here’s to you, mr. robinson

Ecce Homo: No occasion to mark here, birthday or anniversary: this 1979 portrait of Hall-of-Fame defenceman Larry Robinson hoisted up on a corn crib is an occasion unto itself. “Born and raised on a dairy farm in the Ottawa Valley,” the accompanying feature instructed readers, “Robinson embodies the strength and responsibility of rural morality. As Montreal’s ex-coach Scotty Bowman put it, ‘When there’s trouble or confusion, he seems to skate into the middle of things and take control just by being there.’” Writer Jay Teitel observed Robinson in all his 6’4’’, 225-pound glory in the off-season, joining him on the road to a softball game: “He’s frowning slightly out the window at the road, his features, especially his moustache, looming a bit larger than life, the way they do on my TV screen when the camera catches him in his haggard sentinel pose at the blue line. A U.S. Civil War general and Mark Twain are two of the images that come to mind.” (Image: Hauser/D’Orio, Weekend Magazine)

the bull and bill cook and the tractor that exploded

Further to Don Cherry’s faux history of hockey farm fatalities from May 22, we now know that:

• it wasn’t necessarily Bill Cook’s farm manager who drove the bull away after he’d gored the Ranger coach, as reported that day in May in 1952 in The Globe and Mail. According to The New York Times, it was Cook’s son Francis who went to his aid and rescued him from his attacker.

• Cook’s injuries included (The Toronto Daily Star) “a split shoulder blade and seven broken ribs.” The following fall, back behind the bench in New York, he was surprised that anyone was interested in his health. “Why,” he said, “I feel fine.”

• by the end of the year, Cook couldn’t wait for a new one. The Rangers were in last place as midnight struck on December 31 and 1953 dawned, having won just five of 34 games. The Rangers and their wives were celebrating that night at New York’s Belvedere Hotel, where a correspondent from The Globe caught up with him:

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he exulted. “They tried to kill me, they tried to burn me out, and the team is going lousy.” He was referring to the bull that attacked him on his farm outside Kingston, and to the tractor that exploded into flames in his barn and almost burned down his entire farm, and to the horrible record of the Rangers.”