“Hockey, the outstanding game of the present winter in New York, is a combination of football, golf, soccer, prize-fighting, tong war, and the last riot at Herrin, Illinois.”
• The New York Sun, circa the early 1920s
“Hockey in no way suggests chess. … It is rapid-fire work, and most resembles the profession of journalism. Indeed, I know of no two thrills that are precisely more similar than that felt by the player or the spectator at a close game of ‘ice shinny’ and the thrill of reporting a river-front fire when a couple of ocean liners are blazing and a fraction of an acre is on fire with oil. I know from experience.”
• Arthur Huntington Gleason, 1905
“It’s no surprise that he comes back from concussions better than anyone else.”
• Mike Milbury on Sidney Crosby, November, 2011
“During my life in sports, I have seldom met a bad person who played goal. Anyone who is unbalanced, unreliable or hateful, no matter how talented, will never be able to unselfishly protect the goal. Take my word on that!”
• Vladislav Tretiak, The Art of Goaltending (1989)
“Patrons of hockey do not attend games that they may witness fist fights between the players; the game is the thing.”
• editorial in The Globe, December 13, 1933, on the day after Toronto’s Ace Bailey barely survived what the paper called a “rumpus” involving Boston’s Eddie Shore.
“He is a mere 5’11”, 185 pounds, with blue-gray eyes and a thick shock of hair that is browner than blond and blonder than brown and flops down over his forehead, producing a little-boy-lost effect that is deadly to the female. His legs are muscular, but not much more than Carol Channing’s. His arms are of normal length and look strong, but not strikingly so. His hands remind one of an e. e. cummings line: “nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.” His shoulders are squared, but not with the slablike precision of Bobby Hull’s. His overall physique is adequate but not impressive; he will never gain employment as a male model or appear covered with salad oil in today’s versions of Sunshine and Health.”
• Jack Olsen, writing in Sports Illustrated to declare Bobby Orr as the magazine’s Sportsman Of The Year, December 21, 1970.
“The most important thing to remember about skating is how important it is.”
• Gordie Howe
“You’ve probably had lectures about smoking. I’ll make mine short. Very early my coach told me that it wouldn’t do me any good to smoke cigarettes so I never tried them. It was as simple as that. So I can’t say how smoking might have affected me. All I know is that when I see a boy smoking, I know that he’s either a little shot trying to be a big shot or he’s gone over to the social side and really doesn’t want to be a hockey player, and that’s all we shall say about that.”
• Gordie Howe
“Most goaltenders are beer drinkers.”
• Gump Worsley
“A priest once told me something that I’ve never forgotten. He said you can have any two of the following three things — hockey, social life, and education.”
• Gordie Howe, 1963
“Personally, I love NASCAR about as much as I do hockey. The only thing that would get me to watch a car race on TV would be if they ran over a hockey player every couple of laps.
• Roy Blount Jr.
“My father puts religion before hockey. With me, it’s the other way around. Naturally I want God on my side because He has the power to deliver talent or take it away. And being a good Christian is the best way to help my own performance in hockey. Quite possibly this is sinful reasoning. But before games today, I still find myself telling God that if we win I’ll become a better Christian. Then later, when we have won and I go out for a beer with the team, I’ll say, ‘If you’re up there, please don’t strike me down.’ Whether I’m a hypocrite or just human, I’m convinced that if God has been listening to me all this time, He’s thinking, ‘Well, to Hell with this guy.’ And so, whenever we lose a game, I’m sure it’s some form of punishment.”
• Keith Magnuson, None Against (1973)
“He made me wear a puck around my neck because, playing defense, I had looked down at the puck and not at the forward’s chest. Cardinal sin! Oh, we hated him … we used to drink to forget.”
• Don Cherry on Eddie Shore
“When I was a kid they had a saying: no matter where you were in the world, you could find a Swedish match, an English sailor, a German whore, and a hockey player from Winnipeg.”
• Babe Pratt in Stan Fischler’s Those Were The Days (1976)
“People flocked to the house. They wanted autographs or pictures and some just stared at me. Some kids said they walked three miles to get there. What could I do? Run them off my property?”
• Five months on from Moscow, Paul Henderson on the price of scoring the goal that defeated the Soviets, Action Sports Hockey, February, 1974
“Violence is just not in my temperament. For me it never has been a sensible way to settle anything. Even when I was a kid I never got into fights at school like everybody else. It just seemed silly to me.”
• Jean Béliveau, 1971
“Our biggest stars continue to be wounded in the brain by the game. The game needs to change. We really need a big change in the game if we’re going to preserve the game.”
• Toronto neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, 16 April, 2012
“We really have to look at this. I don’t know if we’ll find anything, but if it’s there, it’s critical that we find it.”
• Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson after Canada falls out of the IIHF World Championships, losing 4-3 to Slovakia in the quarter-finals, May 17, 2012.
“There were definitely a lot of fans waiting when we came back. I heard rough estimates of around 4,000 people. It was like driving down a hallway lined with human flesh, or people I guess you could say, because you couldn’t see anything but people screaming and Kings jerseys. It’s something that not anyone will forget ever, I think, on the Kings side who was a part of it. It’s one of those things you only get to experience when you make it to the Finals.’’
• Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner on the reception the Kings received at the L.A. airport on their return, victorious, from Phoenix after eliminating the Coyotes, May 22, 2012.
“Clarkie reminds me a lot of Jean Béliveau when he was Montreal’s captain. Both are very quiet, but they are great leaders. Clarkie’s judgment is amazing.”
• Philadelphia goaltender Bernie Parent on Bobby Clarke in his 1975 memoir Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
“When I was in grade four, teachers stopped classes and wheeled TV sets into the gym so that we could watch the final games of the 1972 Summit Series. It was big. It was ours. Years later, the Americans ingeniously manufactured their own transcendent hockey moment. During the 1980 Winter Olympics, a U.S. squad of amateurs and college kids shocked the sports world by upsetting a state-of-the-art Soviet team 4 to 3 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory. The win was dubbed the ‘Miracle On Ice.’ It shouldn’t have happened — there should have been tariffs or quotas in place to safeguard our ritualistic, soul-stirring hockey triumphs over Russia. Worse still, Disney’s feature film Miracle, starring Kurt Russell, grossed about $65 million worldwide. So it’s not like the Americans were content to simply take our thing. No, they took our thing, packaged it in red, white, and blue, and then went out and sold it globally. To think of manifest destiny as a military policy is to miss the point.”
• William Morassutti in his introduction to Imagining Canada (Doubleday, 2012), a collection of photographs of Canada and Canadians from the archives of The New York Times.
“Anyone who wants to know what life as an NHL players is like should simply review my medical records. I’ve received 600 stitches in my face, broken all of my fingers, had my shoulder rebuilt, suffered two knee injuries, broken my jaw once in four places and another time in 21 places. Then there is the matter of 13 documented concussions and probably 10 to 20 others that were not diagnosed.”
• Jeremy Roenick (with Kevin Allen) in J.R. The Fast, Crazy Life of Hockey’s Most Outspoken & Most Colourful Personality (HarperCollins, 2012)
“When I decided to play the game, I had to acknowledge that the risk of injury was acceptable to me. You can’t play the game and enjoy all the benefits from it, and then rip the game because you get hurt. You can’t have it both ways. I think most players accept that premise.
“But the press can’t really understand it. They say the sport is too violent. People who want fighting out of the game can’t understand it. People who want hitting out of the game, who want to make it into a non-contact sport where no one gets hurt, can’t understand it. Those people also believe in Peter Pan.”
• Barry Melrose (with Roger Vaughan), Dropping The Gloves (Fenn/McClelland & Stewart, 2012)
“I know nothing about sports, but I admire hockey as the mixed martial arts of curling ….”
• John Hodgman in The New York Times Magazine, February 10, 2013
“We’d completely underestimated the Russians. I realized right off that their individual skills were better than most of the NHL players. They could flip the puck in the air the way most NHL players do now, but at the time, no one could do that. On an icing, they’d just flip it to the linesman. I’d never seen anyone do that before.”
• Dennis Hull on the shock of the new in September of 1972, from The Third Best Hull (1998), the autobiography he wrote with Robert Thompson.
“A girl from almost any other country in the world might have cracked under the strain of being married to a goaltender. But Arlene was a Canadian.”
• Tom Cohen in his authorized biography, Roger Crozier: Daredevil Goalie (1967)
“Goal tenders have been getting smarter each year.”
• Howie Morenz, 1935
“You know, you look at these two teams and there’s no question that they really respect each other. I don’t think anybody would doubt that. But underlying that respect, there’s no question, there is deep hatred between these two teams.”
• Hockey Night in Canada‘s Kelly Hrudey on the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues, May 2, 2013
“If they must get hurt hockey players would rather be cut up than be bothered with broken bones, ankle twists or muscle strains. A few stitches here and there and they are able to get back into action, but otherwise it is a hospital cot or a temporary crutch that keeps them chafing in idleness.”
• Frank Boucher, coach of the New York Rangers, 1942
“We’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be. Either anything goes and we accept the consequences or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”
• Steve Yzerman, GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, October 1, 2013
“Not only did your team reveal outstanding skill but they also earned the applause of the world for their sportsmanlike behaviour and bearing at all times. Indicative of the regard of many for this fine group of Russians was the fact that, when in high spirits a couple of youngsters here burned an effigy right after the match, indignation was aroused both in Whitby and in places across Canada at the suggestion that this was meant to represent Russian player or players. We have, in fact, received numerous complaints from those who mistook this exuberant prank of misguided youngsters for dislike of your very fine and sporting team. Please be assured that all of us have the highest regard and admiration for your fellows whose play and behaviour was truly exemplary …”
• Excerpt from a letter from Whitby, Ontario mayor Harry W. Jermyn to the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Ottawa sent on March 11, 1958, two days after his hometown Dunlops beat the USSR 4-2 to win the World Championships in Oslo, Norway
“We played indoors at the Palais de Glace, a rink that wasn’t full-sized by our standards but was big enough. Unfortunately, the boards weren’t really boards but rather wood panellings of a delicate nature and sometimes when we’d bounce a hard carom off them we’d smash them to smithereens.”
