Reward For A Job Well Done

Carey Price was selected as number one star Saturday afternoon after the San Jose game. I know because it said so on the TV screen.

The three star selection seemed to be a bigger deal years ago than now. The game was never over until the three players skated out to the cheers and jeers of the crowd. They often made grand entrances, skated wide circles, waved and blew kisses, and it was the icing on the cake, one final drama to cap the big night. Yvan Cournoyer would come out looking like he wanted to grab a puck and go with it. Eddie Shack, on those rare occasions when he was chosen, would sometimes do pirouettes.

The three stars are still announced at games now, but TV audiences don’t always see them, especially when it’s other than Hockey Night in Canada. And many times we may not even see who was selected at all. I guess time is money, and sometimes there’s no time to show the three stars.

And why are there three stars in a hockey game? Because Imperial Oil, who sponsored Hockey Night in Canada for so many glorious years, had a brand of gasoline in the 1940′s called “Three Stars.”

18 thoughts on “Reward For A Job Well Done”

  1. Dennis, here’s a story from the Montreal Gazette on the origins of the three stars:

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Canadiens+show+faith+fans/3691948/story.html

    An old Imperial gas station sign:

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/37/119466496_be7ab6bc59.jpg?v=0

    An old hockey schedule sponsored by Imperial:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_TwAbZhMGVEw/SNQ_OHbloGI/AAAAAAAAELc/aqlOX0oHLr8/s320/imperialoil.JPG

    And a picture of the Imperial Three Star Club:

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/3693389.bin?size=620×400

  2. Hey Dennis,I am a little pissed that they dont have the three star selection the way it was done,not so many years ago.I enjoyed seeing the greats come out for a skate after the game had ended.I guess it’s just one more thing to blam bettman for,i’m sure I can come up with lots of things to blame on him.

  3. That is a really interesting story about the origin of the Three Stars and I thank you both for the info. It’s a pity that really the only guy who seems tickled by it still on the current Habs is Andrei Kostitsyn, or perhaps that’s just my impression. But the others when they are announced look like they can’t really wait to get off the ice.

    As for blaming Bettman, well I have to work tomorrow and I’m pretty sure Mondays are his fault too.

  4. Tyg, I agree with you so much about the players not looking interested in the 3 star thing, and it was kind of what I was trying ot convey in my story. The 3 Stars aren’t anything like it used to be. And I didn’t know that about Kostitsyn so thank you for that.

  5. Kinda unrelated, but I really want the Habs to become 1st in the East, just to shake it up for the NHL and their, “Hey look! The top two teams in the East are going head-to-head in the Winter Classic!” They’ll also have to explain why it’s not Montreal having a nice outdoors game on New Year’s day and why we’re better than the guys being shown on TV. Possible evidence for this last fact: 2010 Stanley cup playoffs. I’m liking where this could go. :)

  6. Carey hasn’t been showing any signs of slowing down, and hopefully his hot streak doesn’t end any time soon, he’s the only reason why the team is doing so well right now. It’s just amazing to see how much he’s improved in one season, from a dud, to one of the most talked about players in the league now. Good for him!

  7. Habby, every time I think about these outdoor games I think about how easily it could go wrong if it’s a warm day. Thye’ve dodged a bullet so far with these, but I think some day it’s going to happen where the ice melts. For myself, if it’s really cold like it was in Edmonton for the Montreal game back then, I’m not sure if I’d want to go if I’m way up at the top of a 50,000 seat stadium in the freezing cold. But if it goes well in Pittsburgh, I’m all for hockey getting a buzz in the state. Of course, as Don Cherry said and I agree with him on this, the answer to hockey down there is more fighting but the league doesn’t want that.

  8. Hi Phil. I’m sure the Price story is the biggest story of the year in the NHL. He was almost run out of town, couldn’t stop a beach ball, and now look at him. We all should be very proud of him. I wish I had him in my pool.

  9. Your all going to shout at me and call me a Pinko but…………..

    I’m not sold on this more fighting in hockey idea.

    I played rugby as a young man at school and college so I’m au fait with the role of physical commitment and resultant violence, skulduggery and downright thuggery in a contact sport.

    But I think it would be a mistake to pander to a perceived need for outright violence as a means for getting more TV advertising, bums on seats etc. If “folks” (to channel my best George Bush) just want to see other people beating the living shite out of each other in a confined space then there are outlets for that. To be honest it gives me the creeps. I can’t even watch boxing much these days. Maybe I’m too old now and I’ve seen people die or whatever but for me it isn’t sport.

    I enjoy watching hockey. Its supremely skilful while at the same time being physically demanding. And importantly you don’t have to be at the extremes of human physique to play it. The hits, the aggressive forechecking are an integral part of the game, and from my viewpoint tick the box for satisfying displaced male aggression.

    I understand the tradition of dropping the gloves. I wouldn’t miss it particularly as the peculiar physics of fighting on skates requires a lot of shirt holding and mutual support, which militates against proper fighting. but within limits it does no harm. Better guys square up and sort it out then exact revenge with cheap hits and nasty stickwork. But really for me it’s secondary to the game.

    I remember years ago reading an article that criticised a propensity in US sport to accentuate violence. I think it was talking about stuff like box lacrosse. You take a sport played on a big field bring it indoors to a confined space, have too many people on the court at one time, thus ensuring a violent spectacle every time.

    Does hockey need this? Yes in a contact sport you’ll always get eruptions of anything from handbags to a serious sort out. But that should be an occasional by-product not the reason for the game.

    You’ve all watched and played the game far more than me and perhaps think I’m arguing for a sanitization of the sport. Maybe I’m just a pinko (as Don would have it). A soft European (as Don would also have it). I just think that an over-emphasis on fighting and slugfests means you lose the attraction of a hard competitive contact sport, you downgrade the skill factor.

