Category Archives: Chicago Blackhawks

They’re Humans!

The 1972 Summit Series wasn’t the first time the Russian National team set foot on North American soil. Fifteen years prior, in 1957, the Soviets played exhibition games in Canada, were guests of Maple Leaf Gardens for a Leafs-Hawks game, and made it known that one of their priorities was to see the great Rocket Richard in action (I don’t know if this happened or not).

They played to capacity crowds, said the big difference between NHL and Russian hockey was “the unnecessary roughness in the NHL”, and a Canadian teenager, seeing the foreigners in a hotel lobby exclaimed, “They’re humans, just like we are!”

R.I.P. Red Fisher

Red Fisher, the man we all knew had the best job on the planet, has died at age 91.

Red covered the Habs for the Montreal Star and Montreal Gazette, beginning in 1955 and ending in 2012, when he was 85-years old. He became one of the boys, part of the players’ and coaches’ inner circle, winning or losing money on card games while the trains took to the team to other big league cities.

His first hockey assignment was, amazingly enough, the night of the Richard Riot (March 17, 1955) at the Forum.

It had to have been an incredible time for Red, covering those Stanley Cup teams over the years and doing so in such fine and unique fashion, and at this time my thoughts go out to Red’s family and friends.

I can only add a bit of a personal story about Red.

In the early 1960s I was a kid at an exhibition game in Peterborough, Ontario between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks, and I approached Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, who were standing by the boards, for autographs. Hull was more than happy to oblige, but Mikita was surly and miserable. I’ve always maintained that he told me to go to hell (or worse) but over the years I began to hope that he didn’t really get that harsh, that it was just me, because I was young, making too much of something.

I would like to say this… In no way is this to be taken that Stan Mikita was a bad person. In the beginning he was a little rough, but as the years went by, Mikita became a fine, friendly gentleman, a class act, and a legendary and deserving Hall of Famer.

After this incident in Peterborough, I wrote a letter to Red Fisher at the Montreal Star about it, and this is his reply back to me.

Stars of the World’s Fastest Game

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. And the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal and collecting 31 penalty minutes.

The father was Jack Dyte, one of my coaches when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers juveniles. Jack played those 27 games with the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1943-44 campaign.

Jack was a quiet, no-nonsense, tobacco-chewing coach and I think he wasn’t crazy about my lack of focus and my humming of Beatles songs as I skated around the ice. But I guess he liked me enough to drive Ron Clarke and I to Barrie one day to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Americans, who had a defenceman on the team named Don Cherry.

Ron and I watched the game from the Bisons bench as sort of unofficial stick boys, and we were given autographed sticks afterward.

I’m guessing Jack stayed and partied with his old hockey buddies because Ron and I had to take the bus back to Orillia. And I had forgotten that Jack had driven us there until Ron reminded me a couple of years ago.

The newspaper article also mentions John French, who would eventually play pro in the WHA, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scoring for the Imperials in the squirt division.

Here’s Jack!

And here’s the lineups for the Bisons-Americans game that Ron and I were at.

Three Goals in 21 Seconds

Hall of Famer Bill Mosienko pulled off the mind-boggling feat of scoring three goals in 21 seconds when he was playing for the Chicago Black Hawks in a game against the New York Rangers on March 23, 1952.

Of course it’s a record. How could anyone ever score three faster than this?

In this 1961 Montreal Forum program (below), Mosienko describes to the one and only Red Fisher exactly how he did it.

“It all came about in the final game of the season for both clubs. We were out to win, sure; but it didn’t mean too much to either team as it wasn’t the Stanley Cup or even playoff berths which concerned us at the time. We were both out of it. It was just another game.”

“Then all of a sudden, the scoring came quick-like, bing, bing, bing. Just like that I got three goals in the space of 21 seconds.

“It was early in the third period and the play was deep in our own end when Gus Bodnar carried it out, skating fast, and flipped to me at centre ice. I cut low around the outside of the Rangers defense, steamed toward the net and let go fast. Lorne Anderson, the Rangers goalie, dived at me, but the puck was low to the left-hand corner and he missed it. The time was 6.09.

“The puck was faced off, and Bodnar got the draw to me. Again I broke around the Rangers defence, was partially blocked, but managed to get away a sizzler, waist high, which eluded Anderson.The puck was past him before he was really set.

The time: 6:20

“Referee Georges Gravel faced the puck, and again Bodnar relayed the puck to me. This time, I cut directly between the Rangers defence, wiggled my way clear and skipped in on Anderson to fire a 15-footer into the top right-hand corner This made it three in a row.

The time: 6:30.

The spree bettered the previous mark of three goals scored in one minute, 52 seconds set by Carl Liscombe of the Detroit Red Wings against the Hawks in 1938. It also bettered the team mark held by the Montreal Maroons – when three different players, Hooley Smith, Babe Seibert and Dave Trottier – scored in 24 seconds back in 1932.

On Feb. 25, 1971, the Boston Bruins scored three times against Vancouver in just 20 seconds, which is an NHL team record at this time.

The record for two teams combining to score three happened on Feb. 10, 1983 when the New York Rangers and Minnesota North Stars did it in 15 seconds.

And as far as the next player after Mosienko scoring three quick ones, Jean Beliveau did it in 44 seconds.

0023

To The Forum, Bus Driver

Twice I saw games at the old Forum when a buddy and I took a bus charter from Orillia. This was the Forum before the renovations in 1968, when there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views, and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

The first time I went I was 13 when the Habs hosted Chicago (Feb. 22, 1964) but I remember almost nothing about this trip, including who I went with. I only know the date and my age because of my ticket stub I show here.

