Category Archives: Montreal Maroons

Barn Burners

Are you feeling romantic and appreciative and looking to do something nice for your spouse?

You could do what I did. I took my wife to see the places where the Canadiens played before they made the Forum their home. It goes without saying that she was overcome with joy and appreciation.

Three rinks. And all three burned down.

First, the 3,200-seat Jubilee Arena in east-end Montreal, at the corner of St. Catherine and Malborough (now Rue Alphonse – D. Roy.)

The Canadiens played there during their first ever season, 1909-10, and again from 1917 until it burned down in 1919.

What the Jubilee looked like, inside and out –

Jubilee Arena

Jub.

And what it looks like now, from two angles –

Jubilee 1

Jubilee 2

From 1910 to 1918, the Canadiens played at the Montreal Arena (or Westmount Arena as it was also called), at the corner of St. Catherine and Wood, one block west of what would become the Forum.

The place held 4,000 people seated and another 6,000 standees, and burned down in 1918, forcing the Canadiens to move back to the Jubilee for a very short period.

The Montreal Wanderers played there also, and I kind of feel for this long-gone team. After being a powerhouse in the old ECAHA and NHA, they joined the NHL in 1918 and played just four games before their barn burned down. So they called it quits permanently.

What the Montreal Arena looked like then –

Westmount Arena

And what it looks like now –

Westmount 1

Westmount 2

And finally, the 6,000-seat Mount Royal Arena near the corner of Mount Royal and St. Urbain, where the Canadiens, after the Jubilee burned down, played from 1920 to 1926 . After that they would take residence (with the Maroons) in the Forum, which was built two years prior in 1924.

The Mount Royal Arena burned down in 2000.

What it looked like then –

Mount Royal Arena

And what it looks like now. A Provigo –

Mount Royal 1

 

Stevie L

From that fine part-time Orillia boy Stephen Leacock.

“In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter…we are alive.”

Leacock was, of course, a world-renown humorist who in 1912 upset a bunch of locals after he’d made fun of the barber and undertaker and others in his book about Orillia called Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. My parents used to see his son Stephen Junior walking around town.

His beautiful Oriilia summer home, now a museum, sits on the shores of Lake Couchiching, a nice lake full of sunfish, perch and wee little bass, and where the odd time over the years someone would tell the newspaper they saw a sea serpent.

And although Stephen was originally from England, he seemed to get what hockey meant to many Canadians. He could’ve even been a Habs fan and followed the exploits of Vezina, Lalonde, Joliat, and Morenz and the boys when he was a professor and lecturer at McGill University in Montreal from 1900 to 1936.

Heck, he might have even taken a stroll to the Forum and watched the Montreal Maroons in 1934-35 when a young Toe Blake played eight games for them.

Stephen died in March of 1944,  and if he could’ve held on for another fifteen years or so, he might have seen me and my friends out on Lake Couchiching, whether it was swimming and fishing in summer or skating on the frozen lake in winter.

He might have made fun of us in a book like he did with the barber and undertaker and the rest in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Maybe called it Sunshine Sketches of a Little Team.

leacock-museum

Leacock

 

Elmer Ferguson’s Letter

Recently I added two original letters to my collection. I’ll put the other up later on because spacing things out is my new mental health strategy. Sometimes it’s good to be spaced out.

I’ve got a bunch of cool letters and I’m very happy about this one, a beauty from 1929 on Montreal Herald letterhead from the one and only Elmer Ferguson, who was a long time editor of the Herald, later a Gazette columnist, and a guy an important award is named after.

I love old letters. Nobody sends me any, so I’ve resorted to collecting other people’s. Of course, I don’t write letters either but that’s beside the point.

I’ve added a small story about Elmer below it

Elmer

Elmer Ferguson, born in 1885 and deceased in 1972, was the sports editor for the now-defunct Montreal Herald, a newspaper in existence from 1811 to 1957. That’s quite a run. 146 years.

Elmer also did color commentary on radio broadcasts, first with the Montreal Maroons between 1933 and 1938, and then the Habs from 1938 to 1967. He worked alongside the late, great Danny Gallivan in later years.

Mr. Ferguson, who has signed the letter using fountain pen, was inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is given each year to a journalist “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalists and to hockey“.

Those given this big time award are automatically placed in the Hall of Fame, and among the many honoured are the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, and Roy MacGregor, all writers I’ve admired greatly over the years.

