Category Archives: HISTORY


by Ron Spence

Senior and minor league hockey have experienced a reversal of fortune over the past eighty years. The B.C. Amateur Hockey Association was formed in 1919 and minor hockey was given a back seat. There were a limited number of covered arenas and it was reasoned that transportation was too slow and expensive for the kids to travel to playoffs. So minor hockey wasn’t encouraged.

Even Junior hockey was supported largley because of the efforts of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. They were farsighted enough to realize that adult amateur and professional hockey needed a foundation of junior prospects. So during the 1925-26 season the CAHA gave the B.C.A.H.A. $200 to promote Junior Hockey.

B.C. had thirteen junior teams five years later, but the CAHA wasn’t happy with B.C.’s minor hockey progress and threatened to cut the Junior grant. So the BCAHA started registering Midget and Juvenile teams that 1932-33 season. There were four Juvenile sides by the 1934-35 season, and the CAHA alotted another $500.

Then minor hockey received a grass roots boost. New Westminster built the Queen’s Park Arena prior to the 1937-38 season and formed a Pee Wee Hockey Association. Two years later the Vancouver Minor Hockey Association was also formed. It became known as the PNE Minor Hockey and Hastings Minor Hockey Association and is today called the Vancouver Hastings Minor Hockey Association.

B.C.’s minor programs were further promoted when trophies were donated. The Cromie Cup was first given to the Midget champions the 1937-38 season. By then there were four Midget teams and nine Juniors but the Juveniles had fallen off to just one team.

Minor hockey grew and the next year there were two additional Junior sides, a second Juvenile squad and seven more Midget teams. The Monarch Life Cup was awarded that season to the Juveniles’ champion.

Following the war the BCAHA started registering Bantam teams but discouraged travel to tournaments (There would be no Bantam playoffs until 1960-61.). The association also discouraged inter-provincial playdowns, reasoning that that playoffs would interfere with the players’ schooling.

Minor hockey received a further boost in February, 1954 when the BCAHA promoted “Minor Hockey Week” (Two years later they presented a resolution to the CAHA to have Minor Hockey Week recognized across Canada and later convinced Imperial Oil to promote Minor Hockey Week on Hockey Night in Canada.). The BCAHA kept the ball rolling when they started handing out Minor Hockey awards in 1958-59.

Pee Wee hockey was finally recognized by the BCAHA in 1955-56 and considered a division two years later. The Pee Wees were allowed district playdowns, but had to wait until 1969-70 for semi-finals, or finals, because the Pee Wees were again considered too young (The older Bantams were allowed to compete for a B.C. championship the 1960-61 season.).

During the 1950s the BCAHA introduced unique legislation. The Trail Minor Hockey Association sponsored a resolution – the 1954-55 season – banning body checking in Minor Hockey. The logic was that players would become better playmakers and stickhandlers if they weren’t concerned with bodychecking. This rule lasted until 1966.

From the late 1950s, until the early 1970s, minor hockey grew in leaps and bounds. By 1960-61 there were 108 Minor hockey teams in the BCAHA and there were 8,000 B.C. minor leaguers playing the next year.

During the 1960s the reversal of fortune was apparent. The BCAHA had an enrollment of 4809 Pee Wees, 2169 Bantams, 1444 Midgets, 621 Juveniles, 294 Juniors, and 224 Intermediates. But there were only 67 Seniors.

Minor hockey was declining by 1980, however. There had been 52,000 players in 1974 but only 36,000 in 1980. Reasons given were: Equipment was getting too expensive; The kids had other interests; Televised games had given hockey a negative image; And there was too much of a focus on the allstars, rather than the rest of the players.

By the late 1980s, however, minor hockey was growing once again. The Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association doubled their enrollment from 1989 to 1998. There was even a shortage of ice time for many minor league players.

But this time it wasn’t because the Senior leagues were excluding the minor hockey players. The reversal of fortune had taken place.


by Ron Spence

Take soccer’s better behaved hooligans – not the burn them down and bag their ashes ones – and you’ll have baseball’s kranks from 125 years ago.

