the world is bigger than all those stories said

Sorry to be seeing news of the death of the poet Richard Sanger, on September 12 at the age of 59. Condolences to his family, friends, and readers. He was the author of several acclaimed collections, including Calling Home (2002) and Dark Woods (2018), as well as plays and essays. In a tribute published this week, Biblioasis reports that he completed his final collection of poems, Way To Go, just this month.

In 2020, Véhicule published a chapbook of his, Fathers At Hockey. Featured among the 19 poems included there were “First Ice,” “Misconduct,” “Leaf Talk,” and “Holy Mackinaw,” as well as the lines, above, of “Last Game.”  

tommy woodcock, 1933—2022

Sorry to see news of the death earlier this week of Tommy Woodcock, the first trainer the St. Louis Blues ever had, and a veteran of the dressing rooms of the Hartford Whalers and San Jose Sharks. He was 89.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Woodcock grew up as the son of the manager of the local Arena, and he got his first job there in the 1940s when, as a 12-year-old, he served as (in his words) “a squeegee boy, helping brush the excess water off the rink after it had been flooded.” On his skates, he played centre and right wing, and scored some goals in the 1950s on New England senior amateur ice and, briefly, in the Eastern Hockey League.

As the story goes, Buddy LeRoux, trainer of Boston’s Celtics and Red Sox, was the one to suggest he take up as a trainer. Woodcock started out tending college teams at Brown, in Providence, and worked with the AHL Providence Reds, as well as with local baseball and football teams before GM Lynn Patrick hired him in 1967 to be the trainer for the expansion St. Louis Blues. With the Reds, he was a protégé of trainer George Army, a local legend who maintained that he’d learned to stitch hockey wounds by slicing up oranges and then sewing them back together.

Woodcock was 34 when he started in St. Louis. For 16 years he tended the Blues, who vied their way (in vain) during that tenure through three Stanley Cup Finals. The times, they were simpler, back then, as Woodcock recalled for NHL.com in 2008: “The players did a lot. They carried their own bags. We never washed the underwear, we just hung it up to dry.”

Woodcock’s other duties, in his day, ran the regular gamut. He sharpened skates, maintained and modified equipment, stitched wounds, ministered to aches, pains, scuffs, concussings. He wielded tape — a lot of tape. For a cheerful newspaper profile in 1970, Woodcock estimated that the Blues’ annual roll-out of tape was some 212,000 yards for socks-securing and another 3,300 yards for sticks.

In 1973, Woodcock organized his expertise into a book.

In 1979, around the occasion of his 1,000th NHL game, Woodcock testified that Bernie Federko was the most talented player he’d had under his care, while original Blues’ captain Al Arbour rated the highest pain tolerance of any of his charges. Garry Unger, meanwhile, had “the best set of muscle structure” in Blues’ history. “That’s why,” Woodcock said, “he never has any pulled or strained muscles.”

“Arbour was typical of some of the old-timers,” Woodcock waxed in ’79, “he was totally dedicated to the game.” The biggest change he’d seen in his time in big-league hockey? “The young guys coming into the league now aren’t dedicated. They aren’t willing to work to improve themselves. If they’re not doing well, they’ll blame their stick or a part of their equipment — but never blame themselves or try to work harder.”

One then-current Blue was excused from this indictment: Brian Sutter. “He’s the last of the real dedicated hockey players,” Woodcock said.

In 1983, Woodcock followed former Blues’ GM Emile Francis to the Hartford Whalers. In 1991, GM Jack Ferreira hired him to be the first trainer for the expansion San Jose Sharks. He would continue to work as a consultant with the Sharks well into his 70s and in so doing, in 2008 attended his 40th NHL training camp. All told, he presided over more than 3,000 NHL games, regular-season and playoff.

In 1973, Woodcock became the first NHL trainer to organize his experience and expertise into a book when he published Hockey From The Ice Up, a helpful how-to aimed at aspiring young players, their parents, and coaches. It counselled on equipment and pregame meals, ran down conditioning best practices, delineated hockey injuries (from butterflies to tongue-swallowing), and identified some key dos and don’ts for those hoping to succeed in hockey (stay away from alcohol and solvent-sniffing).

In 2003, Woodcock was inducted into the Hall of Fame that the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society curates under the auspices of the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Lefty Wilson, Skip Thayer, and Eddy Palchak in the pantheon.

