pentti lund, 1925–2013

Low Poke: Chicago's Doug Bentley reaches for Pentti Lund's puck in a game at New York's Madison Square Garden in December of 1949.

Low Poke: Chicago’s Doug Bentley reaches for Pentti Lund’s puck in a game at New York’s Madison Square Garden in December of 1949. “The game was a spotty one,” opined The New York Times next day, “with long sessions of aimless puck chasing interrupted by brilliant individual sallies. Still, the outcome proved satisfactory to most of the 9,174 spectators.” New York won, 2-1.

The New York Rangers eventually lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup semi-finals in 1971, but they had some big wins along the way. One of them included a hattrick by centre Vic Hadfield, the first to be notched in the playoffs by a Ranger since Pentti Lund managed it. “I remember Lund,” Jean Ratelle said after the game, Hadfield’s linemate. “From the bubblegum cards I had as a kid.” Hadfield: not so much. “I never heard of Lund,” he said. “How long ago did he do it?”

It was the spring of 1950, in fact, which is worth recalling, with word today from Thunder Bay today that Lund has died at the age of 87. The second Finnish-born player to make a mark in the NHL, those who do remember him in New York know that he not only won the Calder Trophy as the league’s outstanding rookie in 1949, but Lund’s hattrick the following year almost — it was close — helped the Rangers win a Stanley Cup, too. Continue reading

holmer, not homer

My mistake. Toronto GM Brian Burke wasn’t, in fact, talking about Homer’s view on the place of protective visors in hockey, but Holmer’s. As in his counterpart over at the Philadelphia Flyers, Paul Holmgren, who said last week: “To me, it’s not an issue: Players should wear them.”

So that clears that up.

Just for the record, there are no mentions of visors in The Odyssey. Lots of helmets and shields, though, and even if the context is different, the message is pretty much the same whether it’s the safety of players you’re talking about or heroes: “If, again, war were to break out this day,” cries Ulysses, “give me a shield, a couple of spears and a helmet fitting well upon my temples.”

puck classics

Colder this week in Toronto, but mostly it’s wet. A mist of rain, or a rain of mist, one of those, on the way down to Toronto library headquarters today on two pressing investigations:

1. The debate over mandatory visors started up again almost immediately during the Toronto-Philadelphia game on Monday night after Mikhail Grabovski’s stick snicked Chris Pronger’s eye. Sifting the yays and the nays in today’s Globe and Mail, James Mirtle talks to Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. He thinks defencemen should have to wear shields, no question. All the players, though? “I’d want to hear the GMs on the larger topic,” he says, “but I think I would support Homer.” Continue reading