Tag Archives: Eddie Shore

Papa Got A Brand New Team

I’m a Habs fan, born and raised in Orillia, Ont, which is Leafs country I suppose, considering it’s only an hour and a half north of Toronto. I’m a fan and my old man had a lot to do with it.

My dad, who served in the Canadian army overseas in WWll, was a hockey fan most of his life, although his enthusiasm waned as he aged, which I understand more and more. He followed the Leafs when he was young, and once wrote a letter in the 1930s to Ace Bailey, who lay in a hospital after Boston’s Eddie Shore clubbed him over the head, ending his career, and nearly killing him.

Bailey’s wife wrote back and thanked him.

Later though, my dad began to change his mind about his team. The Toronto Star and Telegram both plastered their papers with Leafs stories and my dad would complain. It was always “Leafs, Leafs, Leafs” he used to say. Broadcaster Foster Hewitt was the definitive homer, and this rubbed dad the wrong way. And pops was a quiet fellow and wasn’t crazy about the brash, loud, and arrogant Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

In the 1950s, with television entering households, it was usually only Leafs game shown, and when the Montreal Canadiens played in Toronto, my dad liked what he saw on his TV. There was the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Plante. Magical names. Stanley Cups began to be won by the Habs on a regular basis, and the Leafs just kept plodding along. The Canadiens had something the Leafs didn’t.

When I was a boy he started a big Montreal Canadiens scrapbook for me. He helped me write fan letters to the Rocket, and at one point, Rocket sent me a Christmas card. He took me to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of times, and once, when we were really early and stood at the gate, the Canadiens players walked right by us.

He bought me a hockey book for Christmas which he mailed to Montreal asking for autographs, and it was mailed back signed by the entire 1957-58 Habs – Richard, Plante, coach Toe Blake, Beliveau, Geoffrion etc, with Doug Harvey’s as the only signature missing. Later when we went to a game at the Gardens, he brought the book with him, took it down to the Montreal dressing room corridor, saw Toe Blake standing there, and asked Blake if he would take the book into the dressing room and get Harvey to sign it.

Believe it not, Blake did just that.

Thanks dad.

Chick Webster

Yes, yes, he’s wearing a Rangers uniform. Please don’t hold that against him.

Chick

Over the past few months I’ve chatted and exchanged emails with 93-year old John “Chick” Webster and his son Rob, both of whom live up in the North Bay area. Serious hockey country. Cold winters.

Chick played just 14 games in the NHL, all with the Rangers during the 1949-50 season, but was a solid minor leaguer in the EHL, AHL, PCHL, and WHL.

An example of a fine player who couldn’t crack the bigs because in those days, only 120 could.

Real nice fellow, who says he’s not like so many others of his generation who insist the game was better way back when. It’s great now and he enjoys watching, he says. But if he and others shot the puck in the way they do now, they’d be benched. “We had to carry it in, there was none of that”.

A guy who played hockey when the pay was low and you didn’t shoot it in.

Chick was playing for Baltimore in the Eastern Hockey League in 1940-41 and decided to enlist. “I figured the war would go on for a few months, maybe a year, and then I’d come right back and carry on.

Five years later he finally got back to Baltimore.

Chick also played for the notorious Eddie Shore while with Syracuse, and says he was a terrible boss, which is also what anyone who ever played for Shore says. “Shore said we should never take time off, and if there was no ice available, we were supposed to practice on the streets. I ended up quitting.”

He would soon have a cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks of the old Western Hockey League, and ended up playing senior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie of the Northern Ontario Hockey league.

It’s also a family affair. Chick’s brother Don played for the Leafs in 1943-44. Rob’s nephew Jason Lafreniere was a Nordiques, a Ranger, and a Tampa Bay Lightning. And Jason’s dad helped win the Memorial Cup for the Hamilton Red Wings back in 1962.

Good people, these Websters. I should ask Chick who he’s cheering for in the Habs-Rangers series.

 

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.

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

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Dad, What The…?

