Image

ante-oiler

Ante-Oiler: Duke Keats, star of Edmonton's Eskimos from the old WCHL and a future Hall-of-Famer, out for a country ramble during the 1921-22 season. (Photo: Glenbow Archives, NC-6-8095)

Ante-Oiler: Duke Keats, star of Edmonton’s Eskimos from the old WCHL and a future Hall-of-Famer, out for a country ramble during the 1921-22 season.
(Photo: Glenbow Archives, NC-6-8095)

pat quinn, 1943—2014

1971-72 O-Pee-Chee #122 Pat Quinn

Roy MacGregor’s requiem at The Globe and Mail is the one I’d send you to, here, followed by Steve Milton’s tribute at The Hamilton Spectator and this one that Rosie DiManno wrote for The Toronto Star. I’d quote Trevor Linden, who said earlier on Monday, “We have lost a great man. It’s a sad day for hockey and for everyone who loves our game.” Then I’d leave it at that.

(Photo: The Want List, hockeymedia, on flickr)

Aside

tikhonov 1From Moscow, Monday’s early morning brings word that legendary Soviet-era coach Viktor Tikhonov has died after a long illness. He was 84. Three times his national teams won Olympic gold, and his world championships were eight. “He was a man consumed by hockey,” Lawrence Martin writes in The Red Machine (1990). “For him it was like gambling or alcoholism, an addiction. He had to win and win again — and keep winning.” He was repairing buses in the 1940s when Vsevolod Bobrov took note of his soccer and ball-hockey exploits in the depot yard, which led to a place on defence on Vasily Stalin’s Air Force hockey team. Martin quotes Tikhonov explaining his coaching credo:

All that I know of myself is that nothing was ever given to me without effort, not when I first stepped out on the ice or now, when I am carrying the coach’s burden. Stubborn labour, self-sacrifice, fanatical devotion to a favoured activity, tireless perfection of athletic professionalism — these are, in my understanding, the key to success for every hockey player and every athlete. And these principles I always and everywhere defend.

this week: instead I ate cinnamon buns

Louis, Louis: Toronto-born artist Jeff Molloy lives and works on Gabriola Island, B.C. To see more of his wonderful work, steer over to http://molloy.ca/jeff/. "I create multi-dimensional, multi-sensory works," he says there, "that explore historical and contemporary culture through the use of humour, stereotypes, traits and artifacts." The box above called "Two Minutes for Interference, Five Minutes for Fighting and Death for Unsportsmanlike Conduct."

Louis, Louis: Toronto-born artist Jeff Molloy lives and works on Gabriola Island, B.C. To see more of his wonderful work, steer over to http://molloy.ca/jeff/. “I create multi-dimensional, multi-sensory works,” he says there, “that explore historical and contemporary culture through the use of humour, stereotypes, traits and artifacts.” The box above called “Two Minutes for Interference, Five Minutes for Fighting and Death for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.”

From southern Europe, this week, word of an old goalie’s persisting desire: “Martin Brodeur,” noted @icehockeyspain, “aún tiene el gusanillo de jugar y quiere regresar a las pistas.”

Wondered Franklin Steele at Today’s Slapshot: does the NHL have a better line right now than Tarasenko, Schwartz and Lehtera?

Newly indicted Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg remembered growing up in Örnsköldsvik and what he ate there as a young athlete. Sorry, inducted. Inductee Foppa Forsberg said, “I really didn’t eat anything — no meat, no fish — and at school I ate maybe on two days out of five. I didn’t like anything, so instead I ate cinnamon buns when I got home. The rule was max three buns, never four. And when I got to middle school and we were allowed to leave the yard during breaks, I could ride my bike home and eat pancakes Mom had made and put in the freezer. I didn’t start to eat properly until high school, so I went from nothing to everything.”

Goaltender Dominik Hasek is another new Famer to enter the Hall. Chris Ryndak of Sabres.com caught us up on what he’s been up to since leaving the ice in 2012:

In retirement, he says he’s active with the Czech Republic’s Hockey Hall of Fame, enjoys playing other sports — that may include bike rides in the country — and has some business ventures he’s invested in. He also has a new English Setter that he’s looking forward to spending more time with.

The Leafs won a couple of games this week, but before that they lost three in a row. Two of those, to Buffalo and Nashville, were whuppings. Towards the end of the 9-2 drubbing by merciless Predators,

The Leafs won a couple of games this week, but before that they lost three in a row. Two of those, to Buffalo and Nashville, were whuppings. Towards the end of the 9-2 drubbing by merciless Predators,

another jersey

Phil Kessel took a Marxian view: it was a question of class. Asked about it at practice next day, he told Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston,

It’s disrespectful, right? Not just to us but to the organization, to all of the Leafs players that have ever played for Toronto. If you want to boo us, but you’re disrespecting all of the great players and the great teams that they’ve had before us here. That’s the way I look at it. I think that’s pretty classless to throw your jersey on the ice like that.

lucic will

was a non-ironic headline in a Boston newspaper this week. (Lucic mostly did.) Continue reading

margaret atwood, hockey writer

Happy birthday, today, to Margaret Atwood, who’s 75. Time to consider her place as a hockey novelist, then? Yes, probably so, high time — or at least it would be, if indeed the game had any presence in her work. It doesn’t. None. Oh, she gives it a glance, here and there. How else was she going to begin a poem called “February” (1995) other than the way she begins it:

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey.