They got drunk during games, threw their containers at – and ran onto the fields and assaulted – rivals, plus the umps.

And, of course they always had a lot to say.

The press wrote that: “kranks in the bleaching boards think they know more about the sport than do its participants.”

Bleaching boards was the precursor of today’s bleachers, and referred  to people bleaching in the sun.

The first baseball book was called The Kranks: His Language and What It Means and was written by Thomas Lawson.


In 1562, a krank was an “inaccessible hole or crevice.”

By 1594 the word had been elevated to “a twist or fanciful turn of speech.”

Then, two centuries plus later – in 1821 – a krank was “cross-tempered, irritable.”

And a decade after that – 1833 – a crank was an irrationally fixated person, who like a barrel organ, kept playing the same tune over and over again.

Kranking it out so to speak….

Then the November 8, 1906 edition of Nature magazine wrote that: “A crank is defined as a man who cannot be turned.”

By this time, kranks were being called fans, and the phrase “turning a crank” was being applied to turning a motor over until it started (1908).

Kranks had been called “fans” since the mid-1880s and continued to think that they knew more about the sport than its participants.




Summation of The Kranks: His Language and What It Means, courtesy of  American Baseball: From Gentleman’s Sport to the Commissioner System, by David Quentin Voigt.


by Ron Spence

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm,” Winston Churchill wrote.

Seven of the thirty coaches – who started the 2008-09 season – were ousted from their NHL teams – and are enthusiastically looking for another failure to start.

They were:


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Two others were dismissed at the end of the season:


This might seem to be a record number of flashing axes, but during the 1981-82 campaign ten coaches were fired by – or retired from – just 21 teams  (The NBA fired 9 coaches over the past season, which equalled their 2004-05 record.).


The Colorado Rockies fired Bert Marshall (3-17-4), and replaced him with his assistant, Marshall Johnston (15-32-9). The following – 1982-83 – season, Johnston was replaced by Billy MacMillan (17-49-14) when the Rockies became the New Jersey Devils.

Detroit’s Wayne Maxner (18-39-12), was replaced by Billy Dea (3-8-0). Dea, in turn was replaced by Nick Polano (21-44-15) at the following summer.

Hartford’s Larry Kish (12-32-5) was replaced by Larry Pleau (21-41-18).

L.A.’s Parker MacDonald  (13-24-5) retired, and was replaced by Don Perry (11-17-10), who coached the Kings again following campaign (27-41-12).

The Washington Capitals replaced Gary Green  (1-12-0), with Roger Crozier (0-1-0) for one game, and then with Bryan Murray who went (25-28-13). Murray turned the Caps around during the 1982-83 season (39-25-16).

The Blackhawks fired Keith Magnuson (18-24-10), and G.M. Bob Pulford (12-14-2) replaced him. The following season Orval Tessier became the Chicago coach (47-23-10).

St. Louis fired Red Berenson (28-34-6), and hired Emile Francis (4-6-2).  The Cat went  (10-19-3), and was replaced by Barclay Plager (15-21-12) in 1982-83.

Harry Neale (26-33-16), was suspended and replaced by Roger Neilson (4-0-1). Neale continued as Vancouver’s GM in 82-83 and Neilson stayed on as the nucks’ coach (30-35-15).


The teams noted above were playing below .500 when their coaches were terminated.

Two teams were playing above .500 when they fired their coaches – because of their higher expectations.

Philadelphia dumped Pat Quinn (34-29-9), and Bob McCammon took over (4-2-2). McCammon remained during 1982-83 (49-23-8), and turned the Flyers around.

Jimmy Roberts (21-16-8), was given the Sabre by Scotty Bowman (18-10-7), who continued to coach Buffalo the following season (38-29-13). Bowman relinquished his coaching position on four occasions and later took it back. Then, during the 1986-87 season, he was relieved of all responsibilities by the Buffalo owners.

One coach was released at the end of the season. Calgary’s Al MacNeil (29-34-17) was replaced by “Badger Bob” Johnson (32-34-14).

