A jab to the ribs—that’s hockey; but a jab to the heart—that’s different
LESLIE M. ROBERTS
IF YOU'RE harboring the idea that it’s a snap to take a bunch of nice young simon-pures from hose-pipe riks in the north-country, sign ’em on the dotted line and win a big league hockey title with ’em, take a little tip. Consult an alienist!
Some of these bush-bozos have as many idiot's incrasies as a grand opera star, except for the difference that opera singers don’t wear skates to do their stuff, or have to run around on a big
piece of ice all night
in a temperature of
sixty-five in the shade.
Take young Rene /
Beaulac, for instance.
When I got Beauƒ
lac, which was my first season running the Reds from the bench, he'd spent a year with the Habitants, mostly on the side tines and I picked him up cheap, Lachance having more talent than he knew what to do with right then. It looked like a good buy to me from the start. Johnson had begun to go soft and leave me without a good man
in centre-ice. so I was mighty glad when Monsieur Beaulac mailed me his signed contract and asked for railroad fare.
A nice clean-cut kid he was at that, with a girl back home in Timmins, or Timiskaming or one of them towns where they dig fillings for their teeth right out of the ground, and I soon learned he had a yen to earn enough on the hockey season to buy a double harness license for him and the girl, come June.
Believe me, or otherwise, smart young puck-chasers with girls back home look good to me when they know their tube-skates. It takes big savings accounts to marry girls these days, and the quickest way I knowfor a hockey player to get credit entries in the little book is by way of the play-offs and the bean ley Cup tilts. With the crowds we get this last couple of seasons, that means important money, and I was right in line with Beaulac’s ambition to give the instalment man a business chance.
I made no mistake, at’that. Starting the season with the monsieur as our first-string centre, he was a riot from the drop of the puck. The way that kid used to get down on one knee and hook that old rubber heel, coupled with hi3 flash, up ice and down, you could swear I’d found both Swanson and Legrand, rolled into one man. Speed? The kid had it to burn! The first time his old team came to town he had his one-time buddies standing on theirears. Honest, there were times he had Swanson wondering what it's all about, and I’ll say the baby who can smother Swanson is a hockey player, huh?
Beaulac broke that game up himself in fourteen minutes of overtime, splitting the Habitant defence clean in two—it looked like he went through Lanctot’slegs!— and landed right on top of Rinfret with ashotthatnever gave Geox’ges a chance. You don’t hear many stories about hockey teams taking overtime struggles from the Habitants, do you? Not with the way Swanson, Denis and Legrand can go goal crazy!
By Christmas the kid was our top scorer and the idol of coliseum fans, but no puck-hog. With a record for assists that was almost as high as his goal-count, it wasn’t hard to figure that the boy was plajdng for team wins, not for Beaulac, and for a chance to get into the big series in March. He had what you could call the ‘wedding-license’ complex.
The way that kid could bring misery into a goaler’s eyes! I haven’t seen anyone yet, not even Davidson, who could conjure the puck on the end of a stick like Beaulac,
Nec-minders all over the circuit used to bite pieces out of their stick handles, the way the kid would get in front of them and jiggle the rubber until he’d pull ’em out of the goal, or make 'em dive, then put the puck to sleep in an
empty corner of the net. Ask Yip Conroy of the Royals if you don’t believe me. He did it three times to Yip in one night down in Montreal.
By New Year’s, we had a four game lead over the pack, and looked like certain winners. Then Beaulac cracked wide open, and in a week we looked like the Yankees without Ruth and Gehrig.
IF I’D only used my head and said ‘No!’ that morning in Toronto, probably it wouldn’t have happened, but I was pretty sweet on my hard-working young phenom, and when he come up to the room and asked, as a personal favor, if he could skip to-night’s game and take a trip up north to see his girl, I said: “yes!” I did even better than that, and said he could skip the Saturday game in Detroit and meet us in Chicago on Tuesday for the mix-up with the Eagles. When I did that, I walked right out of the nets and left Old Man Tough Luck an open goal to play with. What that trip did to Monsieur Beaulac was a crime! But that’s getting ahead of the story!
Well, on Tuesday morning my Frenchman walks into the hotel in Chicago, and I heave a sigh of relief, things not having gone so good in the last two games. We took the Beavers 1-0 in overtime the day he left us, but the tail-end Robins hadn’t done a thing to us, not a thing but eight to three, that is; a nice record for the leaders against the two cellar clubs! Anyway I wasn’t worrying any when the game with the Eagles started, figuring that the return of our all-star pivot will put the old steam back where it belongs and give us the scoring punch we have lacked so badly our last two times out. Huh!
