Where once there was only a blog, now there’s a book, too: this month, Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada’s Hockey Obsession went on sale at booksellers across Canada and the United States. If you get to reading it, and you make it as far as page 402, you’ll find yourself steered back here, to puckstruck.com, for a list of sources cited and quoted. That’s coming next week; stay tuned.
The same page in the book also mentions notes and annotations. Those will be appearing here on the blog on an ongoing basis through the course of the winter. They’ll include outtakes, updates, oddments, detours, dead-ends, and goose-chases as well as, like today’s installment, illustrations. They’ll appear first here on the front page of the site, according to no particular schedule, in no special order; later, they’ll migrate to the Notes page, navigable via the contents bar above. They’ll refer to a page number in (and perhaps quote a passage from) the book which, as may already have been mentioned, is on sale now.
In my Dave Dryden drawing, when I look at it now, I can see no Dave Dryden. Studying the eyes — well, there aren’t any, just a vacant mask. The rest of his equipment is stacked up artfully, with the help of coat hangers or pipe cleaners. Dave himself didn’t even notice this, or else he was too polite to say anything. I’d sent the drawing to my grandfather in Edmonton, and he’d passed it on to the Oilers. What was I thinking, sending him a drawing of his empty equipment? He autographed it anyway, and returned it with his regards.
Noted: I would have been ten or eleven when I mailed that sketch to my grandfather in Edmonton. I don’t know if I knew that he’d pass it on to the Oilers’ goaltender, who then returned it to me with a friendly letter and a team photo. Could be that that was my plan from the start. Or possibly I was surprised and, while pleased for the recognition, swag, and autographs, I may also have puzzled at the same time: my grandfather didn’t want my drawing for himself?
These were WHA Oilers, the 1977-78 edition. Glen Sather was the coach: he’s in the front there, next to owner Peter Pocklington. Dryden is on the far right, above his signature. Notable skaters included Paul Shmyr (wearing the captain’s ostentatious K); Bill Flett (front row, bearded); and Dave Semenko (back row, sixth from the right). Edmonton lost in the first round of the playoffs that season. They fared better the following year. Pocklington’s purchase of a 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky helped the Oilers top the regular-season standings. In the playoffs they made it to the Avco Cup championship, though they lost there to the Winnipeg Jets. That was all for the WHA: the year after that, the Oilers and the Jets were NHLers.