Kukla's Korner Hockey
WITH 11 STANLEY CUPS AND 513 NHL GOALS BETWEEN THEM, WALLY STANOWSKI, MILT SCHMIDT AND THE LATE ELMER LACH BELONG TO AN ERA OF PRO HOCKEY NEARLY LOST TO LIVING MEMORY.
BY BRETT POPPLEWELL,
SOME PEOPLE—doctors primarily, like the ones who brought Wally Stanowski back to life after his pulse flatlined a few years ago—might look at a 95-year-old with a water gun in his hands and a briarwood pipe dangling from his mouth as something of a medical anomaly. But the raspy-voiced, wispy-haired man with the staggered gait is more than just a curiosity, Stanowski is the oldest surviving Toronto Maple Leaf and New York Ranger, two titles he never wished for but now hopes to maintain for as long as possible.
Though he struggles to raise his left arm above his chin, hears poorly, has a pacemaker and wishes his gnarled hands worked like they used to, he doesn’t complain, not even when he’s interrupted from his lunch—a pastrami sandwich with a side of slaw. Stanowski, who was born when Robert Borden was prime minister, left Depression-era Manitoba and joined the Maple Leafs shortly after Hitler invaded Poland. He’s a man of simple tastes. He prefers plain tobacco to the flavoured stuff and enjoys the musical accompaniment of Bing Crosby while he works through a 1,000-piece puzzle.
His wisdom is terse yet revealing.
On the stacks of National Geographic he keeps by his bed: “There’s a lot of information in there.”
His secret to longevity: “Lots of beer and a good woman.”
On pigeons: “They’re the reason I carry a water gun.”
And modern hockey: “It’s terrible.”
continued at Sportsnet...
from Geoff Kirbyson of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Two of Terry Sawchuk's sons fought back tears as they touched the goalie mask their late father wore in his last game more than four decades ago.
Jerry Sawchuk, 60, and Terry Sawchuk, 51, were just kids when their legendary father died in the spring of 1970, so the pilgrimage they're taking to his birthplace this weekend is both educational and emotional.
After arriving in Winnipeg Friday morning to participate in the filming of a documentary on their dad, they stopped by the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1982. One of the Hall's prized possessions is the bare-bones mask -- which bears no resemblance to the facial protection in today's NHL -- he wore late in his career.
"We just touched the mask. It was very emotional," said Jerry Sawchuk. "Both of us looked at each other and said, 'do you want to touch it?' and we did. To think dad had worn that..."
"It was a bonding moment," echoed the younger Terry Sawchuk.
There will be many more such moments this weekend as they visit their father's boyhood home and stomping grounds, including Strathcona School and the Terry Sawchuk Arena.
Earlier in the season, Gordie Howe was the recipient of a high stick from Stan Mikita...
from Tom DeLisle at DetroitAthletic.com,
... Howe and Mikita finally pulled apart as they slowly made their way to the Wings blue line, badly trailing the play — which was now zooming around the Chicago net. All eyes were on the puck flying around at the other end … including Howe’s, and Mikita’s, the fans’, and — Gordie noted –the referee’s. Number Nine, who had waited patiently for months, seized his opportunity. Slowly putting one glove under his opposite arm, and carefully withdrawing his hand … he cocked his bulging fist, pulling it back about six inches … then proceeded to land a lightning bolt –a quick but exceedingly powerful punch to the prominent and scrawny Adam’s Apple of Mr. Mikita, who was skating at his side.
Down went Stanley.
When play was finally whistled dead in the Chicago end, all eyes returned back up ice to behold the Blackhawk’s young #21 trying — of all strange things — to crawl on his hands and knees towards the Chicago bench. He was having a bad time getting there. In fact, he was barely progressing at all. Crawling? There’s no crawling in hockey. Further in the distance, the nonchalant #9 of the Red Wings was casually heading to the Red Wings bench when he too looked back, and saw poor Stanley in his predicament. Howe joined officials and Mikita’s teammates, skating over to investigate his collapse.
Mikita seemed in shock. Trying to rise, and falling again … he was unable to tell his teammates what had happened to him. He had been skating easily along, and the lights just went out. His legs were wobbly, and his voice didn’t work. The players slowly slid him, bent over, towards the Chicago bench. Ever the good Samaritan, old Gord offered what little consolation he could muster.