Before the game has gone five minutes the beans are beginning to spill. One of the first troubles is staged uy an elderly gentleman known to his friends as Babe Holmes, who snaps through centre to trim Jalde with a bullet-shot my little jumping jack never had a chance to see. Beaulac looked terrible on the play. Why, the Babe has as much chance of
breaking loose past centre-i ce when the kid’s poke check is working as I, have of being one of the Fathers of Confederation.
I wasted no time in chasing Bill Christian out to relieve Beaulac, and, as my monsieur comes in over t h .e boards and sits down on the bench, I point out to him that this
is a fixture of the National Hockey League, and not the Epworth.
Usually a crack like that would of brought tears to the youngster’s scoring eye, but not that night. All he does is pass me a lingering, dirty look, so tough that for a minute I thought he was going to get up and sock me. Then he just curls a lip, and rests his head on his arms while Mickey Devlin snaps down left wing with Duffy Bogue and rolls up another goal for Chicago.
I started him in centre again in the second period, but, as far as I could see he was just stalling around in centre-ice, not caring a snap one way or the other whether we won a game of hockey or just dropped it. Well, about eight minutes after the start of the chukker, right through centre goes Mister Warren of the Eagles, all alone, passing right round a defence that was too busy wondering what has happened to Beaulac to stop him, and lams the Eagles’ third goal of the evening into the corner. Goodbye hockey game! I was so mad I couldn’t see!
But you could have fanned me with a feather when, a minute later, the kid skates over to the bench and asks to be taken out. And the way he asks it is about as much like Beaulac as the request itself.
“Say, when do I get a rest?” he asks. “Am I supposed to stay out here all night?”
“When I want you to come in, fresh boy,” I rejoin, “the suggestion will come from me, personally, get me?”
Well, next thing I know, my temperamental monsieur has gone to great pains to give little Chambers the butt end and dump him into the boards in plain daylight, and Jerry Laflamme is wig-wagging my ace to the Mourners’ Bench. But a minor isn’t enough for Beaulac.
“Why, you’re crazy!” I hears him holler, making a threat with his stick at Jerry, and adding some verbal garnish that gets the ref. so mad he makes it a major. And this from my hard-working pivot-man who wants to get married! Can you beat it?
That was plenty for me. I hustled Christian over to the penalty bench to serve Beaulac’s time, and chased my battlesome monsieur to the showers. Next morning on the train I put him on the carpet, promising him everything from suspension and fines to sale to the Robins, and, when the monologue is over, am convinced that Beaulac’s only trouble was staleness and that he’ll snap out of it by the time we make Pittsburgh. All of which proves I don’t know everything.
IN RAPID succession we drop a game in Duquesne Gardens, make the Stars a present of another in Madison Square, and look almost as good as a high school team over in Boston. For this last named event Beaulac
don’t even take the trouble to come out to the rink, so I suspend him. Meanwhile we keep on dropping them and the wolves are howling round our back door in the won and lost columns. In another two weeks they had a foot in the door, and, by the middle of February had parked under the kitchen stove, licking their chops. My outfit had blown completely, and I had a hockey team that looked like my chances of being president of the C.P.R. Our home crowds was composed of the sport writers and a few ushers. The colonel looked like he wished he’d stuck to politics and never heard of hockey, and ¡I opened my mail every morning expecting a letter telling me I had resigned. Them was the happy days!
WHAT was the trouble? Girl. And I guess they still take their heartburn pretty seriously up north, judging by the way young Monsieur Beaulac gave up his hockey in favor of Special Liqueur, a commodity that never did mix with artificial ice, as used in a rink. From all reports he was well on the way to a new scoring record in the Highball Loop, which is a lot of help to a goalgetting eye!
Lornie Howlett, our spare goalkeeper, who had always been Beaulac’s sidekick, tried to remonstrate with him one night, but all he got for his trouble was a sock in the eye. That’s how much young Rene was worrying about his friends and little things like games won and lost. Howlett, rubbing his orb, remarked that it was Beaulac’s first goal since Christmas, but it didn’t get a laugh from me.