But the second time, with the game on February 26, 1966 against the Rangers as you can see in the other ticket stub and on the Forum marquee, was when I was 15 and I went with my friend Bernie Rivard.

I took all these pictures that also include Toe Blake’s Tavern on Ste. Catherine, which is now long gone (the tavern, not the street), McNeice’s Sporting Goods, which was located on Atwater St, at the Forum, and my two ticket stubs from both trips which are pasted in my scrapbook.

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station in the middle of the night, I was completely drunk. But he didn’t say one word about it.

Banquet Boys

Artwork by the great Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle that appeared on cover of the March 28,1959 issue of Maclean’s magazine.

A bunch of kids at a Catholic hockey banquet bombarding guest Maurice Richard for autographs as the priests and dads stay in the background looking slightly bored.

It makes me smile and it used to make my mom smile too. I have both the trimmed photo, which rests peacefully in my scrapbook now, and the full magazine, which also includes a Trent Frayne article on Chicago Black Hawks coach Rudy Pilous.

Kid Stuff


Practicing my quick draw in Orillia.

American author Bill Bryson wrote a tender and funny book about growing up in the 1950s called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I read it, and I was amazed by this guy’s talent (I’ve since read several more of his books).

I also saw how he and I have a couple of things in common.

We’re almost the same age (I’m a year older), we both lived in towns with great main streets, we wore Davy Crockett coonskin hats, we practiced our quick draw like Roy Rogers, we delivered newspapers, and occasionally we came across naughty skin magazines.

Both our dads were creative, his being a sports writer and mine a sign painter, although his dad got to go to baseball games in New York and Chicago, while my dad stayed in Orillia and painted letters on store windows.

Bill almost saw a naked girl once when he was about eight years old while playing doctor, but she backed out because she had a crush on him. I made sure I didn’t miss my chance because all I had to do was stand on my bike outside the window of the women’s change room at Couchiching beach and look in the window. I was doing great too, until one of my classmates from school, Carol Montgomery, saw me and gave me shit. But I’m pretty sure I rode away on my bike with eyes wide open.

Bill’s big job back then was his paper route, and it was mine too. I won a red transistor radio once for getting the most new customers, and sometimes on winter nights I’d pick up Habs games from Chicago where the homer announcer called the Hawks players by their first names as they moved about the ice.

I would tie my radio to my bike’s handlebars and listen to rock and roll as I made my paper route rounds, and it became the beginning of the end of my world as I knew it, because as soon as I heard Elvis and Roy Orbison and the rest, I began to grow up a little. Music was sure better than just about everything except maybe hockey and baseball, it was way better than school, and through it I began to learn more about girls.

Like Bill, I used to go to movie matinees and whip popcorn boxes like deadly frisbees at the screen and around the room. It was one of life’s great pleasures for me. If you’ve ever fired off a popcorn box missile and clunked some guy in the head who was making out with his girlfriend, you know what I mean.

Life then seemed to have only a small wrinkles, like hoping my classmate  Carol didn’t squeal on me about looking at naked women in the change room. Or trying to decide whether to spend money at the new Dairy Queen which had just opened around the corner, or pinball at the The Hub nearby, or maybe a new fishing rod or Hespeler Green Flash hockey stick at the tiny Canadian Tire next door to the movie theatre.

Back then the Antarctica wasn’t melting, the NHL only had six teams, Mickey Mantle was reaching the upper decks, and doctors recommended smoking for fun and relaxation.

It was great to be young. That’s for sure.

Those Wild And Crazy Early Years

It’s listed as being 1929  and the Chicago Black Hawks on YouTube but I think it’s off by a year or two and it’s more likely 1930 or ’31. And it’s not the Chicago Black Hawks.

Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Ace Bailey, Aurele Joliat, Dit Clapper, Lester Patrick, and so many other all-time greats of the game roamed the ice back then, and 1930 was only a year after Wall Street crashed and women now being considered “Persons” under new Canadian law.

The Habs would win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1930 after taking out the Boston Bruins in two games, with Howie Morenz netting the winner.

The NHL was a ten-team league at this time – Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, the Montreal Maroons, and the NY Americans in the Canadian Division, and Boston, the Rangers, the Detroit Cougars, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the American Division.

This minute and a half home video  features the AHA Chicago Shamrocks and possibly the St. Louis Flyers (or Duluth Hornets) and is a fascinating look at the boys back then.

And the ice cleaners at the end of the clip are something to behold.

Great Old Hockey Coins

This is my set of Sherriff/Salada hockey coins from 1961-62 which I’ve had since I was eleven years old. They came in Jello and potato chips, and I pressured my mom to buy handfuls of Jello instead of just one or two. So we had a kitchen cupboard with lots of open boxes of Jello in it. I also ate more potato chips than any one human should possibly eat.

At school we would play closest to the wall, just like hockey cards, and I was sad when my coins would dwindle. But on the other hand, if I went back to class after recess with dozens more than I had started out with, then all was right with the world. I think it was one of the best feelings in the world, actually.

You could send away to the company for the shields, which I did, but after putting them in their slots and trying to hang them on the wall, most would fall out because they didn’t fit well. So I added small amounts of glue to the backs. When you see these coins in their shields on eBay, which you don’t see very often, most have been glued like mine.

These plastic hockey coins began the year before, in 1960-61 and I had a bunch of them, but not anymore. They also came out as metal coins in 1962-63, and I still have the full set of these. And there were no shields available for these other years.

The coins made a comeback in 1967, but I don’t think they became all the rage like they were in the earlier years. These later coins have become quite rare and valuable because, I suppose, there just weren’t that many.

Baseball and football also had their own coins, as did old cars and airplanes and flags. But it’s the hockey coins I cherished the most.

Habs

Leafs

Hawks

Rangers

Wings

Bruins