    Yes, you have to be physically committed or you get hurt. You are trying to channel aggression the whole time. Of course that will get out of hand from time to time. Physical domination of the opposing team is part of the game. But there is a balance. The example Cherry used did seem to be an overly officious interpretation of the rules but to use that as an argument for wanting more fighting so as to sell the game further south is specious at best.

    Dealing with the propensity for violence and aggression in any society is a complex matter and the role of sport in that is equally difficult. But actively encouraging guys to duke it out for the crowd when there’s a game to be played leads you down the route of choreographed violence and the wresting type pantomime goody v baddy nonsense.

    I know you wont let me into Canada now but I just had to get that off my chest.

  10. Bravo Blue Bayou.

    And you certainly would make a way better commentator than Don Cherry on HNIC.

    Pinkos like you are always welcome in my Canada.

  11. good comments Blue Bayou. I agree with you. I go to watch games for the skill and outcome. The 2 points are much more welcome than seeing Laraque beat up Chara (almost sorry to Diane:). It is nice to see a goon get beaten but I don’t pay to see Sedin fight Plekanec. That would be just a waste of money. I don’t care for the violence and that doesn’t turn my crank. Speed, skill, passing and the necessary body-checks are what people pay for. The fights aren’t and shouldn’t be considered part of the game like idiots like Cherry state. They’re simply a by-product of strategy that teams like Philadelphia employ. Fighting does add excitement to the game but it isn’t a necessary component. I’d still attend Canuck games if it were banned. Would be interesting to see how Pronger would do in a UFC match. He’d be submitted or KO’d in the first minute.

  12. As usual, great comment BlueBayou. Hockey will never be ingrained into southern Americans without a little glove-dropping, so if the league is set in their idea of growing the sport down there, there has to be some fighting. This is what Cherry is saying and I believe it to be true. Folks in the south don’t care about fancy plays as much as a true hockey fan, they want some rough and tumble in there. I absolutely understand this. I despised the Broad St. Bullies and all they stood for so I don’t lean heavily on the fighting side. I also dislike the pre-scheduled fights that everyone know are coming. But I feel it would be a sad day if fighting was gone forever from hockey. It’s always been a part of this game since the first puck was dropped and fans never went for a hot dog when they were on, as the saying goes. I like hockey to be physical and if it’s not, there might be no fighting, but it would be such a snoozefest. I’ve been to games in Finland and Russia before they started to copy the North American style slightly, where hitting was at a mininum and there was no chance of a fight, and these games lacked so much I can’t begin to describe. It was like the soul had been taken out. Imagine Rocket not being able to blow a fuse? Bobby Orr was an excellent fighter. I’m not in favour of taking it out of the game, but I can do without the goonery. And if fighting is finally gone, so will Gary Bettman’s master plan of hockey where hockey shouldn’t be. I enjoy it when a couple of normal players square off and get it out of their system. More and more we aren’t seeing it and it and I’d like just a tad more. Wouldn’t it be tremendous if a player of the same size dropped them with Sean Avery and we finally saw Avery take his medicine fair and square? And wouldn’t it be nice if the skilled players could do their thing and not get bullied? Because they will be bullied forever after now because they can’t be protected anymore. Wayne Gretzky was able to dance because opposing players knew they had to deal with Dave Semenko if they touched The Great One. But now with the instigator rule in place, guys like Semenko wouldn’t be in the league and Gretzky would be taking head shots and high sticks on a nightly basis. Semenko at best would have been a mediocre minor leaguer. I enjoy a good, fair fight and feel it’s part of hockey. But like I said, I didn’t enjoy what the Flyers in the 1970′s did, and I don’t like the pre-planned stuff. But if I’m a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia Byers Bulldozers midgets all star team and some big thug sticks his stick down my throat as I’m dazzling with the puck, I’d like one of the bigger guys on my team to teach the thug a lesson once and for all so I can continue to dazzle. And there’s no way I want any semblance of the old European-style of play. Cricket would be more exciting.

  13. Dennis,

    I agree that the biffs and bangs are part of the game and are part of the enjoyment. And hockey’s not the only sport where if you leave the job of protecting the skilled players to officials it just ends up with them getting hurt and those who seek retribution getting a worse punishment than the instigator.

    So it’s a fine line between letting teams work things out and stopping goonery or outright dangerous play thereby allowing the physical intensity, whch is part of the attraction.

    We have concerns here that football (soccer) is becoming too non-contact. Not in terms of removing very bad challenges but in almost removing shoulder to shoulder contact and reasonable use of the body. It’s a contact sport. It’s not basketball.

    It is strangley ironic that at a time post lockout where the emphasis is on a faster flowing game with less emphasis on choreographed fights and an ongoing debate over taking out dangerous hits (and what constitutes one) that the expansion is hitting those regions where greater biffage may be needed to attract the punter. Poor old Gary. What does he do?

  14. From my understanding of Don’s ramblings on Saturday night, he was advocating fighting as the main attraction for southerners. It wasn’t the usual fighting is a small but important part of the game argument. The closest explanation is that if they watch NASCAR for the crashes, maybe they’ll watch hockey for the fights. It’s the old ’70s joke about going to a fight and a hockey game breaking out.

  15. Uh oh, all these years my love for the 3 stars has been an advertisement for Imperial/Esso/Exxon. I want to go back to being ignorant and thinking they’re all about Molson’s beer.

  16. Chris, the “small but important part of the game” argument is an argument I agree with. And southerns don’t understand the finer points and that’s okay. So they need some fights, which I feel is fine. They just don’t need the Broad St. Bullies. None of us do. Excpet Philly fans.

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