A Six-Letter Word Meaning “The Best Game in the World”
A goal net was first introduced into hockey about twenty-five years ago, by “Charlie” Good. A number of disputes having arisen over scores as a result of the puck shooting through the goal and rebounding onto the ice, he bought a tennis net, had a hole bored and a post set behind the middle of the goal, and the net stretched across so that it formed a triangular pocket. It was a crude affair compared with the present arrangement, but it served the purpose and blazed the trail.
CHARLES H. GOOD
IF THAT legendary personage “The Man from Mars” were to pay another of his week-end visits to this earth, this time with a view to taking back with him to his own planet the best and most exciting form of athletic contest, which one of all our games would he choose?
A difficult question, you say; and one not to be easily answered. Perhaps. But there are a million or so sporting enthusiasts scattered between Halifax and Vancouver, between Pittsburgh and Porcupine, who would have no hesitancy in giving you the correct answer in a six-letter word meaning “the best game on earth.” And that word is—why, “Hockey” of course.
Naturally there are a few score other sports whose devotees will be ready to argue the point. Baseball, cricket, soccer, tennis and a dozen others. But, without going into the comparative merits of the various games, there is no question that the gentleman from Mars would grasp the theory and appreciate the beauty of hockey more quickly than he would any other major sport. It takes a dozen games of baseball, at least, to make even the beginnings of a baseball fan. It takes three or four generations—well, perhaps not quite so long; say a lifetime—to acquire a taste for cricket. But ten minutes at a hockey game is generally quite long enough for the novice to become thoroughly smitten by the deadly microbe; and before the final gong of his initial match has rung he has contracted the disease in its most malignant form. And the only permanent cure for this disease, hockeyitis, seems to be the professional services of some good undertaker.
The Super Fan
TPAKE the case of one Daniel P. Howley, for instance. A Daniel P. hails originally from the environs of Boston, home of culture, cod-fish and more culture. Daniel P. is not unknown himself in the annals of sport, having practised the profession—or is it art?—of baseball on various diamonds for many years, and being now manager of the Toronto team in the International Baseball League. But if Dan Howley lives by baseball, it is hardly an exaggeration fo say that he lives for hockey.
Talk about your hockey bugs—in a roster of real fanatics Dan Howley would bat three or four places ahead of Abou Ben Adamant who, if you remember, “led all the rest” in the olden times. The only days Dan misses his hockey rations are Sundays; and the saddest time of the year to him are not the melancholy autumn days, but the early weeks of March when he has to leave his favorite teams to fight their own battles, while he leads his troupe of baseballists to the training grounds of the Sunny South. It is even hinted that Howley passed up a hunting trip with his friend Ty Cobb because it would mean his missing a whole slew of hockey matches. Which reminds us of this little story.
The Tennessee school marm sat at her desk reading over the composi tions her pupilshad written on the subject of Canada. `Canada" wrote little Willie Jones, "is a country filled with bears, wolves, Indians and Mounted Policemen-all very wild."
What constitutes the peculiar fascination of hockey anyway? A game that will make ten or twelve thousand men and women sit, in zero weather, on the uncushioned seats of an unheated arena for hours on end, must have some charm that is all its own. It isn’t its antiquity, for there are a dozen games with a much longer span of history. In fact, hockey is a mere infant among sports from the standpoint of age; although ground-hockey in England and hurling—or “hurley” to be exact—in Ire-
And the teacher thought of the winter holiday she had spent in Canada when she had seen neither wolf, bear, Redskin or “Mountie.” Crossing out the offending words she bethought herself of the hockey matches she had attended, of the crowded arenas packed with howling, shrieking enthusiasts. Taking up her pen she inserted in Willie’s essay the words “hockey fans.” “There now,” she said to herself, “that is about right. ‘Canada is a country filled with hockey fans—all very wild.’ ” land, are sports of ancient lineage, andnearly enough allied to our game to be called ancestors. But there is a thrill— —a “kick”—to ice-hockey which is lacking from these others. Or, for that matter, from any other game whatsoever.
Wizards of Speed
PERHAPS it is the speed at which it is played. No other sport presents such lightning-like combinations of quick thinking, fast action and kaleidoscopic changes. In the twinkling of an eye a match may be won and lost; in a few seconds the whole aspect of a game can be changed. With ten seconds to go before full time on a historic night in the year 1914 the T.R.&.A.A. and St. Michaels teams were deadlocked 5 goals to 5, and most of the spectators had started for the doors, figuring that the issue would have to be settled another night. Before those ten seconds had elapsed Gordon Meeking, originally from Barrie but then centre of the Torontos, had grabbed a loose puck near his own goal, skated the length of the rink through the tired St. Michaels team, and flipped the rubber disc into the enemy net for what has gone down in the unofficial records as “the million dollar goal.”
If hockey had a middle name Speed would be it. The only slow man who is of any use on the ice is the fellow who pushes the scraper around during intervals, and he isn’t always so slow, at that. It was speed that gave Johnny Woodruff of the Soo his chance—that and his expert stick handling. You can say the same of Herb. Drury, who starred in the Niagara Peninsula, was on the U.S. Olympic team and is one of the fastest boys in the game, and it sticks out in the work of Howard McMunn, the Winnipeg flyer who was selected to go to Europe with the Granites, the Olympic champs. Sig Slater, of the Montreal Vies., selected for the Olympic team, and Hooley Smith, Toronto and Olympics, now with the Ottawa pro’s, and a great center man, both owe much of their prestige to the way they can lick up the distance.
A great team, those old Torontos. The two Meeking boys—Gord and Harry; D’Arcy Smith—Moose Heffernan—Jack Gooch, now sleeping “somewhere in France” —Russ Stephenson—Jack Brown—Bud McLean. And a great team, thim ould St. Michaels: Doug. Addison and Winnett Thompson; Jimmy Dissette and poor Glad Murphy; Jerry Laflamme, Frank Rankin, Beulah Davidson, Dutchy Richardson, Jack McCamus, and Herb. Matthews. Read them over, old-timers; read 'em and weep. But then, if I start in recalling famous teams of old, the rest of this issue might look like a city directory. Names like Frank and Lester Patrick, Marty Walsh, Russell Bowie, Tom Phillips, Hod Stuart, Harvey Pulford, Rat Westwick, Paddy Moran, Bruce Ridpath, George MacKay, George Chadwick, the Morrisons, the Smith’s Falls Smith’s and hundreds more rise in the memory and recall the fact that while this is the age of speed, some of those teams of our parents’ time would have made a full-sized mouthful for even our modern hockey aggregations to chew.
One of the most famous coaches in the game to-day is Eddie Powers, who coached the De La Salle Junior Champions, the Eatons and the Riverdales, when they were champs, and is now handling the St. Patrick's.
Mention of Smith’s Falls, by the way. brings vividly to mind one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the sport. It happened in 1905, but many an old fan will remember the stir it made. The Marlboroughs and the Smith’s Falls team met on the latter's home ice for the second game of a series. During the first half one of the Marlboroughs bodied a Smith’s Falls player into the boards. There was no apparent reason for it; the move was unprovoked, and as feeling among both teams and spectators had been worked to a high pitch, the fur flew. So did sticks and fists and skates, and casualties piled up until, at the beginning, of the second half, only two of the local players were able to take the ice—the goalie, Chuck Turner, and Herb. Birmingham. The referee called the game, refusing a decision, and by order of the O.H.A. executive both previous games were cancelled and the rival teams ordered to play off on neutral ice at Peterborough. The result showed the decided superiority of the Marlboroughs, for they won easily, 9-3.
But let a real old-timer say a word about the very dawn of hockey, the days when there neither were arenas, gate-receipts or wartaxes. Let us summon Capt.
James T. Sutherland who, if not the actual father of hockey, can at least claim to be one of its uncles. If a man is as young as he feels, Mr. Sutherland is by no means one of the ancients yet. He hails from Kingston, which is nothing against him, because lots of better men come from there than some who go there. And, if the records are not all astray, he took part in the organization of the first icehockey league the world ever saw.
“It was in the year 1888,” says Mr. Sutherland, “that teams representing Queen’s University and the Royal Military College met on Captain Dix’s rink, which was a skating area situated on the open harbor in front of the Kingston City Buildings.
“Of course shinny had long been played in Kingston, just as it had been played for many years by the youth of Canada wherever there was a sheet of natural ice and crooked-ended sticks grew in the swamps. But in various parts of the Dominion athletes had been experimenting, trying to evolve an organized ‘grown-up’ type of game from the old haphazard shinny, in which the only recognized rule seemed to be that of shinny ‘on your own side.’ “One of the chief drawbacks had always been the use of a round ball, which was difficult to control with any degree of certainty on slippery ice. Word reached Kingston that in Montreal they had been getting satisfactory results from a flattened disc of india-rubber; and for the Queen’s-R.M.C. game a solid rubber bouncing ball was cut down to about the size and shape of the present-day puck.
“At first it was intended that natural shinny-sticks should be employed; but some genius conceived the idea of sending to Montreal and borrowing a set of manufactured sticks which had been tried out there.
I may say that after the game we had to express those sticks back to Montreal—whether the full number went back or not, memory fails to recall. Probably not; for even then the game was by no means a love-feast.
The Garb of Other Days
THE rival players appeared on the ice garbed in long white duck trousers—‘ice-cream pants’ in the modern vernacular. I think one or two of them wore the type of whiskers known as ‘side-burns’ too; young men did not trim the foliage quite so assiduously then as they do now.
“The rink was laid out for pleasure-skating purposes primarily; and in the very centre of the sheet there was a band-stand from which the Sousas and Whitemans of that day were wont to discourse sweet strains for the youth and beauty of the Limestone City to glide to. When a player dashed up the rink with the puck it was necessary for him to circumnavigate this band-stand; and it was of great assistance to an attacker to be able to elude his check by skating around the opposite way from what he expected.
“The exact score of this opening game escapes me at the moment; but the cheeking was fast and furious, and there was quite a run on arnica and similar soothing lotions in the Kingston drug-stores when hostilities were finally declared off.
“If this was not the first organized hockey-league in all Canada it was, at all events, the first in Ontario. We kept our own organization going for the next two years; and by that time the new sport had become so popular in Ottawa, Montreal and other eastern points that the cities in the Western section of the province decided to take it up too. And on November 27, 1890, at the Queen’s Hotel, Toronto, there was held a meeting which resulted in the formation of the Ontario Hockey Association.
“One of the founders of the new league was the Hon. Arthur Stanley, the son of the then Governor-General. Coming to Canada a few years before, he had found the game a mere infant; but, delighted with the fascination and possibilities of the sport, he had been one of the sponsors of the Rideau Hockey Club in Ottawa, and in 1890 he urged the formation of a league. Judge Barron of Stratford, then a member of parliament and a hockey-player, Harry Ward, M.P. for Durham, and the Hon. Arthur Stanley,' came to Toronto as Ottawa’s representatives to the organization meeting, which was also attended by delegates from Bowmanville, Kingston.
and six Toronto clubs.”
So Mr. Sutherland, and if there are any to dispute his claim for Kingston as the birthplace of the game in Ontario let them speak their piece now or forever hold their tongue. There can be no question about the statement that in less than forty years the game has grown into a giant; for a giant it is.
The Raiders from the West
IT HAS been curious for those who have watched hockey grow to see the manner in which the star of ascendancy has shifted all over the map. There were days when the Renfrew Millionaires were the king pins, thanks to those monarchs of sport, Leslie and Frank Patrick, who between them have made kockey what it is in the far west. It can safely be said that even the brothers have done more to popularize professional
hockey than any other pair in the country. There was a time when their name was anything but sweet-smelling to the promoguls in the east. There was a reason, and a big one too. The Patricks never hesitated, when they wanted material for their league, to raid the east on a wholesale scale. One year they lifted a whole team and a championship aggregation at that. It was Toronto that suffered and it was through this sad calamity that the N.H.L. was perforce compelled to enter into an agreement with the Coast league.
But if the west took our players, in turn we helped ourselves to many of the innovations introduced by the Patricks in the matter of playing rules. The “no man’s” territory in centre ice is a western invention. It was laughed at originally, but the Patricks had the last laugh.
Of late years the O.H.A. has reigned supreme in the amateur world. It was not always thus. In the early part of the century Montreal and Winnipeg held the balance of power. That was before the introduction of an artificial ice arena in Toronto. Even in the old days teams sprang into being in the Queen City that were as good as the best. What memories the name of the Wellingtons, four-time winners of the senior championship, recalls! There was a team, and it is not likely that their like will be seen again. In three of their
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A Six Letter Word
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winning efforts the Iron Dukes won the cup away from home. They played better on foreign ice than on their own little sheet on Mutual street. Where is there to be found a stick handler of the supreme skill .that was George Chadwick’s? He was a veritable wizard on skates. At Cornwall I saw him get possession of the puck close to his own goal and although only six or seven inches of his stick remained in his grasp, the result of a vicious slash, he retained control of the disc and didn’t part with it until he had carried it to the other end of the rink.
