Category Archives: New York Rangers

Muzz’s Thoughts

When Jacques Plante decided to wear a mask so he’d still have his nose, teeth, and eyesight like other people, hockey’s movers and shakers at the time weren’t thrilled with the idea.

Coach Toe Blake grudgingly went along with it as long as Plante continued to play well, which Plante did, but others voiced strong opposition to this new development.

For instance, Muzz Patrick, then general manager of the New York Rangers, spoke up:

“Our game has as greater percentage of woman fans than any team sport I know. I’m talking about real fans – ones who give you the scoring averages and the All-Star lineups. Those woman fans want to see men, not masks. They want to see the blonds, the redheads – and the bald spots. That’s why I’m against helmets and masks. They rob the player of their individuality.
We start out with goalies wearing masks. Every club has a defenceman or two who goes down to smother shots. Soon they’ll want masks. All the forwards will wear helmets. The team will become faceless, headless robots, all of whom look alike to the spectators. We can’t afford to take that fan appeal away from hockey.”

Below, Muzz Patrick posing for his Beehive photo during his playing days. He had a fine head of hair, kept nice because of no helmet of course.

The Great Old ‘King of Hockey’

I used to have this on video and I remember a few years back (quite a few years now) when my dad and I watched it and we got a good chuckle, even though it was supposed to be a serious drama.

It went over much better than that time I showed my dad an episode of Trailer Park Boys.

It’s the great old film ‘King of Hockey’ from 1936, and it involves the star player of the New York Violets, Gabby Duggan, getting involved with some gangsters who want Gabby to throw the big game.

To add to the drama and suspense, Gabby goes blind for awhile, which throws a wrench into his hockey career with the Violets, not to mention his love life.

The one scene that stands out for me more any other, and the one which made my dad and I chuckle hardest, is when Gabby stickhandles down the ice with one hand on the stick and with the other he gives a nice, long wave to his girlfriend in the stands.

If you don’t want to know how this hockey classic ends, please look away now……..(Gabby thwarts the gangsters, wins the game, and gets the girl).

Jim and Red

As we make our way through this endless and pathetic Habs season, I thought I’d tell you my Red Fisher/Jim Roberts story.

I was a kid at the Montreal Forum to see the Canadiens play the Rangers, and when the siren sounded to end the game, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CHs at centre ice.

This is what I wanted to do as much as see the game. Get close to the ice and see the CHs that I had only seen on grainy television. It was magical to me, and I can still feel that exact moment to this day. Funny what a couple of painted logos on the ice can do.

We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment from the corridor near the dressing room, stacked in bags on carts, bags belonging to all the guys from my hockey cards. I can still feel this moment too.

Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to some guy in a suit, so I sauntered up and asked him to sign my program, which he did and which you can barely see in the picture above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson.

Best of all, Roberts was extremely nice to me and asked me where I was from and such, and he had no idea how much this impressed me.

He impressed me so much that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sake. What a fantastic idea this was.

The next step was writing Red Fisher, and I informed him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back (I had this letter for a few years I think, but don’t anymore), and he told me that he would mention this to Roberts the first chance he got.

I never heard any more. Maybe Jim Roberts waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, it probably wasn’t more than a day or two later that I realized I didn’t want to start a Jim Roberts Fan club. It would be way too much work, and I had school to worry about, hockey to play, Beatles to listen to, girls to think about, public skating to go to on Sunday afternoon,  Ed Sullivan and Bonanza to watch on Sunday evening.

I didn’t have time for this. My weeks were full.

On top of all that, where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?

I don’t know what I would’ve done if Jim had contacted me and told me he was excited to have a fan club.  I’d be stuck.

What the heck was I thinking?

So if Red Fisher forgot to mention it to him, I’m very grateful.

 

 

Phone Book Families, Like the Orrs

Years ago my dad had this old 1959 Orillia and area telephone book hanging around the house which he was planning on tossing out until I asked him if I could have it because I knew Gordon Lightfoot’s family home is listed in the pages.