“Hey Stan,” Howe said to the bedazzled Blackhawk, who peered back at him with mismatched eyes … “did you get the number of that truck that hit you?”
from Stan Fischler at The Hockey News,
The 1950 semifinal between Toronto and Detroit ranks among the most intense post-season series in NHL history. This was due to Gordie Howe’s near death after an alleged butt-end. “L’Affaire Howe” ignited one of the longest-running hates in the game: Detroit GM Jack Adams vs. Toronto captain Ted ‘Teeder’ Kennedy. The primary witness was Toronto defenseman Gus Mortson who was there when the blood feud started and there again eight years later when Adams bitterly reaffirmed it to Mortson who had by then become a Red Wing.
Adams’ hatred for the Maple Leafs was already deep rooted and understandable by the time the 1950 playoffs began. After all, Toronto had won the previous three Cups, including a sweep of Detroit in the 1949 final. But now it was a year after that debacle and, led by Howe, the Wings were stronger than ever. “We can do it this year,” Adams boasted prior to the opening game. “We’ve got the team this year.”
And so they did, primarily because Howe had blossomed into a star, patrolling right wing on Detroit’s Production Line with captain Sid Abel at center and Ted Lindsay on the left side. But when the Leafs went up 4-0 in the opener at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium few expected what Toronto author Jack Batten described as “one of the most infamous and controversial events” in NHL history.
At twenty-five minutes past two this morning, a bushy-haired blonde veteran of hockey, Hector Kilrea, a sturdy, scarlet-clad form wearing the white emblem of Detroit Red Wings, went pounding tirelessly down the battle-scarred, deep-cut Forum ice, trying to pilot a puck that was bobbling crazily over the rough trail, almost out of control.
It looked like another of the endless unfinished plays – when suddenly, in shot the slim form of a player, who through this long, weary tide of battle that ebbed and flowed had been almost unnoticed. He swung his stick at the bobbling puck, the little black disc straightened away, shot over the foot of Lorne Chabot, bit deeply into the twine of the Montreal Maroon cage.
And so Modere Bruneteau, clerk in a Winnipeg grain office, leaped to fame as the player who ended the longest game on professional hockey record.
-Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette & Hockey Inside/Out. Stubbs re-created the longest game in NHL history, which went into 6 overtime periods.
The game 'started' 78 years ago tonight.
I am going to assume most of you were not around to see this great rivalry take shape.
Sit back and enjoy this 3 1/2 minute video touching highlighting some of the games these two teams played.
from Steve Ludzik of the Niagara Falls Review,
With the present battle over the NHL collection plate, which has left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths, I would like to whisk you back to a time when we played hockey for fun. I'll call it “old school.”
With apologies to Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr – you don’t get it, and you never will.
You know you are ''old school '' if you can remember:
- When the rink boards were clutterless and free of advertising, without logos and eye-popping promotions that peddle everything from Viagra to Versace;
- A black eye was a badge of honour, and stitches made you look rough and tough at school;
- Skates were made of kangaroo leather, and the best skate was Tackaberry's, later shortened to Tacks. They took a good month to get worked in;
- Tendon guards (two loopholes from which dangled two five-inch strings) and tied up in front of your shin pad;
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette at Canada.com,
Hall of Fame defenceman Bill Gadsby has lived a quiet, uneventful life of 85 years.
Unless, of course, you consider that in 1939, as a 12-year-old, the Calgary native was a lifeboat survivor of a wartime Nazi German submarine’s torpedo sinking of the British ocean liner S.S. Athenia, bound for Montreal from Glasgow. Of 1,418 on board, 117 perished at sea about 400 kilometres northwest of the coast of Ireland.
Or perhaps that Gadsby successfully battled polio while playing in the National Hockey League.
How about that he had an unofficial NHL Original Six record of roughly 650 stitches sewn into his face during a 20-year career with Chicago, New York and Detroit, his wife, Edna, some nights removing them in the kitchen with junk-drawer scissors?
Or even that the first of four daughters born to Gadsby and Edna was once unexpectedly babysat in a Chicago tavern by small-time hoodlum Matty Capone — whose brother, Al, was a gangster of considerably more repute.
Budd Lynch does a great job with the highlights of the Final between Montreal and Detroit. Stars from both sides and Curty Gowdy too.
Go way back (even before my time) and enjoy some old time hockey and even some back and forth talk about the handshake after the Wings won the Cup.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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