“The game moved along swiftly, and the continuous action and numerous scrimmages moved the onlookers to high excitement. One scrimmage at the west end of the rink was so wild in the second period that three spectators tumbled onto the ice and crushed three perfectly good derby hats.”
• “Ottawa Hockey Club Downs Wanderers”, The New York Times, March 21, 1911
indexAlex Ovechkin Art Ross Aurele Joliat bad behaviour Bernie Parent Bobby Bauer Bobby Orr Bob Gainey Boston Brendan Shanahan Butch Bouchard Canadiens Carey Price Chicago Ching Johnson Clarence Campbell coaches concussions Conn Smythe Dave Bidini debris Detroit Don Cherry Eddie Shore fighting Gary Bettman George Hainsworth goalies Gordie Howe groins head trauma hospital Howie Morenz Jack Adams Joffrey Lupul John Tortorella Ken Dryden Kenny Reardon Maple Leafs Marc Nadon Mark Messier Max Bentley Mike Babcock Milt Schmidt Montreal Newsy Lalonde New York Rangers Olympics ouch Paul Henderson Pavel Datsyuk Philadelphia Phil Esposito Pocket Rocket Randy Carlyle referees Rocket Richard Ron MacLean Roy MacGregor Sid Abel Sidney Crosby SIHR Sochi sorry sportswriters Stephen Harper Stephen J. Harper Steven Stamkos Ted Lindsay Terry Sawchuk Toe Blake USA Vladislav Tretiak Wayne Gretzky Zdeno Chara
Just so we’re clear, Justice Clément Gascon was at no time drafted by any NHL team, ever, and has refrained (so far) from saying he was.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s newest nominee, to the Supreme Court of Canada starts his new job next Monday.
His draft year would have been 1979, if he’d gone the hockey route, and flourished. That was a good one for actual hockey talent as opposed to notional: Ray Bourque, Michel Goulet, Mike Gartner, and Kevin Lowe were all selected in the first round.
I don’t mean to pick historical nits, except when I do, which today … yes, nits will be picked. After all, if there’s anything we in the business of hockey retrospecting have learned in the weeks since researchers Carl Gidén, Patrick Houda, and Jean-Patrice Martel published Hockey Origins, their blockbuster debunkery of Canadian claims on the game’s birth, it’s maybe this: assume that everything concerning the game’s early days is written on ice until it’s proved conclusively that it can’t be effaced.
Jeff Z. Klein has a nice feature in today’s New York Times wondering about the origin of the beloved handshake with which hockey playoff series traditionally end. That it baffles the logic to witness an embrace between a player (see Prust, Brandon) who might previously have broken another’s jaw (see Stepan, Derek) only seems to make it more, Klein’s word, “special.” Sometimes, sure, a guy will promise to fucking kill several other guys (see Lucic, Milan), but as Klein writes, that’s rare enough.
So far so good. It’s when he follows Liam Maguire’s hazy path back towards the beginnings of the hockey handshake that the discussion strays.
Maguire is an Ottawa radio-host and published author, an NHL historian and prospective city councillor. He sometimes refers to himself as “the worlds [sic] number one NHL historian.” In May, he posted a recollection online about running into an old-timer, name of Lamb, whose cousin Joe had played in the NHL in the 1920s and on through the ’30s.
This was in 1980, at a retirement residence near Manotick, Ontario. Maguire and Mr. Lamb got to talking hockey. There was beer and there were scrapbooks. There, in the latter, something very, very interesting caught the young researcher’s eye:
Among the dozens and dozens of newspaper clippings was a very yellow parched story detailing an all-star game in 1908.
This was the Hod Stuart benefit game; the cover-point for the Montreal Wanderers had died in a diving accident two months after helping his team win the 1907 Stanley Cup. The memorial game was a sell-out at the Montreal Arena, with a crowd of 300 or so raising $2,010 for his family. With Art Ross and Pud Glass in their line-up, Wanderers won, 10-7, defeating an all-star team featuring Percy LeSueur and Frank Patrick.
That day in Mr. Lamb’s room, in 1980 I was looking at a newspaper report of the game and some pictures. Among them was a picture of Art Ross of the Wanderer’s shaking hands with Frank Patrick’s from the all-stars. Looked totally normal, something we’d see a million times. But then Mr. Lamb said, ‘son, do you realize that this is the first handshake recorded in hockey?’
A significant juncture in hockey history, then — very important. Until that moment, Maguire told Klein this past Friday, hockey players never shook hands. Are you kidding? There’s no way. The game was too violent in those olden times. But a man had died, a friend, a fellow, a teammate. This was different, and they shook. “It’s as plausible an explanation as exists,” Maguire said, “and I’ve done quite a lot of research on it.”
According to Maguire’s senior source 34 years ago, the practice spread from there — by hand, if you like: Art Ross and the Patrick brothers kept it up during subsequent Stanley Cup challenges, along with the rest of the players from the 1908 game. Thus the tradition began.
It’s a good story and, yes, plausible, even if you’re willing to believe that the clippings in question featured photographs of the Hod Stuart game. I confess I’m skeptical on that count — you rarely see hockey photos in the papers from that era — though I’d be pleased to be shown I’m wrong.
Did the players shake hands at the end of that game? Why not — probably so. The same contemporary accounts I’ve seen that don’t feature photos fail to mention handshakes, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. I’d bet they did.
They weren’t, however, the first recorded in hockey. Continue reading
That the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens three games to one in March of 1932 and advanced to play Toronto in the Stanley Cup final has no bearing on tonight’s meeting between the two teams, of course. If you’re a Canadiens’ fan, it might give you a bad, twitchy feeling all the same. Courage: those antique Rangers ended up losing to the Maple Leafs.