There are others too.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., and young Gordon, who would be about 20 when this phone book came out, had moved out of the house the year before. I used to have a couple of buddies who also lived on Harvey St, and my dad worked for a while at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

On the same page as Lightfoot is Norman Ley at 47 Wyandotte. Norman was the dad of Rick Ley, who went on to fame and fortune in both the NHL and WhA.

The book also has listings of the area surrounding Orillia, which includes Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home which you can see at Doug Orr, (his dad) on 21 Great North Road. Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr, is listed at 67 River.

Bobby would be about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into Sundridge and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930s and 40s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, and the family home of another respected Canadian writer, Roy MacGregor in Huntsville (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team).

Too Busy For the Habs That Year

003 This is my passport photo taken when I was 17.

I was getting ready to go on a big trip, which ultimately would cause me to miss most of the  Montreal Canadiens’ 1968-69 season.

I’m unable to talk about watching Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley in goal and rookie coach Claude Ruel winning the Stanley Cup in his rookie coaching season and most of the other details of that year, mainly because I wasn’t around.

When this passport picture was taken I was working in a factory, having quit school after grade ten, and was saving my money. I worked for a year in this old place, but on November 22, 1968, a month after I turned 18, my friend Robin and I took a train from Orillia to Montreal, boarded the Empress of England, and sailed for eight days and nights until we reached Liverpool, England.

My thoughts weren’t on the Habs at all. They were filled with swinging London, the Beatles, long-legged lovelies in mini-skirts, Carnaby Street, and of course the great British bands like the Stones, the Who and the Kinks. The sounds that had come out of there while I was stuck in Orillia, and all the photos which described to me a special place where kids were cooler than cool, drove me crazy until I knew I needed to go and see for myself.

From Liverpool we took a train to London because that was ground zero of all that was good and cool about England, and we took a room at the YMCA. (A few years later I also stayed at another YMCA in Sudbury, Ontario, and I don’t know about now, but I can tell you, YMCAs aren’t the Ritz).

I had no idea what was happening with my Habs and I’m ashamed to say it, but I suppose I didn’t really care at this time. We were in England and that was all that mattered. While Beliveau and the Pocket Rocket zigged and zagged and the team geared up for the playoff run, I ate fish and chips, rode double decker buses, and wondered if my hair had grown a bit more.

At one point we went to the Beatles’ office on Savile Row, knocked on the door, and asked a lovely young secretary lady if the boys were in. She said no, and to this day, I’ve wondered what I would’ve done if she’d said yes.

We traveled up through the Midlands in the dead of winter, into Derby and Nottingham, hitchhiking from the other side of the road of course, and I recall sleeping standing up in a phone booth one freezing night. We also got beds at a Salvation Army shelter for the down-and-out, and it was the two of us with heavy woolen blankets over top of us, listening all night to old, homeless men snoring and burping and farting and talking drunken gibberish.

We were in Swinging England! Robin bought a Victorian top hat at  the Portabello Road flea market which he wore when it wasn’t wet and windy. And we saw John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (with future Stone Mick Taylor on guitar) at a jam-packed Railway Tavern (Klooks Kleek), a place that also housed bands throughout the 1960s like the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Yardbirds, and more.

Back home, the Canadiens were rolling along to a first place finish, with big Jean Beliveau ending up second to Phil Esposito for the Hart trophy as league MVP. Yvan Cournoyer finished with 87 points, just five ahead of Beliveau, and Tony Esposito, who of course became a huge star in Chicago, was a Hab that year and replaced Gump Worsley in goal when Worsley had some sort of nervous breakdown.

And in the playoffs, the Canadiens first swept the Rangers, beat Boston in six games, and took out St. Louis in four games to win their 16th Stanley Cup.

There’s just not a lot I can tell you about this Habs season. I was busy.

Sticks on Heads

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There’s nothing like some good, honest hockey violence to stir the innards. For some of us anyway.

The picture above shows just another in the ongoing saga of one of the nastiest, meanest hockey feuds in history that began in New York and carried on in Toronto. It involved the Canadiens’ Ken Reardon and Rangers/Leafs Cal Gardner, and went on for years.