Toronto’s Mike Nykoluk had a brutal season (20-44-16) in 1981-82, but wasn’t fired – by Harold Ballard – and continued to coach in 1982-83 (28-40-12).

Pittsburgh’s Eddie Johnston (31-36-13) stayed on and the Pens went  (18-53-9) in 1982-83. He was replaced by Lou Angotti whose Pens fell further (16-58-6).


The Islanders’ Al Arbour, of course, kept his job and went (42-26-12) in 82-83. Glen Sather was just starting to build the Oilers and went (47-21-12) and Montreal’s Bob Berry went (42-24-14) in 1982-83.

Gerry Cheevers kept his job in Boston, Glen Sonmor his position in Minnesota, and Herb Brooks his job in New York. Michel Bergeron stayed in Quebec and Tom Watt in Winnipeg.

Watt was axed part way through the 1983-84 season (6-13-2) and came to the Canucks a year and a half later. He would last two seasons and be instrumental in the trading away of Cam Neely.


by Ron Spence

You want to be an NHL head coach.

And you’d really like to have that Stanley Cup resting in your living room – at least for a while.

Even though there’s a stranger sitting – in your favourite reclining chair – guarding it, while you’re entertaining that brother-in-law – and his friends – you can’t stand.

So, what’s the secret?

Is there a template for success?

Well, if you’ve been an NHL player, and management believes that you have promise, you might be named an Assistant Coach. That could be step number one.

Of those who have won the Cup since 1997, two have followed that route.

Larry Robinson was hired as an assistant by the New Jersey Devils in 1993. And Randy Carlyle advanced in the Winnipeg Jets’ organization, becoming an assistant coach before the 1995–96 season.

Larry stayed with the Devils, was named head coach and won the Cup in 2000, and Carlyle raised the Trophy seven years later, with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Some career minor leaguers have started their coaching careers in the bottom professional leagues – mostly where they have played, because that’s where they’re known.

And two of them went on to win Stanley Cups.

Peter Laviolette was first a head coach of the Wheeling Nailers, in the East Coast Hockey League. He had played ten years in the minors, including a 12 game cup of coffee with the Rangers during the 1988–89 campaign.

John Tortorella played for Salem State College, the University of Maine, and in Sweden, before finishing in the lowly Atlantic Coast Hockey League.

With his third ACHL team, the Virginia Lancers, Torts was promoted to both the GM and head coach from 1986 until 1988.

Tortorella had his name engraved on Lord Stanley in 2004, with the rest of his Tampa Bay Lightning, and Laviolette with his Carolina Hurricanes two years later.

Dan Blysma was a variation on Robinson/Carlyle and Laviolette/Tortorella.

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He played nine NHL seasons, and began his coaching career as an assistant with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL. After one season, he became an NHL assistant with the New York Islanders. He joined the Penguins organization as an assistant to Todd Richards in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and when Richards became an assistant with the San Jose Sharks, Blysma became Pittsburgh’s AHL head coach. He was Wilkes-Barre Scranton’s head coach for less than one season when he was promoted to the Penguins, and won the Stanley Cup.

Five of the last eleven Cup winners (There was no Cup awarded in 2005 because the season was canceled.), started their significant part of their coaching careers in Canadian junior hockey.

Scotty Bowman, who won two (1998 and 2002) of his nine Cups over the past decade, started coaching with the Ottawa Junior Canadians in the Quebec Junior Hockey League, and later the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey Association (This of course was during the days when most junior clubs were NHL farm teams – the Petes belonged to Montreal.).

And, Bowman might have joined Robinson and Carlyle at the top of this list, but his playing career ended after a head injury.

Pat Burns coached the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Bob Hartley the Junior ‘A’ Hawkesbury Hawks, before the Laval Titans of the QMJHL. Neither had much playing experience, Burns appearing in three games with the OHL’s London Knights.

Hartley won the Cup in 2001, and Burns followed in Robinson’s footsteps with the Devils, two years later.

Out in western Canada, Ken Hitchcock started coaching Midget Triple ‘A’ in Edmonton, before moving to the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.

