this week: ungie showed me how to do it

Iphone photo | Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montréal. | Painting from Serge Lemoyne «Ken Dryden» | www.misspixels.com | ©MissPixels.com Follow me on Twitter @misspixels

Facing The Shooter: A visitor eyes painter Serge Lemoyne’s “Ken Dryden” at Montreal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts. (Photo: http://www.misspixels.com/ @misspixels)

The Rangers’ coach, Alain Vigneault, sent a message this week to his scoreless forwards, according to Larry Brooks of The New York Post, and it was this: score.

“This is a big deal,” said Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper, and for a moment was it possible to believe that he was talking about his forthcoming hockey book? It was, but he wasn’t: he was in Belgium, touting a trade agreement with the European Union.

Allan Stanley died today, the Hall of Fame defenceman who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win four Stanley Cups in the 1960s. He was 87. In Timmins, where he was born, his dad was the fire chief. He played for the Holman Pluggers there. His uncle was another Hall-of-Famer, Barney Stanley, and he was the one (says Kevin Shea, from the Hall of Hockey Fame) to tell young Allan that hockey players drink tea with honey between periods, so that’s what he did. Allan was supposed to be on a plane in 1951 with another Timmins defenceman, Bill Barilko, but he stayed home instead.

One of his nicknames when he played in New York for the Rangers was “Snowshoes;” another was Sonja, “as in Sonja Henie, the figure skater.” That’s what one fan remembered, later: the treatment Stanley got from the hometown fans was “heartbreaking.”

“They booed Stanley when he was on the ice and soon they began booing him even when he was sitting on the bench,” Paul Gardella wrote in 1981, the year Stanley ascended to the hall of hockey fame. “In desperation, the Ranger coach, Frank Boucher, decided to play him only in away games, but that only made matters worse.”

Newspapers called him this solid citizen in 1953, not to mention the husky 27-year-old and large, resolute and unmarried. He was the superbly conditioned big fellow (1966) and the quintessence of the NHL defensive defenceman (1996). He was a prospector in the off-season; in 1964, he had 36 claims nearby Timmins.

(Courtesy hockeymedia at www.flickr.com

Allan Stanley (Courtesy hockeymedia at http://www.flickr.com)

He went after the federal Progressive Conservative nomination in Timmins when he was 31 and playing in Boston, but the principal of the Schumacher Public School beat him to that, so he kept on with the hockey. He was a key piece of the Maple Leaf team that won the ’67 Cup, partnering for much of the year with Tim Horton. He played one more year after that, in Philadelphia, before retiring at the age of 43.

Meanwhile: Pavel Datsyuk can thread a needle in the dark, said an enthusiastic Detroit TV commentator.

And a reporter, this week, from The National Post paid a visit to The Blue Goose Tavern in Toronto, which is where Toronto’s Dave Bolland goes whenever he wins a Stanley Cup. Twice he’s done that. His parents live nearby, and his friends drink there. Some of them said it’s not “Dave,” it’s “David;” also his NHL nickname is verboten. “I think if you called him The Rat here,” said a waitress, “you’d definitely get punched in the head.” Continue reading

sorrier still

113 Days Later: Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft’s “The Martyrdom of St. Donald” (2006), which doesn't purport to depict the state of the NHL after its third Bettman-era lockout, but could. For more of Thorneycroft's scintillant northern visions, visit dianathorneycroft.com.

113 Days Later: Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft’s “The Martyrdom of St. Donald” (2006), which doesn’t purport to depict the state of the NHL after its third Bettman-era lockout, but could. For more of Thorneycroft’s scintillant northern visions, visit dianathorneycroft.com.

So then the NHL did apologize, Wednesday afternoon, in the persons of Boston Bruins’ owner Jeremy Jacobs and commissioner Gary Bettman, in New York, once the owners had voted to ratify the new CBA. Jacobs, who chairs the league’s Board of Governors, said, “This great game has been gone for far too long, and for that we are truly sorry.”

When it was Bettman’s turn, he dug deep to find as personal a statement as might ever have left his lips in the 20 years he’s been manning the bridge at the NHL.

“To the players,” he said, “who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labor contracts; to our partners, who support the League financially and personally; and, most importantly, to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry,” Commissioner Bettman said. “I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.”

The early reviews of Bettman’s soliloquy were generally warm, -ish, especially if you compare them to what the critics were saying about him during the stoppage, with Detroit defenceman Ian White rating him “an idiot” and Kris Versteeg, from Florida, calling him cancerous. “I think when you look at Bill Daly and Bettman, they’ve been polluting the game for far too long,” Versteeg added. Chicago’s Dave Bolland Twittered out a fan’s wish for Bettman’s death — though he, Bolland, felt bad about that and apologized. Continue reading