smoke ’em if you got ’em, having just shut out detroit, while recovering from the chicken pox. plus, two stitches

abel + rollins

The Light Years: Chicago was in last place in December of 1953, thanks in part to first-place Red Wings trouncing them 9-0 and 9-4 to start the month. Still, a week later, the Black Hawks went into Detroit and beat them 3-0. Which pleased coach Sid Abel (left), understandably. With 40 saves, goalie Al Rollins earned the shutout and the smoke. A Detroit stick had cut him for two stitches by the left eye during the game. As game reports noted, he was also recovering from chicken pox.

The Toronto Star’s ever nimble Cathal Kelly wonders today (here, paywalled) about the nagging of athletes who might or might not smoke a cigarette every now and then. “While professional athletes and the stakes they play for are growing,” he writes, “players are perversely expected to avoid doing anything which puts themselves or others at risk of harm. That was once the whole point of most sports. Watching grown men trying to kill each other.

Now it’s the counterpoint — the constant reaction to violence in football, drugs in baseball, fighting in hockey and smoking everywhere.”

For a full perspective on hockey’s ashtrays and cigarettes, Kelly points the way to Adrian Dater’s 2012 comprehensive feature at Sports Illustrated, here.