If you’re not crazy about fighting, you might want to go to another one of my posts like when I went to the Atlantic City Pop Festival or something gentle like that. Because this post won’t be for you.

The Habs were in New York, late in the 1947 season, and with about thirty seconds left in the game, Gardner crosschecked Reardon in the mouth and Reardon lost a couple of teeth and was cut on the lip for about twenty stitches. Emile Bouchard hit Bryan Hextall over the head with his stick and Hextall and Bouchard proceeded to pound each other a bunch of times. Then Reardon said some bad words and some guy sitting behind the bench yelled that he shouldn’t swear because his girlfriend was with him, so Rocket Richard hit the fan over the head with his stick and blood was all over the place.

Reardon was not impressed with what Gardner had done to his Hollywood good looks and told a reporter that before he quit hockey he was going to get Gardner. And although he swore it was an accident, in 1949 he “accidentally” broke Gardner’s jaw on both sides in Montreal after Gardner had been traded to the Leafs.

The feud and the fights continued for years. In the above photo, the two lovebirds show some little playfulness at Maple Leaf Gardens. That’s Leaf captain Ted Kennedy on the left and Montreal’s Doug Harvey on the right, along with referee Bill Chadwick.

Ken Reardon went on to become Frank Selke’s right-hand man in Montreal’s front office. Gal Gardner eventually retired from pro hockey in 1961 and played senior hockey in Orillia for awhile. I remember seeing him play at the Community Centre when I was a kid.

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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.

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The Show on the Road

Years ago, before the National Hockey League became the massive corporate machine it is today, big league squads would often spend part of their preseason playing various senior and minor league teams, teams that usually belonged to the big club, in smaller towns in smaller rinks throughout the country.

The Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s, for example, would take their Stanley Cup squad to places like Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Trail, and Trois Rivieres for example, to play the local club in front of a few thousand lucky people. Hockey fans would see the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, Plante and the rest, close up and personal, and it was often before many people had TVs and had until then only known these players through radio and newspapers.

Simply a tremendous treat for the locals.

The old program below shows the NHL New York Rangers in Edmonton to take on the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League before the start of the 1955-56 season. The Rangers iced the full lineup, as teams often did for these games, with Gump Worsley in nets for the Blueshirts.

For Edmonton, future New York Islanders coach Al Arbour is in the lineup, as is Aggie Kukulowicz, who later became known as the interpreter for the 1972 Soviet squad during the Summit Series.

Players from lesser leagues embraced the chance to show what they had against an NHL team. It could sometimes help decide their future. And of course, the fans were also big winners.

At one time, years ago, I tried to sell this old program on ebay, with a starting bid of something like 10 bucks. I didn’t get one bid and decided to hold on to it.

I like it a lot. It’s from another time, on good thick paper stock, and there are so many familiar names here; Bathgate, Worsley, Howell, Gadsby, Horvath, Dea, Melnyk, Poile et al.

Please excuse the two colours. The cover was taken with one camera late in the day, and second page was with another camera the next morning.

I guess it doesn’t matter.

Full Concentration

Of the countless Habs photos in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, this one for me ranks right up there near the top. The close-up action, the fans watching intently (I see one woman), Jacques Plante still almost two years away from putting the mask on.

It’s Dec. 18, 1957, Madison Square Gardens in New York, and Plante and Tom Johnson are working on thwarting a Rangers attack.

The Rangers in front of Johnson are Camille (the eel) Henry and Leapin’ Lou Fontinato wearing number 8. Fontinato would be dealt to the Habs in 1961 for Doug Harvey, who had fallen out of favour with the Canadiens mostly because of his player/union work.

This great photo, slightly adjusted, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on Feb. 17, 1958, and here, a Habs player wearing #27 is included. But I don’t have a clue who this guy might be because my records show that no one did before Frank Mahovlich, who wore it from 1971 to ’74.

However, one could suggest that it could actually be #22, and if that’s the case, Don Marshall wore this number. But Don had way less hair than this guy and a different shaped head.

Here’s an even wider frame that includes a sprawling Claude Provost in front of Fontinato, plus a couple more women in the crowd.

 

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.