Irvie Ardagh, Chummy Hill, Frank McLaren, Worts Smart, Jimmy Worts and George B. McKay were members of this wonder team when it invaded the west in quest of the cup and which gave the Winnipeg Vies two of the hardest battles known in Stanley cup history up to that time.
As an evidence of the wonderful interest taken in the visit of the Wellingtons the fact can be cited that arrangements to announce the results of the games in Toronto at midnight on each match night were made. If the Dukes were winners a steam whistle was to blow two loud toots, but if they lost only one. There was many an aching heart in the metropolis on these two historic occasions.
Of course some of the fans are going to tell you that the Olympic-winning Granites, the Allan cup holders from the Soo, the Selkirk Fishermen, the Tigers of Hamilton, the Toronto R. and A.A., Sudbury, St. Michaels, and other famous teams past and present were as good as if not better than the champions of twenty years ago. Maybe, but I doubt it. It’s all a matter of opinion; and one man’s view is as good as another’s.
I was almost forgetting the famous Falcons of Winnipeg who swept all before them in this country and in Europe. In a roster of great amateur teams the Manitoba marvels deserve a place at or near the top.
Frederickson of this team had few equals as a centre player. He was the Harry Watson of the Falcons. If the latter ever follows the example of the former and enlists with the pros, the O.H.A. will lose its brilliant performer.
It was Watson who led the Granites in the majority of the goal-getting orgies in France, and since the disruption of that super-sextette he has kept Parkdale in the running for O.H.A. honors.
Watson is to the Paddlers what Roy “Gloomy” Lessard is to the Soo Greyhounds. It is perhaps just as well as far as their respective reputations is concerned that they are both left wingers. What a great duel would be the result if they were ever pitted against one another. Lessard may not be as spectacular in his methods as his great rival, but he seems to have the faculty of coming through in an emergency, and that is the supreme test.
Every team has its outstanding star. Lou Hudson is the spotlight performer for the U. of T. just as he was for Aura Lee as a junior and for the Dentals some years back. Stratford has “Doc” Carson and before the coming of the former Varsity flyer to the Classic City Howie Morenz was the “big noise.” The latter youngster made hockey history when he jumped from the intermediate ranks into the N.H.L. and immediately made good in the so-called “fastest hockey league in the world.” “Hap” Day, who is with the St. Patricks, made almost as great a leap when he deserted the U. of T. this season.
The Making of a Star
THE seemingly meteoric rise of star players generally has as a basis several seasons of good, steady hockey, with skill increased with practice, and no matter what speed, stick cleverness, or other qualities a player may possess his most essential trait must be “hockey brains”—that almost intuitive sense which seizes immediately upon the right thing to do and does it. Such a player is Dune. Munro, formerly with Toronto Varsity, and the Granites, who was on last year’s Olympic team and who recently joined the professional ranks. He has speed, judgment, skill in handling his stick and is one of the best defensive players in Canada; in all physical properties he is a good all-round player—but it is that quality of “hockey brains” which has made him the highest-salaried player in the game, with a reputed income from the Montreal Club of $25,000 for three years’ work.
Varsity has produced many fine exponents of the art of puck chasing. Beattie Ramsay, who is now coaching the Princeton squad, was a distinguished defence player with the U. of T. and the Granites. Lou Harris with Parkdale and McLeod with the sensational Peterboro team were the defense pair on the champion U. of T. squad last year. It is more than likely that they will be found arrayed on opposite sides in the finals. Class will tell.
Peterboro is the “Washington” of the O.H.A. senior series, to date at least. The Lock Lift City team may not go on as did the Senators in baseball and capture the world’s championship, but, win or lose, the Petes have earned enough glory to satisfy any team for a life time. With no expectation of winning but solely for the practice that they sorely needed the Petes entered the Sportsman cup competition and proved the “dark horse” of the series. In addition to winning the cup they went on and chalked up ten straight victories before Parkdale broke their splendid streak. And it must be remembered that Peterboro originally intended to compete in the Intermediate series. Accidents will happen, you murmur, but the Petes are far from being a fluke aggregation.
Age in hockey doesn’t appear to make as much difference as in some other sports. Take Joe Vezina, the best goal keeper in hockey and one of the real reasons why the Canadiens have kept so long on top. He has been playing the game for upward of a quarter of a century, and he’s as good to-day as ever he was, and in some ways better. Joe deserves a lot of credit, not only because of his hockey record but because he has presented this Dominion of ours with fourteen future citizens. That’s stepping some. On the other side of the age fence is Carrick, a Toronto Varsity player, who is twenty-one and worth watching on the ice. You’ll find him answering roll-call where the golfers gather, too, and if you think he can’t box page West Point, N.Y., where he cleaned up in the heavy-weight class not so long ago.
A Nation’s Game
HOW many games of hockey have been played in the thirty-four years that the game has been on the map? Who will compute the number of tons of gutta-percha that have gone into hockeypucks, the number of cords of ash that have been cut up into hockey-sticks, the number of gallons of cough-drops that have disappeared into throats aching from a couple of hours continuous rooting? Let the cross-word puzzle friends take an evening off and figure it out. But it is safe to say that any fine January or February night will find at least twenty-five thousand Canadian men and boys busily engaged in the fascinating pursuit of the elusive rubber disc, to say nothing of the countless girls who find in hockey a perfect combination of exercise and excitement. A great sport, hockey. A game of thrills and spills, tense moments and nerve-wracking situations; a game that will sound all the notes in the gamut of human emotions from low comedy to keen tragedy.
Comedy! What could be funnier than the incident of the referee who, officiating at a game in a very poorly-lit small-town rink found himself confronted with the spectacle of both teams simultaneously making a desperate attack on the enemy goal, with the subsequent investigation which proved that a lady spectator in leaning from the gallery above had lost from her hair the little pad—“rats” didn’t they call them?—that, in the dim light, looked so much like a puck.
Tragedy! The blade of a Toronto Varsity player’s stick slips upward, and little Johnny Brackenborough, star centre player of the Hamilton Tigers, goes sightless in one eye for the rest of his days. But the tragic incidents, thanks to the skill which becomes second nature to our players, are few and far between.
There is a wide-spread idea that half the breaks that come in hockey and result in a score are a matter of luck. Certainly, luck sometimes takes a hand but it needs skill and quick thinking to take immediate advantage of the moment. It may have been luck that sent George Mackay the puck on one memorable occasion, but it was co-ordinated skill and judgment that enabled him to take it on the fly, as a lacrosse player takes the ball, and whip it into the net.
A real game, in truth; and he—or she —who would play it successfully must be no weakling. Of course the fact of a man’s being a hockey player is no positive guarantee that his path through life will be smooth, or that his walk will always be strictly upright. But, all things being equal, the boy who devotes his time to hockey has at least one advantage over his non-athletic contemporary. For there is one prime requisite to the successful hockey-player, one lesson he must learn that, once learned, stands him in good stead in after-life. And that is the capacity to bear punishment without whimpering; he must be “able to take it” as the sporting fraternity phrase it. Thousands of men can hit as hard, or harder than Jack Dempsey; what has put him at the top of his chosen profession is his ability to stand up to all his opponents throw at him, and come back for more. And when a boy has learned “to take it” he has at least laid the foundation for a successful career; and there is no better place to master this difficult lesson than on a hockey-team.
Recipe for Success
WHAT is necessary to become a successful hockey player? Let Billy Hewitt tell you. He is secretary of the Ontario Hockey Association, has been intimately connected with the game for many years and there’s no one in the Dominion better qualified to say.
“Live and eat naturally,” says Mr. Hewitt, “and get in plenty of skating. No special dieting is necessary for hockey players, but they must have good wind. Many teams, before the ice comes, get into training by organized long distance running and other exercise to improve the wind. When cold weather shuts down and it is possible to use the ice it will be found that these teams have a good start on those who have to depend upon their games and practice to bring them up to a proper stage of fitness. That is time wasted, which properly belongs to improving their game.
“Hockey takes more out of a man than any other sport except rowing. Every muscle and mental quality is in constant use. There is very little let-up, and although, unlike the rower, the hockey player is able to rest now and then, this advantage is overcome by the physical contact with his opponents which the rower does not encounter.
“If you are going in for hockey you have got to have stamina—the ability to take punishment like a sportsman and grin when taking it. You must have the will to stick to it—persistence! It is
persistence that enables a player to go through the enemy team and hang on to the puck no matter what tries to stop him. It is persistence that makes for good back checking—that feature of hockey upon which so many teams 'have ridden to victory, and lack of which has caused far more to taste the bitterness of defeat. Stamina, persistence, good nature and physical fitness—these are the hallmarks of the hockey star.”