• Frank Frederickson of the Winnipeg Falcons, who won gold on Canada’s behalf at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, as told to Stan Fischler
“Coaches of losing clubs can’t digest their food properly and their mood is usually dark. One-goal defeats night after night drive them up the walls, which is where I figuratively spent most of my time during my two-and-a-half years with the Hawks.”
• Charlie Conacher, with Trent Frayne, in Maclean’s, April 27, 1957
“A grapefruit from the grays hit my camera and knocked it spinning.”
• Toronto Daily Star correspondent Frank Teskey reporting from Montreal’s Forum on the Rocket-riotous night of Thursday, 17 March, 1955.
“There is an $100 fine supposed to be levied on any manager going onto the ice, and we certainly hope that Pres. Frank Calder, who was in the crowd, plasters this impost on Col. Smythe for first firing his hat at Referee Mickey Ion and then vaulting the boards and walking right out to the middle of the play four minutes along in the second session. … Although Smythe won his point by drawing a five-minute penalty on Jack Crawford for causing a head injury to Pete Langelle, Connie’s act came close to turning this series which up until now has been fought on a clean-cut basis into a hippodrome. … To Ion should go the credit for preventing a burlesque, for the veteran referee held his head when, on the suggestion of Manager Art Ross of the Bruins, he skated over to the Toronto bench and ordered Smythe to move back to the second row under another league rule which forbids more than one coach on the players’ bench. … The Toronto maestro actually shoved Ion backwards several times during the interview, and appeared on the verge of unleashing a couple of punches when linesman Donnie McFayden and Capt. Syl Apps of the Leafs intervened.”
• Gerry Moore, reporting in The Daily Boston Globe, on April 4, 1941, after the Bruins’ game-seven 2-1 win over the Leafs put them into the Stanley Cup Finals. They won there, too, beating Detroit in four consecutive games.
“It was tough. I can’t watch hockey. I don’t know how you guys do it.”
• Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook to reporters after the Blackhawks’ series-clinching win over St. Louis on Sunday, April 27. Seabrook returned to the ice having served a three-game suspension for a hit to David Backes’ head.
“The game moved along swiftly, and the continuous action and numerous scrimmages moved the onlookers to high excitement. One scrimmage at the west end of the rink was so wild in the second period that three spectators tumbled onto the ice and crushed three perfectly good derby hats.”
• “Ottawa Hockey Club Downs Wanderers,” The New York Times, March 21, 1911
“We hereby accuse Habs’ coach Dick Irvin of having lost his flair for showmanship. Here he has a goalie name of Jacques Plante, who has replaced little Gerry McNeil, who got battered up in Toronto. Jacques is an unusual kid who knits multi-colored toques and wears them while he’s playing hockey. Irvin wouldn’t allow him to wear the noggin-piece against Rangers. Irvin’s argument was that Jacques gets his toque knocked off during a game and is more concerned about retrieving it than he is about getting the puck.”
• Toronto Daily Star, November 3, 1952
Montreal, March 1 — A member of the Shamrock Hockey Club, who recently had been sent out to make arrangements for the tour of the two Canadian teams, attended a hockey match in the States, in the course of which Malcolm Chase was hit on the lip. The Montrealer’s description of the efforts made to stop the bleeding and the tender care given to the slightly wounded player created considerable amusement among the veterans of the game here. This shows at once a great point of difference, not so much between the two ways of playing the game as between the kind of people who play it on the two sides of the line. Here, though the game is perfectly and purely amateur, hockey is taken more in the way of serious labor than a light recreation, and no man would think of stopping a match because he had received a cut on the head or in the face for a longer time than would be necessary to put a plaster on the cut or tie a cloth around it, and no attempt would be made to really administer seriously to the wound till half time or the finish of the game.
As in a great many other things, Canadians perhaps take their games too seriously, but no hockey player considered worthy of the name here would think of laying off unless he were indeed hurt so seriously that the result of his injuries might jeopardize the success of his team. And serious injuries are very frequent, but at the same time very few instances are on record in which players have been permanently disabled for play as a result of these.
• “Canada’s Hockey Players” in The New York Times, March 2, 1896
“I was shocked by how impressed I was at how impressive it was.”
• Mike Babcock talking to TSN’s Gino Reda on May 21, 2015, the day he signed his eight-year, $US50-million deal to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs, about GM Brendan Shanahan’s opening contract offer.
“We believe in symbols, we humans. And the Cup is a symbol not only of success, but of shared emotion and struggle, even heartbreak and beauty, and then, finally, unity. It is the only championship trophy that is supposed to be touched and sat in and drunk out of by common folk. Even though the keeper of the Cup wears white gloves when handling the thing, the Cup has been dinged on mountain tops and dropped in frenzied saloons and hoisted into ceilings that were unexpectedly low. If the Cup gets damaged, no problem. It gets fixed. It’s like the pelt of the elusive unicorn, brought home in turn by each mythical hunter so his villagers can feel at one with it.
• Rick Telander, “Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are Chicago Legends,” in The Chicago Sun-Times, June 18, 2015