It didn’t get me anywhere to suspend him, and I could have fined him two days’ pay every morning and all the kid would have done would be laugh at me. When I told him I’d ship him to the minors, all he did was shrug his shoulders. He just didn’t care. I even sent Howlett up to Timmins to see his girl and find out what’s what, but all he came back with was the news that she was going to marry the school inspector.
This last item gave me to think, and I picked my time for thought around midnight in the Windsor in Montreal where we were taking a three day layoff between a three goal shutout we had just received from the Habitants and anotherwe was due to get from the Royals. By the time I had pondered until three a.m. the nearest thing to an idea I had was to buy a gun and slay my one-time ace of aces.
CAME the dawn and me, sometime later,[tuckedaway behind a potted palm in the lobby again, trying to think how we could rip ourselves out of the hole before it was too late to get into the playoffs. But I scarcely got the gears in mesh when Eddie Stoneham of the Royals, all dolled up like a million dollars, comes and parks himself beside me and starts to kid me about what his fence busters will do to me to-morrow night, a subject with which I’m well acquainted. Eddie talked and talked, while I tried to think.
It was a good thing I did. Even a hotel lobby palm forest will help once in a while, and what I needed was inspiration. I guess I must of been pondering the problem during about an hour of Stoneham’s monologue, when, all of a sudden, the idea hit me like a tap on the back of the head. Eddie must of thought I was crazy.
Probably I was. Anyway, when I saw Howlett standing by the cigar counter it hit me, and I leaped.
“Hey!” I yelled.
“Where does this dame live?”
“It must be the heat in here, boss,” grins Howlett. “There ain’t any dame. So how can I tell you where she .lives?”
“No, no, no!” I boiled. “You don’t get me! Beaulac’s dame!
The one up north!
What’s her name and where does she live?”
“Aw, I thought you was playing charades or something,” says my goaler. "Miss Marie
Carrière, Timmins, Ontario, is the name and address I have, but maybe she’s changed the name since I heard!”
“Don’t kid me, Howlett!”
I barked, while I took the telegraph stand on the run and grabbed a blank.
Then I lugged Howlett down to the grill and told that young man what I had said in the wire.
“And, if I get the right answer,” I told him, “it means you are going to get a chance to see a game of hockey with a pretty girl from a couple of promenade seats instead of from the bench!”
“Not me, boss, not me!”
Howlett pleads, “I can still feel that last sock in the eye I got from Mr. Beaulac!”
I had to promise to sell him to New Haven if he didn’t do the job before I could make Howlett agree to my scheme. He didn’t like the idea any too well, believe me!
My telegram worked, and pretty late that night I get a wire from the girl, sent from Toronto, which says her mother just called her on long distance from home to give her the message about Rene; and that she’s hopping the morning train reaching Montreal around
supper time to-morrow and will somebody please meet her and take her to the hospital to see him. So far so good, or so bad, I told myself.
Well, about a couple of hours before we are due to take one on the end of the nose from the Royals, Howlett visits the Bonaventure Station to explain to Marie that Beaulac came through the operation okay and is going to live, but that she can’t see him until to-morrow morning
on account of the doctor’s orders, and that in the meantime she’s the guest of the club and he’s her chaperon and so forth. Meanwhile I pilot my troupe of downhearts
out to the Forum, including Monsieur Beaulac to whom I impart the information that to-night is liable to be the end of the world for a certain young centre-icer, if he don’t make good on call.
I had decided against using the kid until I looked the lay of the land over, and figured I would leave him in the dressing room with Bill Dolan, our trainer, until I wanted him. It wouldn’t have looked so good for him to
be sitting right out on the bench about six seats away from the sweetie who believed him on a bed of pain and was there for that reason. That play would of been away
off-side, so I left him to
Bill’s tender mercy.
Before the game started Howlett came over to the bench to get me to help him with his alibi for when Beaulac showed up on the ice. Lornie had told the girl it was peritonitis and was worrying about how a fellow with rubber pipes in his stomach could suddenly rush out and play hockey, without causing his girl to faint or holler ‘Fake!’
“Do the best you can,” I told him and went over with him to say howdy to the girl. What a peach! You couldn’t blame the kid, honest!
