“Mr. Muldoon is of the opinion that there is sufficient class among the Vancouver ladies to give either of the opposition teams a fine argument on the ice.” This was February of 1914, and Pete Muldoon was looking to raise a women’s team in Vancouver to challenge those already on skates elsewhere in British Columbia that winter. Come one, come all, the word went out: first practice would be held on Monday the 9th at the Denman Street Arena between 11 and noon.
In 1911, hockey’s famous Patricks — father Joseph along with sons Frank and Lester — put the family’s lumber fortune into building rinks and launching professional hockey in Canada’s westernmost province. When the three-team Pacific Coast Hockey Association got going in January of 1912, it counted in its ranks players whose names today figure among the most famous in the annals of the game, Cyclone Taylor, Newsy Lalonde, and the Patrick brothers among them.
Pete Muldoon played for Frank Patrick’s Vancouver Millionaires, but it was as a manager and coach that he’d make his name. His PCHA Seattle Metropolitans played three times for the Stanley Cup, winning it in 1917. In 1926, when Major Frederic McLaughlin bought the Portland Rosebuds and turned them into the NHL’s Chicago Black Hawks, Muldoon was their first coach. He resigned after a year, unless he was fired — either way, the legend goes that he cast the curse that kept the Hawks out of first place in the NHL for 41 years when the spell was lifted/broken/proved to be bunkum.
Back to 1914 and the women’s game. As Wayne Norton’s Women On Ice: The Early Years of Women’s Hockey in Western Canada (2009) explains, when women’s teams from New Westminster and Victoria played each other in Victoria that February, Muldoon hatched the idea that he’d put together a Vancouver team to challenge the winner for the B.C. championship. Never mind that there were various other women’s teams playing elsewhere in the province — Muldoon and company conveniently forgot about them.
Following that first February practice at the Denman Street Arena and several more besides, the team made its debut on February 20. Wearing the the maroon-and-white sweaters of the PCHA Millionaires and playing seven-a-side, the Vancouver Ladies beat Victoria 1-0 on a goal by Betty Hinds. The intermission entertainment included a performance by Coach Muldoon skating on stilts. The newspaper coverage was as casually and tiresomely sexist as you might expect, with the Vancouver Daily World reporting that
The game was exciting from start to finish and it was not all “butter fingers” playing at that. Some of the hockey exhibited by one or two of the local ladies and some of the Victoria ladies would certainly make many hockey players take notice.
Victoria and New Westminster had previously tied their game, so that when the Millionaires travelled to play the final game in the series, a win by New Westminster gave them the not exactly inclusive) title of provincial champions.
Beyl and Boyd was the San Francisco design and marketing firm that foisted these famous sweaters on the Vancouver Canucks in 1978, convincing the team that their traditional hues just didn’t cut it in the new NHL. “The Canuck colours,” divulged Bill Boyd, one of the deep-thinkers consulted, “were all wrong. Blue-green is the coolest colour of all. Slows the pulse, reduces aggression, promotes calmness. Psychiatric wards are painted blue-green. Encourages tranquility.” That was why the team had no choice other than to go with the palette that goaltender Richard Brodeur is seen styling here during the 1981-82 campaign.
“With the Canucks’ uniforms,” Boyd explained to The Vancouver Sun’s Jim Taylor in ’78, “we are going from the coolest of colours — blue-green — to the hottest — red-orange. The cool colour is passive, the hot one aggressive. Plus the black. It’s the contrast of colours that creates emotion. White produces no response at all, so we went for yellow, which is warm, pleasant, happy. Upbeat. What we are attempting to create is an atmosphere that will help create the happy, upbeat, aggressive player — and, hopefully, the happy, upbeat fan. The Canucks want to provide the fan with an atmosphere in which it’s easier for him or her to have fun.”
The Flying V design survived through the 1984-85 season whereafter it was replaced by the Speedy-Blurry Skate logo. The heated colour scheme persisted until 1997, when the Canucks returned to their tranquil past and suited up once more in blue-green … and white.
Born in Ottawa on a Friday of this date in 1944, goaltender Gary Smith is 77 today. The nicknames he acquired during his career don’t really need a whole lot of explication, but here goes: Suitcase referenced his travels around the NHL, WHA, and minor leagues, wherein he played for 13 teams in 16 seasons during the 1960s and ’70s; Axe underscored his propensity for swinging sticks at passing opponents. His father, Des Smith, played defence starting in the late 1930s for four NHL teams, including Boston; brother Brian was a left winger for Los Angeles and Minnesota in the latter ’60s. Gary shared a Vézina Trophy with Tony Esposito for their work in the Chicago Black Hawks’ crease in 1972, and Smith backstopped the WHA Winnipeg Jets to the 1979 Avco Cup.
The following year was Smith’s last in hockey; it happened to be Winnipeg’s first in the NHL. Defenceman Barry Melrose was a teammate that season, and it’s to him we go for this news of Smith’s in-game rituals.