And, Mike Babcock coached the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, after three seasons of leading Red Deer College in Alberta.

Hitchcock had never played to any degree, but Babcock starred for Saskatoon and Kelowna in the WHL, and later the universities of Saskatoon and McGill (1983-87).

Hitchcock led the Dallas Stars to the Cup in 1999, and Babcock the Red Wings in 2008.

So, there is a path to follow.

You can start coaching midget, like Ken Hitchcock, or Junior A like Bob Hartley, and work your way up to Major Junior.

From there, maybe the East Coast Hockey League, or the American Hockey League, and then the Big Tent.

Of course, you have to be the very best there is, at every level that you coach.

Those guys, who have briefly rested the Stanley Cup on their mantles, have had to create room.

They have other trophies there as well.


“…The talk was about one particular hockey player that had turned heads throughout the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp,”  Jeff Bromley wrote on October 11, 2002. “Fedor Fedorov, Detroit’s superstar Sergei’s younger brother.

In Cranbrook on Wednesday morning the Vancouver Canucks announced that the 6’3″, 220lb forward had made the club and would play alongside Trevor Linden and Jan Hlavac to start the season.



“That’s the best start I can get in the NHL,” said Fedorov. “Playing with veterans is so much easier. Even if I screw-up a little bit those guys will help me out and we’ll go from there.”

“…We certainly congratulate all the guys that did make the team,” said coach Marc Crawford, “especially the newer players, in particular Fedorov and Bryan Allen….

Fedorov, who was originally drafted in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Lightning but re-entered the draft and was selected by the Canucks in the 3rd round (66th overall) in 2001 after failing to sign with the Lightning, was deemed a work in progress when he arrived on the Canucks’ scene last year. Demoted to the AHL’s Moose and the ECHL with what was regarded as an attitude and work ethic problem, Fedorov was essentially forgotten.

In the ECHL the situation didn’t get any better.

“I had to re-adjust completely to my left eye,” said Fedorov after suffering a detached retina while playing with Columbia (S.C.) Inferno of the ECHL and missed most of last season. “The first doctor told me I would never play again. When I got some news that I had 30% recovery, I had some hope. But I was just sitting on my butt for eight months.”

The injury and the time off gave Fedorov a new perspective on life and a new attitude toward realizing his dream of playing in the NHL.

“I think I grew up a little bit over the year and since my injury last year, I’ve tried to be the best I can,” said Fedorov. “Going to the rink every day, working hard and doing my best.”

Marc Crawford is encouraged by Fedorov’s potential but also cautiously optimistic. It is still only days into a very young NHL season.

“Fedorov’s been a nice surprise for us this year,” said Crawford of his newest forward. “The reason that he’s staying is that his contribution offensively has outweighed any risk that we think may be involved with him.”

“You’re always teased by talent at this time of the year and we’re not unlike any team. We look and we say, ok how good of a talent improvement can a player like Fedor, give us? We’re going to be evaluating him on a daily basis but we evaluate the team on a daily basis as it is but we’ll play particularly close attention to Fedor and to his progress and his ability at making strides and moving forward and just improving. He seems like a great kid (and) he’s a nice mix with our group.”

“His personality is a little different from other first-year players we’ve had in the past,” said Crawford, perhaps alluding to the outgoing personality…not usually seem in players one season removed from junior.

“Let’s face it. He’s had an extremely good preseason. He’s had a lot of chances and he’s playing with some confidence right now. We think he’s a nice move for us initially….'”


Note: The key word is “initially.” A good training camp doesn’t necessarily mean a good regular season.


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“It’s September 12, 1999…[and] The team races out with new faces in Steve Kariya and Jarkko Ruutu. However, Crawford and Burke, who have seen Kariya playing with intensity all week in Kamloops, have been caught saying some good words on the 5-foot-7 speedy gonzalez on ice. 
By far Kariya has been the most productive player at camp this season and it is no doubt he will crack the lineup with the Canucks this season…wrote Hockey’s Future.