Still, let’s not be fooling ourselves — from there on in, it’s a cat poem.

Should it worry us that our greatest novelist has no room for hockey in her vast dystopian vision? I don’t think so. I counsel calm. And offer this: Survival, Atwood’s brilliant 1972 study of Canadian literature, is a seminal text when it comes to understanding why we play on the ice. “It is in their attitudes towards winter,” Atwood writes, “that Canadians reveal most fully their stance towards Nature — since … winter for us is the ‘real’ season.” Hockey is part of the war we wage on winter, our continual campaign to drive it back, conquer, defeat it; it’s also how we embrace the season, celebrate and honour and love it. Doesn’t matter that the game doesn’t figure at all in the pages of Survival. That’s just how it is, here: if you’re writing about literature and landscape, climate and Canadianness, who we are and how we live in this land, then you’re writing about hockey whether you say so or not.

 

 

Video

mr. h

mr g

the hockey sweater: buyer beware

It’s 30 years since Roch Carrier published The Hockey Sweater. Sheldon Cohen’s film for the National Film Board came later, in 1980, but first there was the story, in French, “Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace,” followed by Sheila Fischman’s English translation. As Tundra Books prepares to unleash a special anniversary edition this fall, we can’t deny the enduring power of its very modern message, the gist of which is as important nowadays to those of us who do our shopping online as it was to mothers ordering from catalogues in Quebec in the 1940s: keep your receipts. But is it time, too, that we recognized Carrier’s beloved tale of childhood and hockey for the searing indictment of youthful cruelty and small-town prejudice that it really is? From Puckstruck, page 40:

The Hockey Sweater? It’s true that as I’m reaching for Roch Carrier’s 1979 classic the thought does radiate through my mind that here is the game’s innocent exuberance distilled into a form of pure refreshment, no nasty additives or aftertaste. But have you re-read it lately? It’s a very disturbing story. I don’t just mean the mail-order tragedy that young Roch suffers as a young consumer — that’s the least of it. The bullying he undergoes is unprecedented in Canadian literature. It’s not just the kids, either: his own mother turns her back on him and the priest is a tyrant. Not even God can help poor Roch in his pariah’s Leaf-blue.

 

Image

ready aye ready

Battledressing: Sub-Lieutenant J.C.Fritz, defenceman with the Royal Canadian Navy’s hockey team, takes treatment for a wound suffered during a game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on February 18, 1943. (Credit: John Merriman / Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-107134)

Battledressing: Sub-Lieutenant J.C.Fritz, defenceman with the Royal Canadian Navy’s hockey team, takes treatment for a wound suffered during a game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on February 18, 1943. (Credit: John Merriman / Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-107134)

le pompier: he does everything strong

1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #177 Guy Lapointe“His father was a fire captain” is a phrase you sometimes see in biographies of Guy Lapointe, who’s 66 now, usually right before a mention that he was all set to become a policeman before hockey claimed him. Tonight, just before the Montreal Canadiens raise Lapointe’s number 5 to the rafters of the Bell Centre, a few notes on his career might be in order. For example:

Growing up, in Montreal, his favourite player was Jean Béliveau. He only started playing hockey at the age of 13, and never dreamed of playing for the Canadiens: he didn’t think he was good enough. When he was invited to his first Montreal training camp, his dad had to browbeat him to go. He thought his chances of making the team were zero.

When he turned professional, he spoke not word of English, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Teammates laughed at him, until he threw one of them over the boards. The first time he sat in the Montreal dressing room, getting ready to play his first game, he could hardly tie his skates, due to nerves and the excitement of looking at Béliveau across the way. His first year in the NHL, Montreal won the Stanley Cup. It was unbelievable.

That’s what he said, not me. Also him: from the moment you’re a Hab, you learn about winning. You can’t accept even a single loss.

He was a dominant force, says the Hall, and to be reckoned with. He was one of The Big Three, obviously, with Larry Robinson and Serge Savard.

Youthful inconsistency is a phrase you sometimes come across regarding his play before he graduated to the Habs. Less obtrusive were words applied to his style in 1973, compared to Bobby Orr and Brad Park. “He’s strong,” said Béliveau. “Not just when he shoots, but in everything he does. He does everything strong.”

In 1973, just before the Canadiens won another Cup, he was the undisputed choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy, according to The Gazette in Montreal. Coach Scotty Bowman thought so, as did his counterpart from Chicago, Billy Reay. Lapointe was the one to pick the team up when they floundered, I guess, plus he was playing the powerplay and the penalty-kill and also scoring and, too, in the dressing room, he charged up his mates with some spicy invective.

