Tag Archives: Andy Bathgate

The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.






Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.


My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.





Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.



Live, From The Edmonton Gardens




Neat old 4-page program I came across years ago, featuring the visiting New York Rangers playing the minor pro WHL Edmonton Flyers in an exhibition game prior to the 1955-56 season.

It’s actually a yellow program, but my camera gives it a bluish tint.

The Rangers lineup is packed with familiar names, including future HOFers Gump Worsley, Harry Howell, Bill Gadsby, and Andy Bathgate.

But the Edmonton Flyers has its share of names too, with Al Arbour, Jerry Melnyk, Bill Dea and a handful of others, plus #17 Aggie Kukulowicz, who, along with playing four games with the Rangers between 1952 and ’54, acted as a translator for Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series.

The Flyers, which existed from 1940 to 1963, were a Detroit Red Wings farm club, and also shows Johnny McCormack, who played for the Canadiens from 1951 to ’54, in the lineup.

Players on the Rangers who would don the Canadiens sweater at one time or another include the Gumper from 1963-64 to 1969-70; Ivan Irvin, who skated with the Habs for 4 games in the 1952-53 season; Lou Fontinato, with117 Habs games under his belt in 1961-62 and ’62-63; Jean-Guy Gendron, who was a Canadien for 43 games in 1960-61; and Bronco Horvath, who wore the CH for one game in1956-57;

And coach Phil Watson, who laced ’em up with the Habs for 44 games during the 1943-44 campaign.

I hope I haven’t missed anybody.  If I have, feel free to mention it.

The Edmonton Gardens, where this game took place, was built in 1913 and demolished in 1982, although years before the demolition, in 1974, the WHA Oilers moved over to the new Northlands Coliseum.


The Team


I was the second baseman and sometimes shortstop, depending on whether Sparky Roe or Lorne Wingrove was pitching, and this little small-town team beat city teams all over central and southern Ontario. We were a force, and after winning a provincial championship, the Orillia fire truck picked us up outside of town and carried us in with siren wailing.

Orillia gave us a parade, with us riding in convertibles, just like a Stanley Cup parade. And we had a meeting with the mayor where she gave us pen sets. There was also a banquet we were invited to, with Andy Bathgate, Roger Crozier, football star Garney Henley, boxer Carmen Basilio. and baseball great Sal Maglie there as speakers. Ken  McDonald, who would someday become NHL play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald, was the master of ceremonies.

Each of us had to get up and thank our coaches and parents, and I got up, froze, and nothing came out, so they let me sit down to the laughter of the room.

My picture was in the paper eating ice cream. And when my dad died recently, the funeral director was John Mundell, the kid on the left in the front row, who was a fine outfielder. And of course he wasn’t a funeral director back then. But his dad was.

I was twelve. It was the summer I smoked my first cigar. And I still had my paper route.



50 Or More; And That Curved Stick


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.








Rangers Tonight


The Canadiens hit Broadway tonight for a meeting with the Rangers, and to keep their win streak alive, they know they’ll have to contain the big five – Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Andy Bathgate, and little Camille Henry. They also know they must be aware of the Ranger’s tight defence, with stalwarts such as Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Harry Howell, and Bill Gadsby patrolling the back end.

The Rangers sit eight in the east with 17 points, four points behind the second-place Habs, and at this point, N.Y. coach John Tortorella hasn’t announced whether he’s starting Henrik Lundqvist or Gump Worsley in goal.

A big game for the Habs, as they look to blast those Blueshirts and keep us happy.

The Big Dinner

My peewee baseball team (I was a smallish-yet-reliable infielder) was invited to the big Sports Celebrities Dinner in Orillia, a dinner organized by Ken McDonald, who became Jiggs McDonald, the Los Angeles Kings’ very first play-by-play announcer. I was 13.

The lineup of guests was impressive, and I got them all to sign my little book

Price’s Pose Made Me Chuckle

Opposing teams used to hate it when Jacques Plante would raise his arms high in the air at the end of a game after a sweet victory. Andy Bathgate, whose shot smashed Plante’s face and which led to the goalie insisting on wearing his mask, said he just couldn’t stand it when he would see Plante do the arms thing.

Now it seems some folk aren’t liking Carey Price’s folded arms pose after stopping the Pens in a shootout Thursday night.

Frankly, I didn’t see anything wrong with what Plante did, and I see nothing wrong with Price’s pose.

Nothing Like A Good Mask To Stop Pucks


Yes I know, you’ve probably seen this picture before. But I thought, hey, what the heck, I’m not going to get run over by a bus or have a curse inflicted upon me if I show it. So I’m showing it.

With all the talk about Jacques Plante and him finally putting the mask on after taking an Andy Bathgate puck in the face, there had already been a mask-wearing goalie in the NHL. His name was Clint Benedict, and he also taken a puck in the face, his from Howie Morenz in 1930. Benedict, who played for the Montreal Maroons, had his nose broken and he donned this leather beauty for five games, the last of which he also took a puck square on the mask that was suppose to protect him, and his NHL career was ended.

If these two goalies, Plante and Benedict, would’ve been hit in the face by a shot from me, they probably wouldn’t have felt it and probably would never have bothered with any kind of face protection.

I Hope I Didn’t Get Any Corn Stuck In My Teeth

0012 When I was twelve our Orillia peewee baseball team beat all comers, from little towns to big cities, and we won the all-Ontario championship. The following year, Orillia put on a Sports Celebrity dinner and our team and some successful minor hockey teams were invited and we accepted trophies and such from the celebrities –  like baseball legend Sal Maglie, hockey star Andy Bathgate, goalie great Roger Crozier, all-star fooball player Garney Henley, and champion boxer Carmen Basilio.

I’m in the bottom row, third from the right in the baseball picture, and Ricky Ley, who eventually played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New England Whalers, and Team Canada ’74, is in the hockey photo, bottom row, third from left with the “A” on his sweater. The Whalers actually retired Rick Ley’s sweater in Hartford and it’s hanging from the rafters there.

Ken McDonald, who was the local radio guy, was the master of ceremonies, and he eventually changed his name to Jiggs McDonald and became an iconic play-by-play broadcaster for the inaugural Los Angeles Kings, and later the Atlanta Flames.

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