Although Pre-season continues on for the Canucks, it is now safe to bring out the top 5 selections of rookies from camp:

1) Steve Kariya
Definitely any coaches first choice for top players in camp. Kariya impressed with his speed and showed an ability of overcoming size by taking hits and bounces back and rushes off with the puck. Kariya even looked exceptionally good with Chubarov and Mogilny on a line. Even Mogilny and Kariya being centered by Cassels wouldn’t be a bad combo this season. 
2) Artem Chubarov
3) Jarkko Ruutu
4) Lubomir Vaic

Vaic (pronounced Vice) has skill. Vaic has been nailing the puck with crisp passes and setting up chances down low in front of the net. Keenan didn’t give him the opportunity last year and now Vaic is using every effort he has to impress Crawford, and so far he has done that quite well. 
5) Alfie Michaud
He outworked Kevin Weekes and Garth Snow all during camp but seemed a little puck shy when it came to the real thing in exhibition games. Michaud showed a good presence at camp and should be complimented on his effort, however he will be looking forward to a year in the AHL with Syracuse. However, if Weekes doesn’t cut it this year then [goalie coach] Andy Moog and Marc Crawford may be pulling to make Michaud their “goalie of the future” instead of Kevin Weekes.

There were many disappointments at camp with Bryan Allen, Josh Holden and Peter Schaefer. They were all pretty high on the charts for the Canucks however Allen, being injury prone as he is will need to work on his speed a bit more and will be luck to crack the lineup this year. Josh Holden just isn’t showing his potential, he was drafted in 1996 and still hasn’t pulled through and Canucks management is hoping he will break out as Aucoin did this past season, however things are looking down with Chubarov, Harold Druken, H. Sedin and even Matt Cooke look all prepared to take his place. Definitely Henrik Sedin, and the way Chubarov has been playing in camp, Holden better smarten up. As for Peter Schaefer, he should build on his season last year, because if he doesn’t, Steve Kariya, as short as he is, will make Schaefer look like a sack of potatoes and make himself look like a giant.


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by Ron Spence

Hockey News writer Adam Proteau was taking the NHL owners to task over the NHLPA’s firing of Paul Kelly.

He referred to “…a Goodenowian philosophy from the owners….”

Mr. Proteau is obviously chronologically challenged.

That’s like saying that Roberto Luongo taught Georges Vezina how to play in goal.

Bob Goodenow was mirroring Alan Eagleson who totally mirrored the old Original Six owners.

Those power brokers made Charles Dickens’ villains seem like Mother Theresa.

The Original Six owners controlled their players through C-forms, which their chattels had to sign in order to turn professional.

This dictated where players played and for how much.

Phil Esposito, later a Boston superstar and Tampa Bay GM, was told in the early ‘60s:

“Chicago’s offering you $500 to sign and $3250 for the season. You’d better take it. That’s all Tommy Ivan says you’ll get. If you don’t sign, you won’t play anywhere.”

Gordie Howe said:

“I was sort of a pushover. I used to come into Jack Adams’ office and say, ‘If I’m supposed to be the best player in the league, you can pay me accordingly.’

He’d say he would, and that would be the end of it.

Of course he never did.

Later I found out there were three guys in the organization itself that were making more money than I was.

The only time I ever brought anyone in to help me, it was Ted Lindsay. We were going to negotiate together, but Adams negotiated with us with two words: ‘Get out.'”

Not only were the NHL players poorly paid – they had few options. If they didn’t make their NHL team, they could only hope to be traded. Otherwise, they were buried in the minors.

Former Leaf, Brian Conacher wrote of hockey at this time:

“The name of the game was to keep control of as many players as you could.  Obviously, you couldn’t hurt the Leafs if you were playing for one of their minor pro teams.”

One of the few avenues of escape was waivers.

But, the owners also manipulated that process.

This was evident in February, 1967. Detroit had asked to send 20-year-old Peter Mahovlich to their farm team, without applying for waivers. Then, New York blocked Detroit and the Red Wings in turn blocked the Leafs’ attempt to “farm” John Brenneman.

