I remember when the picture in the magazine article about Bobby Hull working on his farm near Point Anne, Ontario came out, and so many people thought it was me.
Frankly, I never understood the comparison. My hair was much darker.
The picture below was sent to me from a friend in Leningrad in the mid-1980s.
Team Canada 1974, stars from the rival WHA, taking on Kharlamov, Mikhailov, and Tretiak two years after the big one. (results at the bottom).
Rick Ley, second in the top row, was a boyhood friend growing up in Orillia, who knocked my front tooth out by accident when throwing a baseball. And he borrowed my hockey gloves and never gave them back.
Five players suited up at one time or another with the Habs – JC Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Ralph Backstrom, Marc Tardif, and Frank Mahovlich.
Three players on this Team Canada ’74 squad also played in the historic 1972 Summit Series before bolting to the WHA – Paul Henderson, Mahovlich, and Pat Stapleton.
Down the left side are coaches Billy Harris, Bobby Hull, and Pat Stapleton.
Top row left to right – Don McLeod, Rick Ley, J.C. Tremblay, Mike Walton, Rejean Houle
2nd row – Brad Selwood, Andre Lacroix, Tom Webster, Gordie Howe, Marty Howe
3rd row – Mark Howe, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Harrison, Rick Smith, Paul Shmyr
4th row – Paul Henderson, Serge Bernier, Bruce MacGregor, Marc Tardiff, John McKenzie
5th row – Al Hamilton, Frank Mahovlich, Gerry Cheevers
USSR Wins Series 4-1-3
I went to see Face-Off in downtown Toronto when it was brand new in the theatres. It was sort of interesting. Some great players had cameos in this Canadian story of a folk singer and a hockey player having problems because of the difference in lifestyles, but without the decent hockey footage, I think the story would suck.
Rick Ley, a kid from the neighborhood in Orillia playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time, was in it and I even think he had a one-line speaking role.
In the U.S. the movie is called “Winter Comes Early”. I don’t know why. Maybe the studio was worried that too many people, particularly in the warmer areas, wouldn’t have a clue what the title meant.
I like the last paragraph in the clipping below about Jacques Plante.
I’m out of town for the day and thought I’d just re-post this because it’s so freakin’ unbelievable. Enjoy the Original Six, with Beliveau and the gang, in splendid quality.
I don’t know how often this has ever been in circulation, but it’s one of most greatest ten minutes of hockey clips you’ll ever see.
It’s from 1967, the quality is sensational, like it was filmed today, and we see Jean Beliveau, as smooth as smooth can be, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Jacques Laperriere, Terry Harper, Ralph Backstrom, Terry Sawchuk, and just about everybody else from that time, all from the old Montreal Forum with the pillars in the background.
It’s called Blades and Brass, is set to music of a Mexican brass band, and comes from the National Film Board of Canada. So just sit back and enjoy the Original Six at the old Montreal Forum, in perfect quality.
From the incredible eBay pages of Kouli the Greek, a fellow in Vancouver with a massive collection of photos listed to sell, we have -
Jesse Owens, George Hainsworth, Rocky Marciano and Archie Moore, Bobby Clarke, Eddie Shore, the 1936-37 Hawks, Joe Lewis and Abe Simon, Bert Gardiner, Jackie Robinson and ’53 Dodgers, Ted Williams and Bobby Hull, and Ted Williams and a kid.
Up until this December 1964 Hockey Pictorial question was posed, just three players had ever scored 50 goals in a season – Maurice Richard in 1944-45, Bernie Geoffrion in 1960-61, and Bobby Hull during the 1961-62 season.
Who would finally score more than 50 in a season?
As you can see, five of the six players polled thought it would be Bobby Hull, while Jacques Laperriere figured Jean Beliveau would be the man.
The answer would come the following year, when yes indeed, it was Bobby Hull, who scored 54 in 65 games.
Hull would also bulge the twine 52 times in ’66-’67 and 58 in ”68-’69.
And how did the Golden Jet explain his talent for scoring? He mostly credited the introduction of the curved stick, which allowed him to blast howitzers at panic-stricken goaltenders. And although that’s a very credible explanation, it doesn’t do Hull complete justice. He was a beautiful skater, strong as an ox, and one of the greatest ever. The curved stick only added another huge element to Hull’s game.
Not long after Hull’s feats, the numbers would get out of hand. Phil Esposito would light the lamp 76 times in 1970-71, and during the 1980-81 campaign, eight players would score 50 or more, including Mike Bossy with 68 markers.
But it would be the 1981-82 season when goal scoring really blossomed, led by Wayne Gretzky, of course. Ten players cracked the 50-goal mark that year, with Gretzky notching an amazing 92 goals.
And back to the curved stick -
Andy Bathgate says it was he who was the first to use it, but it was Hull’s teammate Stan Mikita who is generally regarded as the inventor, although it came accidentally.
As explained in Bruce Dowbiggin’s book “The Stick,” Mikita’s stick cracked during practice, and he tried to break it and throw it away, but it wouldn’t snap completely. Mikita then jammed the stick into the door at the bench and it ended up looking like a boomerang.
While he waited for his trainer to get him another stick in the dressing room, which was several minutes away down the steps at the old Chicago Stadium, Mikita, out of anger, slapped a puck with the broken stick and the puck took off. He slapped another and it was the same thing. He was amazed, even at the new sound the puck made hitting the boards.
Back in the dressing room, Mikita started bending all his sticks, but they were breaking, until someone suggested making them wet first, which he did. He then left his new, curved sticks overnight, and the next day at practice he started shooting. The first shot was like a knuckler in baseball. It dropped and veered, and the next shot did all sorts of weird things too.