“He wore 13 pairs of socks in his goalie skates,” Melrose recollected in 2009, “because he hated pucks hitting his feet. He also wore long underwear and after every period, he took off all his gar and had a cold shower. Can you imagine the laundry the trainers had to do? It was 50-some socks per game plus four sets of underwear. The Axe was a weird dude.”
Born in Lachine, Quebec, on a 1933 Friday sharing this date, Charlie Hodge played a part in six Stanley Cup championships won by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s and ’60s. Twice he won the Vézina Trophy, in 1964 and again (this time in tandem with Gump Worsley) in 1966. After nine seasons in Montreal, he was claimed by the Oakland Seals in the NHL’s 1967 expansion draft. He spent two years in California before the Vancouver Canucks took him when they joined the league in 1970. He played a single season in Vancouver before calling it quits, sharing the net with Dunc Wilson and George Gardner. Charlie Hodge died in 2016 at the age of 82.
Sad news today from the alumni association of the Vancouver Canucks: former defenceman Jack McIlhargey died yesterday, July 19, of cancer. He was 68. Edmonton-born, McIlhargey was a Cougar in Victoria and a Bomber in Flin Flon before he got started in the NHL, in 1974, with the Philadelphia. Along with Larry Goodenough, McIlhargey and his moustache arrived in Vancouver in 1977 by way of a trade that returned Bob Dailey to Philadelphia. McIlhargey worked the Canucks’ blueline for parts of four seasons before ending his career with the Hartford Whalers. After retiring in 1982, he worked as both an assistant coach and assistant GM for the Canucks; he also, over the years, steered several of Vancouver’s minor-league affiliates, in Milwaukee, Hamilton, and Syracuse. He had stints, too, back in Philadelphia, with the Flyers, as both an assistant coach and as a scout. Jack McIlhargey was elevated to British Columbia’s Hall of hockey Fame in 2011.
Richard Brodeur was born on this date in 1952 — it was a Monday there, then — in Longueuil, Quebec, which means he’s 67 today. Drafted by the New York Islanders in the seventh round of the NHL’s 1972 amateur draft, Brodeur decided instead to apply his goalguarding talents in the WHA, where he played five seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, helping them to win the 1976-77 Avco Cup.
As an NHLer, he played (not for long) with the Islanders and finished up (only just briefly) with the Hartford Whalers. In between, he featured for eight seasons in the nets of the Vancouver Canucks. In 1982, he helped steer the Canucks into a Stanley Cup finals meeting with the Islanders, who prevailed in four straight games. King Richard, fans nicknamed him then. Grant Lawrence was one such, and he wrote about his admiration in his 2013 book The Lonely End of the Rink:
Unlike many modern-day goalies, where less movement is more, King Richard would excite fans by seemingly throwing his entire body into every shot, making every save look incredibly dramatic and exciting, all four limbs always in action and in full extension. If King Richard was making a high glove save, the glove would shoot straight up in the air whiles his legs would do the splits and his stick hand would shoot out to the side.
During that Cup run in ’82, an Englishman who’d landed in Vancouver put together a group of fellow musicians (he called them King Richard’s Army) and recorded a cheerful dud of a tribute song in Brodeur’s honour. Sample “King Richard!” lyrics: “King Richard/ the lionhearted/ with you in command/ victory shall be ours.” Released as a single, it was given away to frenzied fans at Canucks’ games that spring. On the b-side? A cover of the national anthem of home hockey fans taunting a visiting team on losing night, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
The story of Vancouver’s Asahi Athletic Club’s baseball team is a stirring one, even as it spotlights the shameful history of the Canadian government’s internment of Japanese-Canadian citizens during the Second World War. On a day when Historica Canada is unveiling its latest Heritage Minute (the 91st in that sterling series), you might take a look, here below. The club’s hockey team that’s depicted above is from an earlier generation, 1919-20. For more on the bat-and-ball Asahi, visit Historica Canada’s site (here) and maybe stop in at the page devoted to their history at the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, this way.
(Top image: Library and Archives Canada/PA-117267)
The early pre-Munro table-hockey game known as Hockette would seem to have seen its heyday come and go in the early 1920s. Most of that, as far as I can tell, was on the West Coast. Giving it a go here are members of Charles Royal’s theatre troupe, onstage at Vancouver’s Empress Theatre. Doesn’t look like there was a lot to it: assuming that the table was sold separately, we’re talking about rudimentary wooden puck and peg-goalposts and a handful of wire wands. “Indoor Hockey, the new Scream in Parlour Games” was the sales pitch at one Vancouver store in 1921. At Woodward’s Department Store at Hastings and Abbott, you could pick up yours for 95 cents (reduced from $2.25). The game was already sweeping the city, apparently: the previous November, The Vancouver Daily World was reporting that Mrs. Carr of Strathcona had hosted a Hockette tournament at her house. “A pleasant evening was spent,” and what a crowd: Mrs. Drummond, Miss Clague, Mr. T. Tootle, and Mr. Rufus Dome all partook, though I’m afraid they were losers all. “Mrs. Christie and Mrs. Hendrick secured the honours of the evening.” (Image: Stuart Thomson, City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 99 – 3252)