The result was: two players were sitting in the press box with their meters running. So, the owners quickly agreed to an amendment. The player had to stay in the minors – for the rest of the season.

One reason for the owners’ unity came from the power and control of Big Jim Norris. He owned the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Stadium, and controlling interest in Madison Square Gardens. He also loaned money to Boston – when they were in financial trouble – and thus had control over them.

The only two teams that Norris didn’t control were the Leafs and Habs.

The owners started to lose their power some forty years ago.

And ironically, they were the masters of their own decline.

Prior to the 1967-68 season, the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams and the new American franchises had little access to the predominately Canadian talent pool. So, the NHL had to introduce the universal draft. The result was that NHL teams could no longer control players – from their teenage years until their retirement – through C-forms.

The new franchises south of the border also realized that they had to put a face to their game, and had to promote hockey by using their stars.

This in turn gave players some power, and control.

Then three things happened which really shifted the power: Salaries in other sports started to skyrocket; there were people called “agents” who appeared out of nowhere; and a rival league announced itself.

The World Hockey Association – like the KHL today, offered higher salaries, greater perks, and a second option.

The result? Owners had to raise salaries to keep their players from moving to the rival circuit.

The New York Rangers, for example, gave Vic Hadfield an unprecedented five-year $1 million deal, even though he had two years remaining on his lower paying contract.

In addition, with more money in their pockets, players could now afford to hold out – withdraw their services – and outwait their bosses.

Ironically, the new players’ association was of little use while all of this was happening.

David Cruise and Alison Griffiths wrote in Net Worth:

“Any concession wrung from the NHL owners, was cause to celebrate, but, in light of the players’ real leverage, the advances were pathetic. The much-touted increased minimum wage must have had the owners snorting into their whiskies.”

The NHLPA’s first powerbroker, Alan Eagleson had learned some of the owners’ tactics before he was replaced. His successor had a similar philosophy towards control, but couldn’t hold a candle to those Original Six martinets.


by Ron Spence

The Bowman takeover – with all of its subplots – could only have happened in Chicago.

The big question is whether Dale Tallon will place a curse on the Blackhawks.


One of the highlights of my – sort of – hockey writing career was a lunch I shared with Jim Coleman.

He was a wonderful, crusty old guy who was close to 100-years-old and still went to work every day at the Vancouver Province.

One time he slipped, and broke his hip while climbing into a cab, and that was the beginning of the end.

My favourite Jim Coleman story concerned the Curse of Pete Muldoon.

Chicago had finished the season in 3rd place – with a record of 19-22-3 – and lost in the first round of the 1927 playoffs.

Major McLaughlin – who had named the team after his old regiment, when they had moved over from Portlland, Oregon – thought that his club should have finished in first place.

Coach Pete Muldoon disagreed, and was then  fired.

According to Coleman, who was writing for the Globe and Mail in Toronto in 1943,  Muldoon had yelled, “Fire me, Major, and you’ll never finish first. I’ll put a curse on this team that will hoodo it until the end of time.”

Thus was the start of the Blackhawks’ first curse – which lasted for four decades.


Coleman later admitted that it had been a slow news day, and he had made up the infamous curse.

Had Jim Coleman downed a few cocktails before he thought up the curse? I forgot to ask him, but I’m sure he did.


We  know that firewater was involved in another Blackhawks’ classic.

Chicago was playing for the Stanley Cup against the Maple Leafs – in 1938 – when their goalie Mike Karakas broke his toe and couldn’t return to the nets.

Johnny Gottselig knew minor league – Pittsgburgh – goalie Alfie Moore and went to his house to see if he could play.

His wife told the Blackhawks’ captain that Alfie was tilting a few in a certain Toronto tavern and Gottselig went there and Moore had just left for another bar.



In watering hole number two, Alfie was enjoying himself with four other players, who were also finished for the season.

Alfie was very happy to see Gottselig and asked if he could get him a couple of tickets for that night’s game.

The captain responded that he would get him the best seat in the house.