Bobby Hull was watching all this, and began bending his too.
Coach Billy Reay wasn’t impressed. He figured they wouldn’t be able to control their shots, and he was right. In Hull’s first game using this new banana blade, his first shot went right over the glass. In another game, Hull hit Ranger goalie Gump Worsley in the head, and when asked if he feared the curved blade, Worsley replied that he thought fans behind him were in more danger than him.
And about Andy Bathgate saying he was the first.
Bobby Hull said he always remembered Bathgate as having a bit of a curve to his sticks, even in the late ’50s, but it was Mikita who pioneered the whole idea of it. Bathgate has said that when Chicago was playing his Rangers one night, his trainer had lent Mikita one of Bathgate’s sticks (which is unusual to say the least), after the Hawk had run out of his own, and Mikita had liked the curved stick.
Mikita disagrees and talked to Bathgate about this, and in Dowbiggin’s book is quoted as saying, “I told Andy to his face that he’s – well, let’s say I talked to him about it. I might have borrowed some sticks, but I sure don’t remember any curve.”
And one final note: It was a Bathgate shot that smashed into Jacques Plante’s face, causing Plante to come back out wearing his mask for the first time during a game.
Ditto to yesterday’s post Long Weekend Hockey Coins, where the key words were “exhausted, 1961-62, Shirriff, and 140%.” And maybe “couch.”
Today, replace 1961-62 with 1962-62, and definitely include the words exhausted and 140%.
Hockey coins back then were a big success. I personally bought so many bags of Shirriff potato chips to get them, I probably paid for one of their new fancy potato slicing machines.
Below, my nice 60-coin 1962-63 metal set from Shirriff.
The previous two years to this, coins were plastic.
The whole idea of hockey coins, along with with car coins, baseball coins, airplane coins etc, that came out during these years, was just fantastic. We had so much fun with these, at school and flipping against walls, and trying to get them all. Beautiful.
You’re partying, opening up the cottage, slacking off, laying on the couch, picking your toenails, practicing yoga, drinking beer, while I’m giving my usual 140% at work, making sure travelers get on the ferry boat in fine fashion.
Naturally I’m exhausted, and because of this, I’ll just take some pictures of my 1961-62 hockey coins which I had collected when I was a kid and am lucky enough to still have now. I don’t have the energy for anything else. 140% is a lot.
It took a lot of Shirriff potato chips and Salada jello and pudding, but I managed to get the entire set, then the shields to complete it.
You relax and enjoy the holiday weekend. I’ll just go to work.
Rick Ley may have grown up to become a hardrock defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New England Whalers, and Hartford Whalers, but he started out as a goalie, as you can see in the bottom paragraph on the left side, when he earned his sixth shutout as the first place Raiders turned back the struggling Argos in Squirt action..
Rick Ley was successful as a minor hockey goalie because he would lay across the ice when we got close and we couldn’t raise the puck over him. That’s why he had six shutouts in nine games.
If you go to the top of the right column, you’ll see that a smallish yet shifty right winger scored a big one as the Bulldozers edged the Smoke Rings 2-1.
And who is Gerald Stones, who tallied 4 goals for the Beehives? No idea. But he got four goals, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Maybe he’ll see this and say hello!
Below, Rick battling with Bobby Orr, and below that, Rick and Bruce Gamble try to stop Bobby Hull, along with Rick and Gordie Howe on a Whalers poster.
A good old Orillia boy.
In this week’s TSN Rookie Rankings, Brendan Gallagher is number one and Alex Galchenyuk number three. The last time I posted this type of thing, on February 20th, Galchenyuk was one and Gallagher two. What a dynamic duo!
Interesting enough, Nail Yakupov is currently way down at 26, and TSN describes the number one overall pick as “cold – one point in the last six games.”
Boston lost to Pittsburgh last night, which eats up one of the games-in-hand the Bruins have on the Canadiens. So the Bruins have now played just two games less than the Habs and hopefully they get smoked whenever they do make up these extra two.
For all you Scott Gomez fans, the San Jose Shark now has two goals and four assists. He’s also a minus five.
Darth told me he saw P.K. Subban and another guy walking down the street near the Bell Centre the morning after the team got back from Florida. Darth and P.K. said hello to each other, and Claude Julien, who happened to be across the street, yelled over that P.K. really embellished the hello. (I made up that last part).
When the NHL was first thinking about introducing the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, they considered calling it the Bill Barilko Trophy in honour of the great Leafs defenceman who died in a plane crash in Northern Ontario just months after scoring the Cup winner against the Habs in 1951.
The next bunch of games for the Habs goes like this: The Senators visit tonight, on Saturday the Canadiens are in New Jersey, then it’s back home to greet the Sabres on Tuesday. So needless to say, three wins is the task at hand. We need Bourque, Diaz, and Prust to get fixed pronto. PAGING DR. RECCHI.
Yes, I know they don’t play a lot of minutes, but I think it’s okay to complain a little about Colby Armstrong with zero goals and three assists in 26 games played, and Ryan White with one goal and no assists after 18 games. All we ask is that they find themselves on the scoresheet just a tad more.
Montreal journalist Andy O’Brien (d. 1987), who was around when Howie Morenz played, once said that Morenz was like a compact version of Bobby Hull.
You can see Bobby Hull in this game below, a Leafs-Hawks tilt that took place almost exactly 52 years ago. There’s a big brawl here, and Bob Nevin ties it up for the Leafs with just over a minute left. Luci and I were at a neat luncheon in Toronto a couple of years ago and I was introduced to Nevin, who was standing at the bar.