the nokomis dandy
canada’s captain clutch
Marie-Philip Poulin is the winner of the Northern Star Award as Canada’s top athlete, so here’s a sustained flourish of a Bauer Vapor 1X Composite stick to her. The 31-year-old forward, who hails from Beauceville, Quebec, captained Canada to golden finishes this year at both the World Championships in Denmark and the Olympics in China.
The Northern Star is the former Lou Marsh Trophy, of course; the name change happened in November. Poulin is the tenth hockey player to win the award since its inception in 1936, and the first woman among those. She joins an august company: since Maurice Richard won it in 1957, the others have been Bobby Orr (’72), Phil Esposito (’70), Bobby Clarke (’75), Guy Lafleur (’77), Wayne Gretzky (’82, ’83, ’85, ’89), Mario Lemieux (’93), Sidney Crosby (’07, ’09), and Carey Price (’15).
börje salming, 1951—2022
Shocked and very saddened at the news that Börje Salming has died at the age of 71. The Toronto Maple Leafs shared a statement this hour: it’s here.
(Top image: Fonds La Presse, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)
the qu’appelle kid (or thereabouts)
There’s not a whole lot on the written record detailing Eddie Shore’s earliest days in Saskatchewan. In his 2010 Shore biography, Michael Hiam gets him born on page nine and, by the end of the paragraph, he’s five years old, milking cows in a cold barn. We do know that Boston’s stormiest Hall-of-Fame defenceman and (ahem) former captain made his earthly debut on this date in 1902, a Sunday, and the farm was his father’s, northeast of Regina, in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Later, the family moved up to Cupar, a distance of about 50 kilometres.
Well … that’s what we think we know. The hockey executive and writer Jim Hendy told the story of taking a commission during Shore’s playing days to write a magazine profile of the man they called Old Blood and Guts. “I never give interviews,” is what Shore told him when he applied to talk to his prospective subject. Okay, Hendy said, fine. I can go ahead without your help. “Just tell me one thing: were you born in Fort Qu’Appelle or Cupar, Saskatchewan?” Neither, Shore replied. “I was born in a cart between the two of them.”
with a little puck
Born in Liverpool in England on a Thursday of this date in 1942, hockey artist Sir Paul McCartney is 80 today, so raise high your Höfner bass and give it a flourish in his direction. McCartney’s hockey output was limited, it should be said, and indeed may not extend beyond these two illustrations. Originally from a sketchbook of McCartney’s, they were executed in pencil, ink, and air-brush on the front and back of a single sheet of paper, in or around 1957, when as a 15-year-old pre-Beatle he was a student at the Liverpool Institute High School For Boys. They sold at auction in California in 2019 for US$8,960.
y’a rien pour m’arrêter
“It’s what I wanted to do,” Guy Lafleur was saying in 1979 as his first LP made its way to market. Montreal’s Canadiens were coming off their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup championship that fall, so what better time, really, for their superstar winger to be releasing his debut disco/instructional album?
“It was a lot of fun to make,” said Lafleur, who was 28 that year. Lafleur! came in French and English versions, with six tracks on each, featuring the man himself offering rudimentary tips to a pulsing background laid down by the Montreal trio Toulouse. Or as Mike Rutsey, a Canadian Press writer put it:
Lafleur, whose vaunted slapshot will from now on ring to the chorus of shaboom, shaboom, has boiled the game he loves into four key ingredients — skating, checking, shooting, and scoring — and packaged it to the shuffa-shuffa disco beat.
“You can listen to it, enjoy it, and exercise,” Lafleur himself touted, “and everything on the record goes well with the music. The music is the big thing. It’s different and it’s a new method of teaching kids how to play hockey.”
I’ll take the French track-titles over the English: give me “Vas-Y” and “Y’a Rien Pour M’Arrêter,” you can keep “Face-Off” and “Power Play.” You can sample the whole (French) shuffa-shuffa for yourself here.
The vinyl was only part of the package: also included was an instructional booklet and a poster featuring a handsome, half-dressed Lafleur. For all that, pre-Christmas sales may not have been been quite what the hockey player and his people were hoping for. According to a Gazette column from November of ’79, a prominent Montreal record store reported that the 50 to 75 copies of Lafleur! that had been snapped up in the early days of its release had it lagging behind Bob Dylan’s latest (non-disco and only semi-instructional) offering, Slow Train Coming, which was selling by the thousands.
ecris 4 lignes de ton impression quand tu as vu guy lafleur
the dawn-defying whoopee
A birthday today for Lester Patrick, legendary rushing defenceman (and stopgap goaltender), hockey innovator, and architect of the New York Rangers, born in Drummondville, Quebec, on a Monday of this date in 1883. Here he is, with headgear, at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto in April of 1940, when his Rangers seized the (detachable) Stanley Cup from the Maple Leafs in six games. Patrick was 56 that year, and just GM, having handed over coaching duties that year to Frank Boucher after 13 seasons on the bench. This was the sixth Cup of Patrick’s illustrious career. It was the Rangers’ third championship; they wouldn’t win a fourth (as New York fans might remember) until 1994. Cavorting with Patrick are Rangers (from left) Bryan Hextall and Neil Colville.
“Pandemonium reigned in the Ranger dressing room,” a CP dispatch noted of events at Maple Leaf Gardens before the party moved over to the Royal York, “as [Toronto] manager Conn Smythe and members of the Leaf team congratulated the New York players. In their own quarters, the Leafs proved good losers and many of them later joined the Rangers in the dawn-defying whoopee.”