wheelman

Hockey57-neg

Ted Green wasn’t much for the pre-season. “I never liked exhibition games,” the long-serving Boston defenceman wrote (with Al Hirshberg’s help) in a 1971 memoir, High Stick, “because of the chances of getting hurt before the regular season started.” As for shaping himself up for the long campaign ahead, he took care of that on his own time in the summer — late in August of 1968, for example, above, just ahead of his ninth year on the Bruins’ blueline.

“I kept myself in condition during the off-season at my home in St. Boniface, just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba,” he wrote. “The only reason I cared about training at all after I made the club was to get into skating shape, which never took more than a few weeks.

It was a year later, September 21, 1969 in Ottawa, that Green got into a grievous stick fight with Wayne Maki during an exhibition game with the St. Louis Blues. When it was over, Green went to hospital with a life-threatening compound skull fracture. After three brain surgeries and a year’s gruelling recovery, Green spent the summer of 1970 facing the law and his hockey future. Ottawa Police had charged both players with assault causing bodily harm, though after Maki was tried and acquitted, Green’s charge was reduced to common assault, of which he, too, was cleared.

Back in Boston, he went to work with a personal trainer, a Hungarian who’d trained Olympic boxers, and a new regime: “running on a treadmill, operating wall pulleys, riding a stationary bicycle, doing deep knee bends, push-ups, high kicks, chin-ups, arm stretching, tossing the medicine ball, forward and backward somersaults, 60-yard sprints, and working on a devilish contraption called the Swedish wall ladder.”

Training camp was in London, Ontario, that September. “I went,” Green wrote later, “not knowing if I could play hockey again or not.” He could: helmeted, now, he played another two seasons for the Bruins before jumping to the WHA, where he skated a further eight.

(Photo used with the permission of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Winnipeg Tribune fonds, PC 18-3786-001neg)

the peddler

Biker Bouchard, post-1941.

The story of Butch Bouchard’s famous bike ride is well and firmly rooted, we’ve learned in the weeks following his death on April 14, even if it’s still not true. It’s the one (to review) where the prospective defenceman got on his bike in Montreal one day in October of 1941 and cycled all the way to the Canadiens’ training camp in Sainte-Hyacinthe.

An inspiring tale, repeated hither and thither ever since coach Dick Irvin made the whole thing up.

Bouchard himself admitted as much in 1956, noting how happy he’d been to keep the story alive, just for the fun of it, to the extent that he’d added texture as the years went on, describing the punctures he’d had to fix along the route.

None of which has kept the legend from growing, almost daily, it seems like, over the past few weeks. First there was The Washington Post’s obituary, which had Bouchard cycling there and back every day of camp. Other reports had the distance pedalled as anywhere from 30 to 50 kilometres. As posted on CBC.ca, The Canadian Press, meanwhile, has done even better, claiming an 80-kilometre trip, which would have taken him well on his way to Drummondville, far from the line-up he was trying to crack.