The man mentioned in the letter, Cooper Smeaton, was a referee and the NHL’s first referee-in-chief when the league was formed in 1917. He was inducted into the referee/linesmen section of the Hall of Fame in 1961.

The Writers Get Paid

From my collection, this original accounts payable sheet is from Frank J. Selke, signed at the bottom, to various writers who had contributed stories to the Maple Leafs Gardens program in 1938.

Frank Selke, before he became the iconic GM of the Montreal Canadiens from 1946 to 1964, was an assistant and right-hand man to Conn Smythe in Toronto, from 1929 until ’46, when he moved to Montreal.

The names on this sheet are extraordinary, and when you see a payment of $40 for example, according to the Consumer Price Index, $40 in 1938 is equivalent to $642.23 today. And $25 equals $457.42.

Here they are:

Bobby Hewitson, an NHL referee from 1920 to 1934, was the very first curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and was sports editor of the now-defunct Toronto Telegram, a newspaper I delivered when I was 11 or 12. I had the final edition copy for years until my ex-wife threw it out.

Bill Grimes, legendary Boston sportswriter.

Elmer Ferguson, legendary sportswriter for the Montreal Herald and Montreal Star, which spanned 39 years. Elmer was also a radio commentator for the Montreal Maroons (1933-38) and the Canadiens (1938-67). He remains one of the greatest hockey writers of all time.

Tommy Munns, assistant sports editor of the Globe and Mail.

Victor O. Jones, sportswriter for the Boston Globe.

Ted Reeves, a true legend. Played on two Grey Cup Argos teams, and became a beloved sports writer with the Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun. There’s even an arena named after him in Toronto. He used to write these rambling sports poems, one of which I have in an old program, and his nickname was “The Moaner.”

Fred Jackson, succeed Lou Marsh as sports editor of the Toronto Star.

Hal Straight, sports editor of the Toronto Sun, a man who taught Pierre Berton the ins-and-outs of the newpaper business.

Marc McNeil, sportswriter for the Montreal Gazette.

Bill Roche, sportswriter in Sarnia and Toronto, and hockey author.

Jim Hurley, sportswriter for the New York Daily Mirror.

Harry Scott, sports editor of the Calgary Albertan, who played two seasons for the Montreal Canadiens (1913-14, 1914-15), with Georges Vezina and Newsy Lalonde as teammates.

Please note: I couldn’t find any information about Boaxil O’Meara and John Buss. If anyone can fill me in I would appreciate it very much.

While Waiting

Just a great game the other night in Boston, and of course we need more of the same from the boys on Saturday afternoon when the Lightning come to town.

Meanwhile, cleaning more stuff off my desktop.

A snapshot of Jacques Plante and his wife in the late 1970s; a vintage sweater box I noticed on a shelf at work, a neat cartoon, and a Forum program that the cartoon was in, from a Montreal Maroons/Leafs game.

Hope you don’t mind. You’re at a slightly unconventional site.

And anyway, I could go on and on about how this year’s squad can never take a night off, how they have to skate and drive hard to the net and have the puck more than the other team and give 140% like I do at work.

But I won’t, because it’s Friday. Which means it’s beer time at St. Hubert’s Chicken.

Plante

box

cartoon

Forum cover

On A Winter’s Night

It’s -22 in Montreal now, with the Weather Network adding that it feels like -30 with the wind chill.

And a big snowstorm is supposed to come in later today.

I’d like to thank Mother Nature, the weather gods, and my guardian angel for making this on a Saturday when I don’t have to drive to work. Or do anything except watch the Canadiens smarten up and play better in Long Island than they have for the past week or two.

And who knows, the boys might be snowed in if it gets bad here.

If you have a good four-wheel drive, would you mind running down and bringing some players back after the game? I guess we’ll need quite a few four-wheel drives. And it might be quite a drive.

Like this.

Back in 1929, the Boston Bruins team pulled out of the train station bound for Montreal with Eddie Shore running down the platform after getting stuck in a traffic. He missed the train but still thought he could make it anyway.