Alfie ordered one for the road – after the dozen that he’d already downed – and Gottselig took him to the team’s hotel.

The other hawks shook their heads and said Moore was too drunk to play. 

The captain insisted, and they took him to the Gardens, put him under a shower and pumped him full of coffee.  

Moore let in the first shot, but was Georges Vezina for the rest of the contest.

NHL President Frank Calder wouldn’t let Alfie Moore play another game in the series, and Chicago had to call up one of their minor leaguers, Paul Goodman.

Alfie Moore became the first goalie to win both the Memorial (1929 Toronto Marlboros) and Stanley (1938 Chicago Blackhawks) Cups.

The unfortunate ending to this great story is that Moore had his name scribed on the original ring of the Stanley Cup – in 1938 – but when the Cup was redone during the 1957-58 season, his name was left off the new ring.

Alfie Moore lived until 1984 and had enough time to place a curse on the NHL.

But then again, the Blackhawks had given him a  gold watch and $300 for playing in that one game.


by Ron Spence

It was the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and the Panthers wanted to select Alexander Ovechkin, even though his birthday was two days after the cut-off.

The Florida GM claimed that with the addition of the extra days falling on Leap Year, Ovechkin was actually eligible to be drafted that June.

But, the NHL didn’t buy the math, and the Panther’s had to pick another player – at 265th overall.

It was Tanner Glass.


by Ron Spence

Clint Smith passed away last week. He was 95-years-old and had won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1940.

I met with Clint – and interviewed him on a couple of occasions – and we talked about hockey during the 1930s and 1940s.

He called the semi-final series between the Bruins and Rangers – exactly 70 years ago – in 1939, “the toughest series ever played.”

Boston would win the seven game series 4-3, and then beat Toronto 4-1.

One of the highlights of the Bostons vs. Rangers series was a fight between New York’s Muzz Patrick and Eddie “Old Blood ‘n Guts” Shore.

I had asked Clint about this tilt, because I had read conflicting reports.

“With the Boston write-up,” Clint shook his head, “the propaganda had it how Muzz had cross-checked Shore and broke his nose and Muzz didn’t even have a stick.”

“This Phil Watson was an awful needler,” Clint explained, “and he couldn’t speak English too well.”

Jeez, he was fast.  He came up against Shore two or three times and threw ice on him.

‘You God damn old bin haz.  You’re so God‑damned old you got fedders in your skates,’ he’d say.

The next time Watson came down Shore met him at the blue line and Watson put the breaks on, and was going to go around him, and Shore just let him have it across the head with his stick, about 10 stitches worth, and knocked him out cold.

Clarence Campbell [later NHL president] was the referee, but he’d gotten into refereeing because of Shore. He’d been refereeing out in the Western league in Edmonton. He was a crooked guy.

When the penalties were metted out, he gave Shore 10 minutes for drawing blood, and Watson 10 minutes for antagonizing Shore.

Oh jeez, it was terrible. He wasn’t going to give Shore the worst of it.

The next time we played we were back in New York and Watson goes down, and Shore was going after Watson again, and Muzz came down and left his gloves and stick at the blue line and he really clobbered Eddie and knocked him practically behind the net and the thing was over.

Then Big Jack Portland and Gordon Pettinger were holding Muzz against the screen ‑ we didn’t have glass in those days ‑ the fight’s all over.

And Shore sees this, and gets up and comes after Muzz, and Muzz throws them like they’re little turkeys, and hit Shore and knocked him colder than a billygoat.”

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The billygoat returned, however, ten minutes later with a black strip across his nose and for the rest of that night, was the best player on the ice.

Shore broke up the Rangers’ rushes, led counterattacks and was as tough as ever.

So, former boxing champ Muzz Patrick had laid a beating on Shore – and not used his stick, as the Boston press had claimed – but Shore returned to the ice and was the star for the rest of the series.

A series, according to Clint Smith, that was “the toughest…ever played.”


In 1998, Eddie Shore was ranked #10 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Shore is the only defenseman in the history of the NHL to win the Hart Trophy four times (1932–33, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1937–38).