If it is 1932 that this British Pathé newsreel shows. If, as the title card tells us, it was a game played on New York ice and “CANADA (Montreal)” beat “AMERICA in play-off for Stanley Trophy — in the fastest game on earth!” … well, that didn’t happen in ’32. Montreal, two-time defending champions, only managed to win the first game that year, and that was at home. They then lost the second game, 4-3 (in epic overtime), before heading for the old Madison Square Garden and losses of 1-0 and 5-2. I think what we’re watching here is the middle New York game. That’s defenceman Ott Heller, number 14, we see scoring, as he did. A recent call-up from the Springfield Indians, he also scored in the next game, a pair of goals, but Montreal centre Pit Lepine didn’t play in that one, and he’s here in ours, number 9, at the opening face-off. (He’d collide with the Rangers’ Bill Cook before the night was out, breaking a leg.)
That said, L.S.B. Shapiro’s description of Heller’s goal in The Gazette doesn’t perfectly match up with what we see in skittering black and white:
The fair-haired rookie took the puck at his own defence, rushed down centre ice in a brilliant burst of speed and split the Canadien defence as though with a knife to burst in on Hainsworth. The goalie dived to save, but Heller played the shot with the wisdom of a veteran and flipped the puck over the goalie’s hurtling body high into the far corner of the nets. The exact time was two minutes and eight seconds after the start of the second period.
Close enough, I guess. Joseph Nichols from The New York Times saw it a little more succinctly. Heller picked the puck in his zone and sped along “the north lane.” Then:
Marty Burke advanced to check him, but the Ranger defense man feinted cleverly and evaded his eager opponent. Gaining a clear path for a shot, Heller rifled the puck past George Hainsworth, the Canadiens goalie, to register in 2:08.
When the final game of the series was all said and done, Heller was being hailed, again, as the difference-maker. The Gazette:
The brilliant reign of the Flying Frenchmen of Montreal ended in the coronation cheers of a new king of New York sportdom for, while the Canadien veterans, were fighting their hardest in the face of fatigue and painful injury, the flying feet and the tricky shift of 21-year-old Eberhardt (Ott) Heller proved the mainspring of the New York Rangers’ attack …
Hats off to him. Still, for me, Heller wins only supporting-actor laurels for his British Pathé performance. I’m much more interested in Ching Johnson’s headlong rush and Howie Morenz’s sinuous skating. Best of all, though, is George Hainsworth’s fantastic disgust with the puck in the moments after it has so brutally betrayed him.
In Chicago, when the Black Hawks used to play, the fans used to throw stuff, including paper airplanes. Associated Press correspondent Charles Chamberlin went after the story in 1944:
Further to Don Cherry’s faux history of hockey farm fatalities from May 22, we now know that:
• it wasn’t necessarily Bill Cook’s farm manager who drove the bull away after he’d gored the Ranger coach, as reported that day in May in 1952 in The Globe and Mail. According to The New York Times, it was Cook’s son Francis who went to his aid and rescued him from his attacker.
• Cook’s injuries included (The Toronto Daily Star) “a split shoulder blade and seven broken ribs.” The following fall, back behind the bench in New York, he was surprised that anyone was interested in his health. “Why,” he said, “I feel fine.”
• by the end of the year, Cook couldn’t wait for a new one. The Rangers were in last place as midnight struck on December 31 and 1953 dawned, having won just five of 34 games. The Rangers and their wives were celebrating that night at New York’s Belvedere Hotel, where a correspondent from The Globe caught up with him:
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he exulted. “They tried to kill me, they tried to burn me out, and the team is going lousy.” He was referring to the bull that attacked him on his farm outside Kingston, and to the tractor that exploded into flames in his barn and almost burned down his entire farm, and to the horrible record of the Rangers.”
Alex Galchenyuk scored early in overtime tonight as the Montreal Canadiens slipped past the New York Rangers 3-2, mere moments after Don Cherry got his hometown history mixed up.
New York holds a 2-1 series in the Eastern Conference final. The two teams meet again on Sunday night.
The history lesson came in the intermission between the third period and overtime when Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean cornered Cherry with a quick tribute to the earliest 1920s-era Rangers, including Frank Boucher and brothers Bill and Bun Cook, who (cue the Coach) lived for long years in Cherry’s beloved Kingston, Ontario.
MacLean didn’t want Cherry to tell us all how the elder Cook, Bill, died — that’s what he said. So Cherry did tell: Cook was a farmer and one of his big bulls crushed him against a gate.
It’s a story Cherry has told before. For example, in 1997 in a selfless Q-and-A with Hamilton Spectator readers:
Q. Whom do you consider is the best player from Kingston, Ont.?
— Rick McCarthy, Vancouver
A. We’ve had a lot of great players come from there, including myself, Wayne Cashman, Kenny Linseman, Jim Dorey, Rick Smith, Doug Gilmour, Kirk Muller.
But the best, from what I’m told, was Bill Cook, a player for the New York Rangers back in the 1930s. He was a Hall of Famer, a big tough player who could skate like the wind and score. He was an all- star and a Stanley Cup winner.
Unfortunately, a sad thing happened to Bill. He lived to be about 85, and still worked his farm there. He had a monster Holstein bull. People kept telling him, “That bull is too mean.” The bull killed him, caught him between a gate and a fencepost.
It was a sad way for Bill to go out, but I would have to say he’s the best one ever from Kingston.
In fact, Cook died in Kingston at the age of 89, in 1986, of cancer.
He did have a bad experience with one of his bulls, but that was in the spring of 1952, not long after he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It happened like this: