Saturday, March 18, 2017

TORONTO ST. PATS


Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs pay tribute to the Toronto St. Pats when they play host to the Chicago Blackhawks. The last time the St. Pats skated in the month of March, was on March 17, 1926. It was the last regular season game of the 1925-26 campaign and the St. Pats fell to the Senators 4-0 in Ottawa. The Toronto Daily Star observed "Roach, in the nets and Bert Corbeau for the defence stood out for the Irish."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BANNERS FOR THE "CHINA WALL"



On March 10, 2017, Johnny Bower's old banner from the Air Canada Centre found its new home at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The "China Wall" was born in Prince Albert on November 8, 1924. The above photo shows the banner prior to the contest between the Prince Albert Raiders and the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Unable to attend the ceremony, Bower's presence came to life via a video recording. "It was such a great honour for them to do that, to say yes," Bower said in the video. "I had tears in my eyes. But this is something I'll never forget. I wish I could be here tonight with you people. I'm sorry, but I can't be there with you tonight, but I'll always have you in my heart. Thank you so much."

Johnny Bower's Cleveland Barons banner at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland

Johnny Bower's original banner from 1995
Bower's banner (second from the left at the ACC) prior to its removal





This all came about at the beginning of the current NHL season when the Toronto Maple Leafs made an abrupt change in philosophy, and decided to retire their Honoured Numbers. Part of this process included the raising of new banners.


Johnny Bower at the ACC when his Retired Number was raised on October 15, 2016
Back in November Frank Mahovlich and Bill Barilko had their banners raised at the McIntyre Arena in Schumacher, Ontario





The ageless Johnny Bower shares the Retired Number One with another great Leaf goalie, Turk Broda.

Monday, March 13, 2017

IVAN IRWIN TURNS 90!

This is one of the most icon action photos in the history of the game and features "Rocket" Richard, "Gump" Worsley and Ivan Irwin. Never the type of player to backdown when confronted, Irwin stood his ground when the "Rocket" selected his weapon of choice. If Richard wanted a duel, Irwin was up to the task. Fortunately, the battle didn't escalate, but one thing is certain, the "Gumper" wanted no part of it.

And today, Ivan Duane Irwin celebrates his 90th birthday!

On November 5, 1953, Ivan skated in his first NHL contest for the New York Rangers. Early reviews of his Broadway performance were positive. "He's all I thought he was - and more," said Ivan's most important critic, his coach, Frank Boucher. The Rangers boss further stated, "I wondered if he was a sound thinking fellow, whether he might be wild and wooly and get foolish penalties." In the same breathe, Boucher laid to rest any fears in this regard. "Why, he's cool and smart. He doesn't get excited. You'd think he'd been in the league for five years."

Last Monday at the Original Six Alumni lunch, family and friends gathered to wish Ivan a Happy Birthday and to give him one special gift. As is the custom when a member of the alumni turns 90, he is presented with a plated chair to recognize the milestone birthday.

Here are some photos from the event.

Ron Hurst (C) and Pete Conacher (R) making the presentation.


Lorraine Shaw with Ivan's birthday cupcake.
Ivan is flanked by his wife, Peg (L), and daughter, Kim.

Thanks to the wizard behind the lens, ace photographer, John Cavers, for the pictures from the alumni luncheon.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

MILT SCHMIDT


In January of this year, the hockey world mourned the passing of Boston Bruins icon Milt Schmidt.

Today, the Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame would have celebrated his 99th birthday.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Schmidt for a project I was working on. During our conversation, I asked him to the name the player he looked up to when he was a youngster. "My favourite hockey player was in Kitchener," Schmidt began. "His name was Vic Ripley a centre ice man. I use to sell peanuts in the old Kitchener Auditorium. He was fantastic, a great stickhandler and a great playmaker. He played centre ice and I sort of tried to copy him. But I din't think I came close," Schmidt said while chuckling. "He played for the Kitchener Millionaires."

Upon reviewing Ripley's stats for the one season (1927-28) he skated with Millionaires in Kitchener, it isn't difficult to see why Milt Schmidt was impressed. In 39 games, Ripley scored 26 goals and added 14 assists for 40 points. Ripley went on to skate in 283 NHL contests and recorded 51 goals and 47 helpers.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A REVIEW: "ONLY THE DEAD KNOW THE BROOKLYN AMERICANS"


On the heels of his last project, "Hockey's Lost Boy: The Rise And Fall Of George Patterson," documentary filmmaker, Dale Morrisey, has completed his new offering. Soon to hit the festival circuit, "Only The Dead Know The Brooklyn Americans," tells the fascinating story of the New York turned Brooklyn Americans of the National Hockey League.

And the story is told by one of the most recognized voices in the radio/television industry-Larry King. Primarily known for his work on CNN ("Larry King Live"), King, a native of Brooklyn, New York, was a perfect choice for the job. King was a youngster when talk of Brooklyn obtaining an NHL franchice surfaced in the early 1940s. In his role as the narrator, it quickly becomes obvious that his memories from that time never left him. King's emotional attachment to the Brooklyn Americans shines through with every word spoken into the microphone.

Early in the documentary, King sets the scene for what we are about to watch. Morrisey's dialogue comes to life when King explains:

Then, as if by Devine right, we became the Brooklyn Americans and they became us. These star-spangled Amerks were ours to cheer for. They were equal parts fantasy, heart, desperation, grit and guts...Like all great fairy tales, there was a hero. Our hero was "Red" Dutton. Dutton, an immigrant to our Borough, but we were all immigrants. He understood us and he understood the Amerks belonged in Brooklyn. And so he moved them, moved them in name and moved them in spirit, but couldn't quite move them in the flesh. Then, the fantasy met the facts and the facts were joyless and bitter. Just like that the Amerks were gone...And with their death, so began the skid. The Dodgers were next, off to LA. Businesses moved and so did families...But miracles of miracles, Brooklyn is back. The NHL is back where Dutton wanted them all along. A time to celebrate and a time to remember. To remember the team that was here first and remember "Red" the man who brought the Amerks through the desert, but was not allowed to bring them to the promised land.

Another wise casting decision by Morrisey was his selection of historians to  appear on camera. These individuals include Stan Fischler, J.A. Ross, Sam Wesley, Steven M. Cohen and Eric Zweig. Like Larry King, longtime hockey writer, author and broadcaster, Stan Fischler, is another big name talent associated with this presentation. When Fischler talks about hockey in New York City people take note and listen. His vast knowledge of events and stories is unmatched. He makes a major contribution when commenting on the two main characters in Brooklyn Americans history-Bill Dwyer and "Red" Dutton.

Bill Dwyer was a New York City mobster who dealt in bootlegging. In 1925 he purchased the NHL Hamilton Tigers and moved them to the Big Apple. The Tigers became the New York Americans and played their home games at Madison Square Garden. Ultimately, they would share the Garden with the New York Rangers once they appeared on the scene. Off the ice, Dwyer's players often fell prey to the NYC nightlife and it showed in their on-ice performance. Dwyer's downfall came in 1936 when the authorities successfully won a lawsuit they brought against him relating. Unable to meet his financial obligations, Dwyer lost his team as the National Hockey League took control of the Americans.

Traded to the New York Americans by the Montreal Maroons on May 14, 1930, "Red" Dutton is the pivotal figure in the Brooklyn aspect of the story. Dutton hung-up his skates after the 1935-36 season and went from playing-coach to taking full control of the organization once Dwyer departed the following year.

By the time the 1941-42 campaign rolled around, Dutton realized his team needed a new identity and a change of venue from Madison Square Garden. The new identity came when he renamed them the Brooklyn Americans. When asked why Brooklyn, Dutton replied, "I've always regarded Brooklyn as one of the finest sports centres in the world. The way the fans support baseball and football Dodgers convinced me they would be just as rabid for hockey."

Dutton's dream was to build a new arena in Brooklyn (Kings County) for the Americans to call home. In the meantime, they practiced at the Brooklyn Ice Palace and most of the players resided in the Borough.

A native of Russell, Manitoba, Dutton's Brooklyn dream turned into a nightmare just one year after making the name change. In a move to control the New York hockey market, Madison Square Garden informed Dutton no dates were available for his team in the 1942-43 schedule. "We're out of the league because Madison Square Garden forced us out and for no other reason. We're out because Madison Square Garden didn't have any dates available for us this coming season. And you can't keep an NHL franchise with no ice to play on," Dutton told reporters at the time.

The final curtain call for the Brooklyn Americans at MSG came on March 15, 1942. A three goal night by Murph Chamberlain enabled the Amerks to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3.

Not wanting to divulge too much, I will leave the colourful stories and the twist and turns in the narrative for Dale Morrisey to reveal in his documentary.

After watching the final product, several important observations were made. First, it was apparent that Morrisey paid special attention to the most vital components of filmmaking-research/writing, casting, principal photography and editing. All these come together to tell a concise and complete story. Also, the musical score by Greg Pliska adds an underlying mood that enhances the visuals.

Above all, it is not "Only The Dead Know The Brooklyn Americans," but thanks to Dale Morrisey, anyone viewing his documentary will know the story of the Amerks.

This documentary rates 10-out-of-10 hockey pucks!

To read my review of "Hockey's Lost Boy" please click HERE







Sunday, January 1, 2017

ON THE SCENE

Over the last quarter of 2016, I've had the pleasure of attending several hockey events. Here is my photo essay. It starts with Road Hockey To Conquer Cancer, which was held on October 1.

Kevin Shea with the Hanson Brothers
Glenn Anderson
Bryan Berard
Tomas Kaberle (L) with Shayne Corson
Craig Muni (L) with Cory Cross
Mike Wilson (L) with Ron Duguay
Kevin Shea with Geraldine Heaney
Jim Dorey
Dennis Maruk (L) with Pat Boutette
Bobby Baun
Paul Henderson


BOOK LAUNCH: "INSIDE THE ROOM WITH THE ULTIMATE LEAFS FAN"

 (Seated) Paul Patskou (L) with Mike Wilson
Lance Hornby

BOOK LAUNCH: "THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAF HOCKEY CLUB - OFFICIAL CENTENNIAL PUBLICATION 1917-2017"

Ed Chadwick (L) with Kevin Shea
Ed Chadwick
Kevin Shea
SOCIETY FOR INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY RESEARCH FALL MEETING

Liz Pead with Gerry McNamara
Brian McFarlane
"Red" Kelly
Ron Ellis
Pete Conacher (L) with Brian Conacher & Mike Wilson

JOHNNY BOWER'S 92ND BIRTHDAY LUNCH

Don Joyce with Johnny
Johnny and his wife Nancy
Bruce Hood with Johnny
Bob Nevin with Johnny
THE ORIGINAL SIX ALUMNI CHRISTMAS LUNCH

"Red" Kelly (L) with Ed Chadwick & Frank Mahovlich
(L) June Smith (Sid Smith) with Wanda Morrison (Jim Morrison)
Blaine Smith
Bob Beckett (L) with Johnny McCormack
Tom Martin (L) with Mike Amodeo
Ed Chadwick (L) with Jimmy Morrison
"Red" Kelly (L) with Bobby Nevin
Phil Samis


HOPEFULLY, 2017 BRINGS MANY MORE WONDERFUL MEMORIES!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!










Saturday, November 12, 2016

1931-1999 MEMORIES & DREAMS



This being Toronto's centennial season, there is no bigger or important date in Maple Leafs history than November 12, 1931. It was 85 years ago tonight that Maple Leaf Gardens opened and a new era began.

In their new building, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup on April 9, 1932, against the New York Rangers. They went on to capture ten more Cups with the last coming in 1967.

The Gardens was not only the domicile to Leaf captains (pictured below from left to right) Hap Day, Charlie Conacher, Red Horner ( Leaf owner/manager Conn Smythe), Syl Apps, Bob Davidson, Ted Kennedy and Sid Smith, but also was the hockey home for generations of Leaf fans.



On the radio, young and old used their imagination to visualize the play being called by Foster Hewitt from his post in the gondola. When television arrived in 1952, families gathered in the living room and had the chance to witness the action from the hockey shrine at Carlton and Church. It was as though they had their own seat in the greys or greens. Saturday was Hockey Night in Canada from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.