My father was a Habs fan as far back as I can remember, but from reading his journal he once wrote about his childhood, it turns out he was a Leafs fan when he was a kid. He changed later on, and I wish he was alive so I could ask him about it.

All I know is, he used to complain about all things Leafs, including Foster and Bill Hewitt and of course Punch Imlach and Conn Smythe, and he’d go on about the sports section of the paper which was all Leafs, all the time, which, except for him, is understandable considering it was a Toronto paper.

But thankfully somewhere along the way, he became a Habs fan. If I had grown up a Leafs fan, I might have had to shoot myself.

Here’s a section of his journal:

“The Toronto Star used to come up on the train the day after it was published and as a rule, we could usually come up with the three cents it cost. We didn’t have a radio but I became a Toronto Maple Leafs fan through reading the sports pages of this paper. Almost every day of the hockey season, the sports section would carry a drawing of a player and these I would cut and paste in a scrapbook.

It was around 1932 when one of the Leaf players, Ace Bailey, was injured in a game against the Boston Bruins. While he was in hospital, I wrote him a letter and in due time received an answer from his wife along with an autographed picture of him. I dare say, I must have been the proudest kid in Trout Creek and I like to think I was the envy of all the other boys in town.”

 

 

Kouli Kountry

From the incredible eBay pages of Kouli the Greek, a fellow in Vancouver with a massive collection of photos listed to sell, we have –

Jesse Owens, George Hainsworth, Rocky Marciano and Archie Moore, Bobby Clarke, Eddie Shore, the 1936-37 Hawks, Joe Lewis and Abe Simon, Bert Gardiner, Jackie Robinson and ’53 Dodgers, Ted Williams and Bobby Hull, and Ted Williams and a kid.

Jesse Owens

hainsworth

Marciano Moore

clarke

Shore

36-37

$(KGrHqV,!ikFBIYpquTFBQ(kUGg3q!~~60_57

Bert Gardiner 1941

Robinson and '53 Dodgers

Williams Hull

Williams

Emelin On Board

Alexei Emelin (pronounced Ye-mel-in) has signed a two-year deal with the Canadiens, so look out enemy players with your heads down, our super-strong d-man is going to make you see stars.

It goes without saying that we need this bruiser in the lineup, and if we would have let him slip away, I’d be picketing the Bell Centre. He adds a dimension many teams don’t enjoy – a rockin’, sockin’ hitter that harkens back to Eddie Shore and Bobby Baun. A defenceman who punishes, crunches bones, and does so in mostly legal fashion.

Emelin makes forwards rushing toward Carey Price more tentative, more nervous, more prone to giving the puck up. And if they try to slip by, it’s a freight train moving in.

I haven’t heard just yet what the amount of money this Russian signed for, but whatever it is, it’s worth it and more. This is the kind of defenceman every team needs, and we’ve got a beauty.

I’m thrilled that Emelin signs. I just wish it was four or five years instead of two.

 

Old-Time Hockey – And I Mean Old

1929 was the time of Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Ace Bailey, Aurele Joliat, Dit Clapper, Lester Patrick, and so many greats of the game.

It was a ten-team league at this time – Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, the Montreal Maroons, and the NY Americans in the Canadian Division, and Boston, the Rangers, the Detroit Cougars, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the American Division.

This minute and a half home video from 1929 features Chicago and Toronto, and is a fascinating little look at the good old hockey game from so long ago. (And back then, it was the Chicago Black Hawks, not the Chicago Blackhawks. The name was altered in the 1980’s.)

And the ice cleaners at the end of the clip are something to behold.

Josh Gorges Has A Really Hard Head

Josh Gorges is with the team in Philadelphia, according to the Montreal Gazette. Hurray for Josh Gorges!

This is a guy who would have fit in in any decade. He could’ve played along side Eddie Shore, Cal Gardner, Doug Harvey, Sprague Cleghorn, Scott Stevens and any other bruiser at any time. And he’s not even a big guy.  He took a hundred mile an hour piece of hard rubber off the old noggin, and a few hours later he’s walking through an airport.