 

jean-guy gendron, 1934—2022

Hats Off: A 25-year-old Jean-Guy Gendron shows a smile after scoring his first NHL hattrick on February 1, 1959, at the Boston Garden as his Bruins dismissed the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 6-4. “First time this year anyone take my picture,” he said afterwards, wearing his hat and showing off the puck with which he scored his third goal. That one went into an empty net; the first two he put past Johnny Bower.

Sorry to be hearing of the death last week, on June 30, of Jean-Guy Gendron at the age of 87. Born in Montreal, he made his NHL debut as a left winger for the New York Rangers in 1955. He subsequently played for the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens (just a single game), and Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he posted his best numbers, in 1968-69, when he scored 20 goals and 65 points. Gendron played a couple of seasons, too, in the WHA for the Quebec Nordiques. He coached the Nords, too, in the mid-1970s, steering them to the Avco Cup finals in his first year, 1974-75, where they lost to the Houston Aeros.

 

 

jim pappin, 1939—2022

From the Toronto Maple Leafs, the hard news today that Jim Pappin has died at the age of 82: condolences from here to his family and friends. Born in Sudbury, Ontario, on Sunday, September 10, 1939, Pappin made his debut as an NHL right winger in 1963 when he joined Punch Imlach’s Leaf roster in the wake of their second successive Stanley Cup championship. He won his first championship with the leafs in 1964. In 1967, Pappin not only scored the Cup-winning goal against Montreal in Game Six of the Finals, he led the league in playoff scoring. After five Leaf seasons, he went to Chicago in the trade that brought Pierre Pilote to Toronto. Pappin played in seven seasons for the Black Hawks, with whom he had his best scoring season, in 1972-73, when he notched 41 goals and 92 points. He saw action, too, with California’s Seals and the Barons of Cleveland.

april 16, 1949: last call

Salut: Filling the Stanley Cup at Maple Leaf Gardens in April of 1949, that’s Toronto Maple Leafs PR manager Spiff Evans. Steered by coach Hap Day (right), the Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings in four games that spring to earn their champagne. (Image: City of Toronto Archives, fonds 1266, item 132800)

george the first

Here’s George Hainsworth in all his ratty glory at some point during the 1929-30 NHL season, by the end of which he and his Montreal Canadiens had commandeered the Stanley Cup. Born in Toronto on this date in 1893 — it was a Monday, then — Hainsworth and the Habs defended their championship the following season. He had, of course, taken up the Montreal net in 1926, following  Georges  Vézina’s tragic death, whereupon he claimed the first three editions of the trophy that was instituted in Vézina’s name to recognize the NHL’s outstanding goaltender. In 1928-29, Hainsworth set a record (it still stands) for most shutouts in a season, posting a remarkable 22 in 44 regular-season games for the Canadiens. Another season of his ranks sixth on that same list: in 1926-27, Hainsworth kept a clean sheet in 14 of 44 regular-season games.

cougartown

Out In The Open: Reg Noble was born on a Tuesday of this same date in Collingwood, Ontario; 1896 was the year. He won a Stanley Cup championship with Toronto in the NHL’s very first season, 1917-18, and he went on to captain and coach the team — and win another Cup — after they shifted into the Toronto St. Patricks. Noble won a third championship in 1926 with the Montreal Maroons. He went on to play for all three incarnations of Detroit’s NHL team, Falcons, Cougars (as in the photo here, from 1927-28), and Red Wings, before wrapping up his major-league career with another turn as a Maroon in 1932-33. Reg Noble was inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame in 1962.

 

the port perry woodpecker

Chin Up: Born in Port Perry, Ontario, on a Saturday of today’s date in 1900, John Ross Roach led the Toronto St. Patricks to a Stanley Cup championship in his rookie season, 1921-22. He played seven seasons in Toronto in all, captaining the team along the way, and lasting long enough to see the St. Pats transform into Maple Leafs in 1927. Roach played for the New York Rangers after that, and then went to Detroit in 1932, as the Falcons were turning into the Red Wings. He stayed on in Detroit after finishing his NHL career in 1935, going to work as a car salesman for Ford.

double stack

Denial: Is it just me or does this look like a disappointed Red Berenson trying and failing to breach the defences of a sprawled Gump Worsley? Artist Duncan Macpherson was content to call this 1965 drawing, rendered in crayon, wash, and graphite, “Hockey Players,” and leave it at that. © McCord Museum