this week: tonight even tanks won’t help

denis b 1

Once A Dutchie: Denis Brodeur and his 1956 Olympic bronze medal.

Denis Brodeur died this week, the hockey photographer and Olympic goaltender and, of course, Martin’s dad. He was 82. “My father,” Martin wrote in his 2006 memoir, “learned how to play pool on top of an empty Coca-Cola box and didn’t start playing organized hockey as we know it today until he was 16 years old.”

It was Georges Mantha who asked him whether he wanted to play Junior B. His first Junior A game, for Victoriaville, he beat Jacques Plante’s team. He was small, 5’5”, 160 pounds, which may be why he never made it to the NHL but also there was the phone call he missed one night when the New York Rovers, a Rangers’ affiliate, were looking for an emergency goalie and when they couldn’t get Brodeur, they settled for Gump Worsley instead.

From @stats_canada this week: “7% of Canadians are getting tired of talking about hockey but don’t know how to stop.”

Denis Brodeur acquired (his son’s word) 113 stitches across his face over the years, playing mostly maskless.


Viktor Zinger

Another old goalie who died this week was Viktor Zinger, who backed up Vladislav Tretiak during the 1972 Summit Series. He was 72. He played for CSKA Moscow and Spartak and he won Olympic gold in Grenoble in 1968. He also stopped enough pucks to win the Soviet Union five straight world championships in the years 1965–69.

Sports Illustrated predicted this week that it will have been Chicago over Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup when the season’s all over next June. Sportsnet Magazine agrees. The Hockey News begs to differ: St. Louis will be the one beating Pittsburgh. Which is exactly what EA Sports thinks, too. They ran a computer simulation on their own NHL 14 game to figure it out and, yep, that’s what it’s looking like. A Blues defenceman, Alex Pietrangelo, wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, with Sidney Crosby taking the Hart as leading scorer; Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos winning the Rocket Richard Trophy by scoring 64 goals; and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins getting the Vézina. Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin gets the Calder as superior rookie.

Brodeur père was stopping pucks for the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen in 1955 when they beat the Fort William Beavers to win the Allen Cup and, with it, the job of representing Canada at the Olympics in 1956. Bobby Bauer was the team’s coach. On the outdoor rinks of Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Dutchies wore sweaters white and woollen with a green maple leaf on the chest. Also, toques.

1969 was the year that Czechoslovakia beat the Soviets — and Zinger — twice at the World Championships in Stockholm — and still the Soviets won the title. As the Czechs recalled, the Soviet Army had invaded their country six months earlier, so there was some extra emotion on March 21 when the two teams first met. Czech fans brought banners to wave, “Tonight even tanks won’t help” and “In August you, tonight we.” After the game, which finished 2-0 for the Czechs, this happened:

The Czech players and supporters sang their national anthem — with faces turned to the Soviet team — the refused to shake hands with their opponents.

On March 28, when the teams met again, the Czech won 4-3. “Zinger didn’t play as well as Dzurilla,” said Soviet coach Arkady Chernishev, referring to Czech goalie Vladimir Dzurilla.

One of the banners this time read, “We were not born to lose our country.” Unfortunately, when the hometown Swedes beat the Czechs 1-0, the Soviets still finished up in first.’s Chris Johnston reported that Morgan Rielly, boy at Leafs’ camp, has been happy to be living in a hotel while he does his best to make the team. “I’m a teenager still. I like ordering room service and watching movies.”

Denis Brodeur started in net for the Dutchies in 1956, shutting out West Germany 4-0. Keith Woodall played the next game, when the Canadians ground Austria into a fine dust 23-0. Brodeur was back in for wins over Italy and Czechoslovakia and he started, too, against the U.S. In a snowstorm, the Americans surprised Canada by a score of 4-1. Twenty-two-year-old Johnny Mayasich, from Eveleth, Minnesota, scored a hattrick against the heavily favoured Canadians. His first goal came, as The New York Times told it, “when he lifted the puck high into the air from the blue line. Brodeur lost sight of the disk as it bounced rom his shoulder into the cage.”

Late in the game, Brodeur was knocked to the ice, and there was a five-minute delay before he was ready to go again. The Times:

The disappointed Canadians skated over to the American bench following the game and congratulated the United States players on their performance. Russian players, who were among the spectators, remained impassive.

