his case continually and after his hide for the calls he made with which they vehemently disagreed. Of course the usual abusive accusation was directed his way: “You’re blind, Clancy!” With the stinging comments about how lousy a job he had done still ringing in his ears, he suddenly stopped and pick up a $10. bill lying on the sidewalk. When he noticed what had taken place, Ion, the experienced official commented: Those guys had nerve calling you blind!”
**The stories behind how players have been tagged with their nicknames are many and varied. Alex Kaleta was a mild-mannered forward with the New York Rangers in the late 1940’s, and in mockery someone came up with the moniker “Killer”. But before that he was called “Sea Biscuit”. That bestowal took place after he and a teammate were sitting in a railway station waiting for train time. His buddy was reading the sports section of a newspaper—more specifically the race results for the day. “That Sea Biscuit sure is a good!”, he remarked.
“Is that so?”, questioned Kaleta. “Then I think I’ll have two of them!”
** On December 19, 1950, Leo Gravelle was traded from the Canadiens, where he had played for four seasons, in the early part of the 1950-51 campaign. Now it so happened there was George Gravelle who was an NHL referee at that same time. He was easily distinguished from other officials because he didn’t have a single hair on his head. In fact the mischievous organist at the Chicago Stadium used to strike up “Silver threads among the gold” whenever he skated out for the opening faceoff. When it was announced in the Motor City dressing room that a new player was arriving, an unthinking skater, who had names mixed up, grumbled: “What in the world do we want with a bald-headed referee?”
**Back in the days when matters relating to church mattered more, the small town of Manitou, Manitoba, hosted a Pee Wee hockey tournament. Because the games lasted the entire weekend, the local hockey association arranged for the boys to attend Sunday School on the Lord’s Day morning.
Being careful to ensure each fellow would end up in the right church when he was registered, he was asked his denomination. One young gaffer, who must not have been a regular attendee, said: “Left wing!”
*The studious Ken Dryden was already well on his way to earning a law degree when he joined the Canadiens in 1970. At that time Jacques Courtois, a prominent attorney, was president of the Bleu-Blanc-et Rouge. During that season, he visited the Habs’ dressing room and sought out the brilliant rookie netminder. “Ken.”, he said, “We’ll soon be in the same business.”
The resident quipster, Pete Mahovlich, who had been listening in, snapped: “You mean you’re going to take up goaltending, Mr. Courtois?”
** When the NHL doubled in size in the 1967 expansion, fiery Wren Blair was signed as the first coach of the Minnesota North Stars. The pace that he would set as their mentor was established after their initial contest, which ended in a 1-1 deadlock. He turned the air blue with his expressive opinions about the failures he saw in the match. That same campaign a player who had been given a specific assignment had blown it. Blair could hardly contain himself until the period ended. When it did, he stomped into the dressing room and started to bawl him out. In his exuberance he tore off is jacket and threw it at the offending skater. However, as he did so, he lost his balance because the floor was wet and slippery. Like a slapstick comic slipping on a banana peel his feet went up and he landed square on his back. The reporter who penned the story continued: “As he landed he was still spewing at the player. For a moment he lay on his back staring at the ceiling, still ranting and raving. Finally, he jerked himself erect and carried on!”
**In the fall of 1989 the Washington Capitals were touring Europe playing pre-season games. The team’s publicist, Lou Coretto, had accompanied two journalists who had accompanied the team on their tour. There were some comments made about the attractiveness of the Scandinavian waitresses, and, as men on the loose will sometimes do, they sought to strike up a conversation with the one who waited on them. “And what is the name of your hometown”, one of them asked.
“Akron, Ohio.”, she answered in impeccable English.
**Freddie Shero was a man of many moods and personality traits. He surprised his Flyer pawns one time when he was getting on Bob “Hound Dog” Kelly’s case to lack effort. The latter argued that he was contributing. The Broad Street Bullies bench boss shot back that he wanted more than that—he wanted commitment! Kelly then asked what the difference was. “I’ll tell you!” Shero philosophized. “It’s all in ham and eggs. The chicken makes contribution—but the pig makes the commitment!”
**As the 1991 season ended for the Detroit Red Wings, and the players were cleaning out their lockers, a team official handed each player a video tape of their personal highlights of the season. Defenseman Randy McKay slid his tape out of the sleeve, stared at it, and screamed: “It’s only 25 seconds long!”
When it comes to hockey humour, it reminds one of the old 1940’s radio programme, The Naked City. These adventures always ended with: “There are eight million stories in the Naked City—this has been one of them”. Well, the hockey world cannot quite match that number—but they seem to be a dime a dozen. Sadly some of the best of them are gleaned from the care-free days of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Perhaps a bit of bias peeks through in that statement, betraying the age of this writer—although, in all fairness, the media in those days gave more space to anecdotal features than their modern counterparts do.
So, with that confession out of the way, we cap this off with a prize tale from the “Original 6” era. After his playing days Clarence “Happy” Day combined both coaching and scouting for his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. During one of those searches for talent he was touring Saskatchewan and stopped in Saskatoon to watch a Senior “A” contest. Reg Bentley, who had briefly skated for the Blackhawks with his brothers, Max & Doug, was re-instated as an amateur and was included in the local line-up. Wishing to renew acquaintance, “Hap” yelled at Doug as he skated by during the warm-up. The latter looked blankly back at him, as if to say, “Who are you?” “Happy Day!”, Clarence called in explanation.
“Happy day to you too!”, he responded and skated away!
Viewed 995 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
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 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
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