Tag Archives: Buffalo Bisons

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.

Don’s Premature Obituary

Recently I wrote about John “Chick” Webster, who played 14 games for the Rangers in ’49-50 and which can be seen here – Chick Webster.

Today it’s about his brother Don.

Don Webster, although a minor leaguer for most of his career, suited up for 27 regular season and 5 playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1943-44, and as far as I know, he came out unscathed.

It was the following year, while with the Hershey Bears, when he almost died after being checked by the Buffalo Bisons’ Roger Leger, whose stick fractured and went up into Don’s abdomen. (Leger played for the Habs from 1946 to 1950).

As doctors worked on Don, reporters scrambled and wrote two stories – one if he lived and one if he died. Thankfully he lived, although sixteen pieces of stick were removed from his innards.

After Don recovered, he was given a copy of his obituary, which must have been a strange sensation to say the least.

Doctors got all but one piece, which was eventually found and taken out more than twenty years later in California where Don had retired to, and where he would eventually pass away in 1978.

Thanks to Don’s nephew Rob Webster for the pics and info.

Below, Don second from left.

Don Webster

dons injury 005

dons injury 007

Brothers John and Don in 1975

dons injury 002

Ron And Dennis’ Excellent Adventure

The other day the phone rang and it was my old friend Ron Clarke, and although he lives in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, he was in Vancouver visiting his 34 year old daughter who has terminal lung cancer.

Ron and I go back further than any other of my other friends as we were childhood buddies and schoolmates and we played road hockey and  held on to bumpers of cars and got free rides as the unsuspecting drivers made their way through snowy streets. He and I traded hockey cards, smoked our first cigarettes together, went through minor hockey, and he started hanging around with a girl in grade seven and ended up marrying her after they dated for about ten years.

Ron and I went our separate ways because he was a straight-laced guy who wanted no part of what was happening with the counter-culture in the 1960’s, and I was the opposite. But we always remained friends over the years anyway.

After talking to Ron, I remembered a time when we were 12 year old altar boys and one of the priests was not only the big shot priest, the Monsignor, but he also somehow had a connection to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It might have something to do with St. Michael’s College in Toronto but I’m not sure. 

Monsignor Lee asked Ron and I one day if we’d like to go to Peterborough for the day and visit the Leafs in training camp, and off we went. Turns out Monsignor Lee had more than just a slight connection with the Leafs. It was almost like he was part of them.

In the afternoon, we had dinner with the team, for gawd’s sakes, although the players, Keon, Horton, Mahovlich, Baun, Pulford and the rest were on the other side of the room. Ron and I sat at a table with King Clancy and Jim Gregory, and the two of them, with the Monsignor, told old stories about when they did this and when they did that, and although I don’t recall any of the conversations, I can still picture  Clancy being really funny and Jim Gregory doing most of the talking.

Later on, we had primo seats at the Peterborough arena to see the Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks play an exhibition game and we went down to the boards and got Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita’s autographs.

Then, back to Orillia we went, an hour away.

Back to the present. I spoke briefly on the phone with Ron’s daughter, Jocelyne, and I told her she was going to beat her lung cancer. She said that’s not what any of her doctor’s have told her.

Addendum:

Ron and I also went to Barrie at about the same age as when we went to Peterborough, and he and I helped the AHL Buffalo Bisons trainer and stood behind the bench as stick boys for an exhibition game between the Bisons and Rochester Americans. Don Cherry played for Rochester but it didn’t matter at that time, (I only know because I still have the lineup sheet), and the only players who made an impact on me where Gilles Marotte, Billy Dea, and Fred Stanfield.

I also remember Ron and I coming home from playing hockey at the arena in Orillia and noticed the Habs-Leafs on TV in someone’s living room. So we sat outside the window and watched the game without the people knowing.

His Dad Was………

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. But the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal, no assists, and collected 31 penalty minutes.

Who was the father, what team did he play for, and when?

(In the article it also mentions that John French, who would eventually play for the New England Whalers, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scored for the Imperials in the squirt division. But that has nothing to do with the quiz.)

The Search For Tim Daly Brings Larry Wilson

I dug this out of a box only because I was looking for something else and good old Larry Wilson jumped out instead of Tim Daly, legendary trainer of both the Toronto St. Pats and the newborn Toronto Maple Leafs. So I’ll continue my hunt for Tim Daly’s autograph which I have somewhere, but in the meantime…….