Wild jubilation reigned in the American dressing room after the game. Happy players and officials danced around, laughing and singing. Even the absence of hot water in the showers failed to cool the celebration.

The Ottawa Sun quoted Senators’ coach Paul MacLean this week as saying that captain Jason Spezza would miss an exhibition game with a problem of the “minor groin.”

Bobby Bauer went back to Keith Woodall after the loss to the Americans and he was in the net for the Dutchies’ final game against the impassive Soviets. They’d learned from their loss the previous year to the Penticton Vs, pronounced The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, reporting on the game. “Shy of body contact in the 1955 final, they traded bumps vigorously with the Dutchmen,” and “their pass-patterns, while stereotyped functioned well enough to give them their margin.” With a team that included Vsevolod Bobrov, defenceman Nikolai Sologubov (“tagged by Canadian experts as good enough to play on any National Hockey League club”), with Nikolai Puchkov in goal, the Soviets won 2-0 and with that, the gold medal. An America win over Czechoslovakia left the green-leafed Canadians bronzed, in third place.

When Edmonton lost 4-0 this week to Dallas in an Oklahoma City exhibition, new coach Dallas Eakins was philosophical. “It’s good to let our team know that our diapers do stink,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen again.”

Vsevolod Bobrov was the Soviet coach, of course, in September of 1972 for the Summit Series. Viktor Zinger was one of the goalies he brought, along with Alexander Sidelnikov and a young stripling nicknamed “Gosling” back at home because of his long neck. “If all other things are equal, goaltending will make the difference,” predicted TV colour commentator Brian Conacher ahead of the first game. Canada had Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito, and Ed Johnston; the Soviets had three question marks. Conacher noted that the last really great Russian goalie, Viktor Konovolenko, had been dropped for unknown reasons while the goalie who was supposed to start, Vladimir Shepovalov, was back at home with a knee injury.

It was the next day before most Canadians learned the name of the 20-year-old goose-necked goalie: Vladislav Tretiak.

The Leafs’ Phil Kessel slashed a Buffalo winger this week, John Scott, instead of fighting him, and was suspended for his troubles. Scott is 6’8”, 270 pounds, Kessel a willowy 6’0, 202 pounds. Of those doubting his decision-making, Kessel said this: “Put ’em in that situation and see what they do. I think a lot of people that can criticize that, let’s see what they could do out there versus a guy like that. I think they’d all be in a lot of trouble.”

At The National Post, Bruce Arthur called Scott “Buffalo’s monument to Milan Lucic.”

Leaf David Clarkson got a ten-game suspension for leaving the bench to help out Kessel. He was sorry, later, to have done it. “It’s a tough one,” he said, “because if you felt like your brother or your sister or a family member was in trouble, what would your reaction be? I think what I got out of it was to next time use my head and not my heart, but I went with my heart. I think I’ve got to where I am by playing with my heart and using my heart a lot and I think that was a reaction with my heart.”

Viktor Zinger was supposed to play the third game, in Winnipeg, in 1972. But: “He was not feeling well at that time,” coach Bobrov reported later, and Tretiak ended up playing the entire series.

In Edmonton, the Oilers went to waivers to bring back Steve MacIntyre, who’s just 6’5” but weighs a pound more than Scott. His nickname is “Big Mac.” On Twitter he’s @Smacker33. “So excited to be an oiler again!” he twiddled. “What an awesome bunch of guys to be going to war with!‪#pitterpatter

Edmonton’s beloved locker room attendant — he’s been on the job for 29 years — had a birthday this week, and Jordan Eberle was one of those to wish him returns. “Happy 50th to Joey Moss,” he tweeped. “One of the best guys I have ever worked with.”

Chris Kuc from The Chicago Tribune talked to the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane about your turn on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and how myself felt about it. “It’s pretty exciting,” Kane said. “Not only for yourself personally but for where this team is at.”

“I don’t even want to tweet this,” Kuc reported a few days later: “#Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has stiffness in lower body.”

As Sidney Crosby prepared to start his ninth NHL season, TSN’s That’s Hockey asked the question that’s been on everybody’s mind: “How old does Sid have to be before we stop calling him a kid?”

Erik Karlsson wondered what kind of animal he’d be. If he’d been born an animal, instead of an Ottawa defenceman. “Probably a raccoon,” he mused @ErikKarlsson65, “or maybe a Zebra.”