A rich friend loaned Shore his chauffeur and limo and they began heading north to Montreal at 11 pm in a huge snowstorm. The chauffeur was so nervous driving that he wouldn’t go faster than a couple of miles an hour. Shore eventually had enough and took the wheel. At one point the windshield wipers froze up and he had to remove some glass so he could see. They wore out two sets of tire chains and Shore had to walk a mile for help when he put the car in the ditch and had to rent a team of horses to pull it out.

Closer to Montreal Shore told the chauffeur to take the wheel and Shore had a quick nap. They finally made it to Montreal at 5 pm the following afternoon, met with Bruins GM Art Ross, and although Shore almost collapsed at one point, he insisted he play and Ross relented.

That night, almost 24 hours after heading out from Boston in  a snowstorm, Shore scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Bruins win over the Maroons.

Stars Of The World’s Fastest Game

Maybe if newspapers started doing this again, they might sell more papers.

Peter Hab mentioned the other day about old Star Weekly hockey pictures the newspaper would publish back in the 1960s, great photos usually shot by renown hockey photographer Harold Barkley.

The first four photos below are Star Weekly examples.

The Star, and all the other papers under the same publishing umbrella, weren’t the only ones who showed hockey players. At the same time, the Toronto Telegram, the Montreal Star, and other related papers published different style pictures, like Henri Richard you see below. These pictures were an inch or two longer than the Star’s and always extremely beautiful.

Heck, they were all extremely beautiful.

They weren’t the first either.

Long before these papers were doing it, a five-year period from 1927-28 to 1931-32 saw La Presse in Montreal publish a run of 71 NHL player pictures, mostly of Habs and Maroons, with a sprinkling of Leafs, Bruins etc thrown in. They’re at the bottom.

four

nine

seven

011

five

HM

GV

AJ

GH

PL

 

 

The Morenz Memorial Program

Howie Morenz passed away on March 8, 1937, and that fall, on November 2, the NHL All-Stars featuring Eddie Shore, Charlie Conacher, Busher Jackson and the gang played a Montreal Canadiens/Maroons combination with Aurele Joliat, Johnny Gagnon, Toe Blake and Jimmy Ward and the rest to raise money for the Morenz family.

Howie Morenz Jr., who was about 10, skated in the pre-game warmup and took shots on both goalies.

This is the program from that night.

morenz

009

Life In The Fast Lane

As we wait for Friday night’s game in Columbus, I thought I’d tell you about one of the biggest chokes (and greatest comebacks) of all time, which happened to be in the final minute of a game.

If the Habs ever let this happen, I’m switching to cricket.

Learned from an old Forum program, it went like this, l

It was 1932 and the Montreal Maroons, desperately fighting for a playoff spot, were trailing 3-1 to the New York Rangers at the Forum with a minute left.

Fans were heading for the exits as the last minute of play began, when suddenly, a Ranger took a tripping penalty. Then with the Maroons on the power play, Bun Cook of the Rangers went to the box and the Maroons found themselves with a two-man advantage.

At that point, Maroons coach Sprague Cleghorn put five forwards on the ice, and at 19:12 of the third period, it became just a 3-2 lead for New York when Maroons forward Dave Trottier banged home a Jimmy Ward pass.

Don’t forget, players back then didn’t come out of the penalty box when a goal was scored. That rule was changed only when the powerhouse Canadiens of the late -1950s kept scoring and the league decided it wasn’t fair.

Anyway, the puck was faced off, Hooley Smith quickly got the puck over to Trottier, who quickly gave it back to Smith, and suddenly the game was tied.

It was 19:20 of the third.

Fans hurried back to their seats, the two Rangers in the penalty box must have felt pretty bad, and when the puck was once again dropped at centre ice, the Rangers took control but suddenly lost it. Trottier grabbed it, hurried down the left side, sent a feathery pass over to Jimmy Ward who worked it to Babe Siebert, who drilled it home to give the Maroons the lead and the win.

The time – 19:36.

In 24 seconds of the final minute, the Maroons scored three times, giving them a playoff spot and setting a record for fastest three goals scored by one team. The record didn’t last though. Boston scored three in 20 seconds in 1971.

And about another record, Bill Mosienko’s “three goals in twenty-one seconds”.

It’s hard to imagine, someone scoring three goals in twenty-one seconds, but Chicago’s Mosienko did it, with the Rangers again on the receiving end, and if you’d like to know how he did it, here’s how he described it to Red Fisher back in 1961. (Mosienko died in 1994).

“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 skippd 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.