This is Larry Wilson, not exactly a household name. But he was a big hockey man, and he fathered someone you probably know of.

My friend and I took a 30 minute bus ride to Barrie from Orillia to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bison and Rochester Americans. We got there very early and the Buffalo trainer let us move sticks around, hang out in the dressing room, and stand with him off to the side behind the bench. Number 2 on defence for the Rochester Americans was Don Cherry. Number 9 for Buffalo was Wilson. I have him penned in on my program at the bottom.

Larry Wilson, in a career that spanned the late 1940’s to 1970, was a centreman with both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks, but he spent 12 years with the Buffalo Bisons. And at some some point he fathered the present-day coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ron Wilson.

The Buffalo Sabres Are Almost A Canadian Team, Eh?

The thing about the Buffalo Sabres, who the Canadiens play Friday night in their season opener, is that for the most part, they’ve been fun to watch over the years, with the French Connection, Scotty Bowman, Punch Imlach, Tim Horton, and that little pipsqueak Daniel Briere, all doing their thing, many of them, or most of them, at the old Memorial Auditorium.

 

And did I mention the French Connection?

 

But then there’s the Sabre sweater, which looks like it came from George Jetson’s closet.

 

Certain teams must sometimes ask themselves the question – what was so wrong with the original sweater?

 

I’d probably like the Sabres slightly more if they were in the west instead of the east. But because they’re in the east, they’re going to be trying their best to be right up there in the Eastern Conference standings, which means they’re gonna try and beat the Habs.

 

And I have no time for such attitude.

 

The city of Buffalo itself might as well be in Canada. It’s close to the Canadian border, just down the road from Niagara Falls, and their snowstorms are as good or better than ours. I don’t know if folks there say “eh” but it wouldn’t surprise me. And they have a rich sporting history, with major and minor league baseball teams over the years, and of course the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.

  

And Buffalo had the Buffalo Bisons, a great American Hockey League team for years (1940-1970) but got bumped aside when the Sabres came into being. So Buffalo is a good, solid hockey town. How can it not be, with all those snowbanks, ice, and chicken (Buffalo) wings?

 

 Like I said, it might as well be Canadian.

 

Montreal needs this opening game. A nice jump out of the gate would be good, get the ball rolling, grab a quick two points, and then head up to Toronto to play the Leafs, a team which needs no introducton. They don’t deserve it.

 

So the Canadiens season begins on Friday, and it’s about time. Summers are nice and all that, but the road to the Stanley Cup trumps all the beaches, canoes, and frisbee-throwing out there.

 

And they have to start by beating those Sabres, eh?  

Again, When You Least Expect It, More Fascinating Facts!

mtl_2007.jpgmtl_white.jpgsweater5.gifsweater4.gifsweater3.gifsweater2.gifsweater11.gif

Fascinating Fact # 1   I owned a sports bar for awhile in Powell River, and during this time the infamous Hanson Brothers came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, they came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

Fascinating Fact #2  A small scrap of paper signed by Bill Barilko, who scored the Cup-winning goal for Toronto against Montreal in 1951 and died later that year in a plane crash in northern Ontario, recently sold on ebay for $750.

Fascinating Fact #3   Frank Mahovlich came into my pub after an NHL Oldtimer’s game with his niece, who lives in Powell River. I had to tell customers who clamoured all over him to cool it so the guy could eat his meal.

Fascinating Fact #4   When I was 12, my pee wee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers was the umpire.

Facsinating Fact # 5   Years ago, when I was about 11, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, then, because he was in a deep discussion with some other guy, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my older sister had to get it for me.

Fascinating Fact #6   Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Fascinating Fact # 7   Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

Facinating Fact # 8    I collect old Montreal Canadiens kid’s wool sweaters. Not like some of the old ones in the photos above as these are extremely early Habs sweaters,  but like the one in my photo at the top right, and other’s similar to that. They’re all from the 1940’s, ’50’s, and ’60’s but I’m still looking for ones from the ’30’s and ’20’s. I saw some in old Eaton’s catalogues recently, so I know they were around at that time. But are they around now?

Fascinating Fact #9  In the early ’60’s when I was about 13 or so, my buddy and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave us both sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester.

The final Fascinating Fact goes to Toe Blake, who said this: “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

(For more delicious and delightful facts, just click on ‘Fascinating Facts’ over in the category section and get a whole bunch of stuff.)