But then Yvan Cournoyer won the Smythe instead — Le Chinois. I don’t know what happened.

Lapointe’s nicknames included Pointu and Le Pompier. He does a lot of swearing in Ken Dryden’s The Game (1983). He did 20 push-ups every night and another 20 when he woke up in the morning, while also playing a regular game of handball, fast. He was almost always the last player to leave the ice at practice. In The Game, Dryden alludes to with pinpointing personal burdens that may have affected Lapointe’s game before adding this:

… when the slate is clean and it is just him and the game, Pointu plays with the unrestrained joy of a boy on a river, uncomplicating the game for all of us.

Continue reading

Aside

Re: “A Bridge, By Any Other Name, Ignites A Feud,” Les Perreaux
The Globe and Mail, November 5, 2014, p. A4

At the risk of messing with the two-solitudes narrative on which Les Perreaux raises his retelling of the 1955 Richard Riot, Clarence Campbell was not “the Toronto-based NHL boss.” He was Saskatchewan-born and Edmonton-raised, and during his 31 years as president, the league’s offices were in Montreal, in the Sun Life Building, 20 minutes’ walk from the Forum.

Sincerely & etc.,
Puckstruck

Aside

Everyone agrees: St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored a wonderful goal on Monday night against the New York Rangers. It’s still showing all across the internet, where it continues to wow. Artist Ben Zurawski admits that he doesn’t watch a ton of hockey but even he was impressed, so much so that he decided, like everybody, to honour Tarasenko’s virtuosity with a flipbook. You can have all the others: I say his is the best. Watch it here.

For more of Zurawski’s work, flip to http://www.theflippist.com.

this (last) week: a busted gumball machine of loose pucks

Keep Calm and Carey On: "Target Legacy" is what Victoria artist Brandy Saturley calls this painting of Carey Price, which she finished in May of this year. "An homage to Habs goaltenders," is how she describes it, "and to an iconic Neo-Dadaist artist. Can you guess which one?" For more of her work, hockey and otherwise, visit www.brandysaturley.com.

Keep Calm and Carey On: “Target Legacy” is what Victoria artist Brandy Saturley calls this painting of Carey Price, which she finished in May of this year. “An homage to Habs goaltenders,” is how she describes it, “and to an iconic Neo-Dadaist artist. Can you guess which one?” For hints and more of her work, hockey and otherwise, visit http://www.brandysaturley.com.

Gordie Howe got rousing get-wells from all around the league after word started to circulate last week that he’d suffered a “serious” stroke. He was recovering — improving, the family said — at his daughter’s home in Texas.

“One of the game’s true legends,” Matt Larkin from The Hockey News called him, taking note of the “outpour of nostalgia and people sharing their favorite memories of him, from his dominant play as the original power forward to the way he always took time for others and never minded being adored, as he understood what it felt like to be on the other end.”

With the man himself looking on via iPad, the Detroit Red Wings paid tribute to 86-year-old Mr. Hockey ahead of their Friday-night home game against Los Angeles.

Slava Malamud from Sport Express told Pavel Datsyuk that Howe was always a big fan of his. Datsyuk: “Don’t say was. Hope he still is. Hope I’ll see him in the room again real soon.”

Among the many odes sung as the week went by were several to Howe’s hands. The Leafs’ Cody Franson shook one of them about ten years ago. “He’s just got those worker hands. That leather skin. Those very big fingers.” Allan Muir from Sports Illustrated cited “a hearty clasp from a hand the size of a canned ham, accompanied by a smile.” Another Leaf, Stephane Robidas recalled meeting Howe in 2009: “It was a real handshake. Huge hands. Even at 81, I wasn’t going to mess with him.”

Former NHL referee Paul Stewart said, yes, he was Babe Ruth of hockey but also? “He is an even better man off the ice as a true family man.”

Back to the rink, though:

In terms of his play on the ice, even apart from his nearly superhuman longevity, Gordie was the prototype for playing a hard-nosed physical game that also incorporated a tremendous level of skill. As genuinely nice and laid back as he is off-the-ice, that’s how mean and competitive he was as a player.

Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press talked to a goaltending great, Grant Fuhr, who has an autobiography out in which he talks about, among other things, the drugs he used to take when he was playing for the Edmonton Oilers.

Looking back on it, Fuhr doesn’t believe drugs hurt his performance.

“The hardest part of goaltending is to stay focused,” Fuhr said. “So the fact that you get a mental break away from the game is almost refreshing.”

Montreal went to Edmonton and lost 3-0. Canadiens’ fan Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea saw what they were doing there:

Showing the discipline of Champs, Habs resist the urge to score any goals at all against Oilers. Opponents seriously confused. Brilliant.

The Toronto Maple Leafs ailed. Were ailing. Okay, losing. Writer Stephen Marche wondered whether this is the worst Leaf team ever. “Emotionally this team feels like the most dispiriting,” he keened. Continue reading