Saddened to hear of Tony Esposito’s death today at the age of 78; the Chicago Blackhawks announced the news, here, this afternoon.
Hall-of-Fame defenceman Herb Gardiner arrived in the NHL as a 35-year-old in 1926, joining the Montreal Canadiens after a sterling run with the Calgary Tigers of the old WCHL/WHL. Born in Winnipeg on a Tuesday of this date in 1891, Gardiner made an immediate impact, winning the Hart Trophy that year as the NHL’s MVP. That puts him in august company: he and Wayne Gretzky are the only players in NHL history to secure the Hart in their first year in the league. Gardiner played parts of three seasons with Montreal, and had a short (if not too successful) stint as the playing-coach of the Chicago Black Hawks.
Sad to see the news this morning that Bob Nevin has died at the age of 82. Born in 1938 in South Porcupine, Ontario, Nevin made his NHL debut in 1960 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. A right winger, he finished second in voting for the league’s top rookie, trailing teammate Dave Keon when the ballots for the Calder Trophy were tallied. Nevin won a pair of Stanley Cups with Toronto, in 1962 and ’63. In early 1964, a trade took him to New York when the Leafs swapped him (along with Rod Seiling, Arnie Brown, Dick Duff, and Bill Collins) for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney. He succeeded Camille Henry as captain of the Rangers in 1965, serving six years in the role before another trade sent him to the Minnesota North Stars. Nevin went on to skate for the Los Angeles Kings and spent a final year, 1976-77, with the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers.
How to solve a problem like the Ottawa Senators? A hundred years ago, as the NHL headed into its third season, a helpful fan of the city’s original Sens thought he’d share his blueprint by way of his local newspaper. The he is a guess, based on this is 1919 we’re talking about and, also, because men.
Some notes for the margins: the league was a four-team affair that year, with a 24-game schedule that faced-off late in December. Pete Green was Ottawa’s new coach for 1919-20, insofar as this was his first season steering in the team in the young league: in the team’s pre-NHL days, he’d been involved with seven Stanley Cup-winning teams as trainer and coach going back to 1903.
Jack Darragh, a winger who’d end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame, had been playing for Ottawa since 1910, but now, at 29, he was negotiating a new contract by talking about retiring. He signed just before the season got underway. Darragh, who played all but one game that season, at home and away, finished fifth in NHL scoring.
The Senators were in the market for another defenceman: by mid-December, Coach Green was looking to add a man on the line to aid captain Eddie Gerard and Sprague Cleghorn. He didn’t, in the end, electing to move a forward back to help out, Georges Boucher.
I can’t speak to the state of the roof at Dey’s Arena, which stood on what is today Laurier Avenue on the site of Confederation Park. I can report that in April of 1920, the Senators did win their first NHL Stanley Cup beneath it, defeating the PCHL’s Seattle Metropolitans in five games. Jack Darragh decided it in the last of those: his game-winning goal was one of three he scored in a 6-1 Senators’ romp. I don’t have good information on whether or not his pants had been recently laundered.
The fundraising effort to support the victims and families of those involved in Friday’s crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus with a semi-trailer truck in Saskatchewan continues. You can find it, and donate, here:
A vigil is planned for tonight at Humboldt’s Elgar Petersen Arena. Fourteen people were injured in the accident. Players and coaches; a broadcaster; a busdriver; a statistician, the 15 who died are:
This week in 1967, Toronto’s aged Leafs beat the Chicago Black Hawks to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for a showdown with the Montreal Canadiens. Chicago coach Billy Reay wasn’t happy in defeat, but he summoned up some grudging grace. “I’m a little one-sided,” he said, “so I think the best team lost. But Sawchuk stoned us and they outplayed us up the centre. I thought Davey Keon played terrific — on his regular shifts, killing penalties, and on the power play.”
Terry Sawchuk, pictured here in January of that last Leafly championship year, was 37. “He was,” the estimable Trent Frayne would recall, “the most acrobatic goaltender of his time. He didn’t move so much as he exploded into a desperate release of energy — down the glove, up the arm, over the stick, up the leg pad. He sometimes seemed a human pinwheel. He played the whole game in pent-up tension, shouting at his teammates, crouching, straightening, diving, scrambling, his pale face drawn and tense.”
(Image: Frank Prazak, Library and Archives Canada)
Don Cherry tweeted an emergency public health warning one afternoon from flu-ridden Toronto: “If symptoms present themselves, do others a favour, stay home and avoid spreading the bug.”
In an e-mail to Adrian Dater of The Denver Post, Ryan O’Reilly’s dad said, “Ryan is not a superstar based on skill but character. I know this for a fact the player he was yesterday will not be the player he was tomorrow he will continue to grow learn and thrive. The world values it less and less, yet everyone is looking for those players that eat sleep and drink the game and are unselfish plus compete because they are intrinsically motivated for excellence. This is another trait humankind is slowly losing!”
Something else he said, Brian O’Reilly, a life coach, was this: “Character, compete level, dedication, the love of the game, is what are the building blocks for dynasties. That is a long-term picture but it has to be always the short-term value. Character has to win out over skill that is why it takes a lot of skilled players a lot of losses to understand the character element of the game.”
Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson talked about Matt Cooke from Pittsburgh, the guy who cut his Achilles tendon with an ill-placed skate: “I received a text, didn’t think too much of it. Didn’t reply. Don’t think that we have anything to say to each other.”
Sorry: Mr. O’Reilly wasn’t quite finished. “Quality of character is really hard to describe but you recognize it instantly in someone’s behavior,” he said. “Each one of us has to decide the value of their own character and the character of others by how they treat you.
“It’s as simple as that! The Colorado Avalanche I believe have treated Ryan fairly. He had three wonderful years with them. Where we go from here will be a matter of character.”
Is it possible to mutter on Twitter? @Ryan_OReilly90 definitely seemed to be muttering when he found out what his dad had done, tweeting: “I had no idea of my dads letter to the Denver post. It’s tough situation I apologize to anyone bothered by this. Hopefully its over soon.”
On Sunday, like everybody else, hockey watched the Oscars.
“Daniel Day Lewis just killing this acceptance speech,” Edmonton’s Sam Gagner tweeted.
Montreal winger Brandon Prust: “Quentin Tarantino is a beauty lol”
“Argo cleaning up,” Gagner updated. “Very well deserved. Great flick.” Continue reading
“Toronto’s MVP is Lupul: Most Valuable Palindrome.”
∂ James Duthie, TSN, October 20, 2011