Somehow we got through the first period without being scored against or scoring, but by the time the gong rang we looked like a team that needed a rest, believe me, and hadn’t give Conroy two real shots to stop in the whole canto. But we weren't so lucky in the second episode, Orken and Davidson combining to get the Royals a goal in six minutes and Cochrane spotting them to an other, single-handed three and a half minutes later. Meanwhile
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all we could do was try. Christian almost got to Conroy once, but Yip took it on the dive and smothered it under him. It was close, maybe, but they don’t flash those red lamps just for trying. That left us with two periods gone, the score two to nothing against us, Beaulac still in the dressing room and me on the bench wondering just what kind of a wise egg I’d turned out to be!
I didn’t start my opera star in the third period, either. Something told me I had to get one of these psychological breaks before there was any sense in shoving him out there, and that’s the way I played it, dumb if you like, but you’ll admit I was the man behind the gun and I had to shoot it my way.
Well, we toiled along for almost eight minutes with nobody doing anything to speak of. Then I got my break. Little Shrimp Gordon was the boy who made it, by the simple process of going in all by himself, down right wing to criss-cross Conroy .and zoom one off his pads that took the right angle and slipped into the net, making it two to one and not so bad as it had looked for a long time, and twelve minutes to go.
BEFORE the yelling was over I was in the dressing room looking for Beaulac. “Now get me straight and get me
quick,” I start, as I slam the door and make for the corner where he is reposing. “In about a minute you’re going to break into what I figure is your last game of hockey in this or any other league. What makes it worse for you, your girl’s out there and will see you make a bum of yourself again. This looks like your last chance, both ways. And I don’t mean maybe!”
“What did you say was out there?” he inquires.
“I haven’t got a girl!”
“Maybe not. All I know is her name’s Marie Carrière, and she comes from a place called Timmins!”
“Wha-a-a-a-at! ! !”
Honest I had to grab the kid to keep him from breaking through the door to look for her, and there was still a thing or two to tell him, amongst them that she’s only with Howlett at my request and that he please won’t go climbing the boards to bust Lornie in the eye on that account. I likewise explained that it behooved Monsieur Beaulac to play me a little hockey while he had the chance and forget the girl until he knew whether he had a job or not. Then Dolan runs in to say play is stopped, and he’s signalled Christian to come in from centre and we rush the kid out and over the side into the game. He had Shrimp Gordon and McMurty beside him on the wings, the old goal-getting trio that had made ’em all take water until the school inspector stole Beaulac’s girl.
I could see the girl gasp when Rene went into action, and Howlett was talking a blue streak, explaining how come her boy friend had rushed over from the hospital to save his dear old Alma Payroll, or something. Whatever he told her must of been good, but it only reminded me that I would have to think up some alibis of my own for after the game. But that would be later. Maybe I wouldn’t need ’em.
Did Beaulac deliver? Boy! And how! He never hit such a clip in his life, and it wasn’t a minute before the rest of the team caught the feel of it and we were bitting the high spots the way we used to around Christmas time. Beaulac was out to prove that an athlete is better than a school inspector, and all he needed was the chance to break through and get that goal.
Three minutes later I thought we had it. So did the crowd. That was when my whole forward line got through on Conroy as though his defence wasn’t there, and whirled the old rubber heel into the cage before he had a chance to save. But Smeaton said it was off-side, and that settled it.
My crew fought like a bunch of tigers and the Royals were back on their haunehes trying to protect that one goal lead as the big clock up by the scoreboard
showed six, five, four and three minutes to go. There was six of ’em trying to keep us out and everybody but the goaler on my club up there pelting a rain of rubber at Conroy. Boy! What a noise! I thought that crowd was going to tear the roof off! The clock went into the last minute and still we battled. Then Beaulac gets the rubber on a rebound of McMurtry’s and burns in close on Conroy, juggles with his stick and, just as Yip dives for what he thinks is a shot, Rene snaps the disc across to Gordon who is around the Royal nets and slipping it past the post into the corner for the prettiest goal you ever saw in your life. Can you beat it? Here was Beaulac with the puck in a fifty-fifty scoring position, all set to shoot, with a goaler diving to stop the shot. And what does he do? Take a chance and shoot? Not a chance! He uses that headpiece of his and passes the rubber away from the nets to an uncovered man for a clean break and a sure-fire score! That’s what I call brains! Two all and fifty seconds to go!
I spent the fifty seconds letting my regulars have a rest, but started ’em again in the first overtime period, with orders to go under wraps until they had caught their breath. So the fun didn’t really begin until that second overtime chapter. But it started then, I’ll say!
Drinkwater got the puck from the face-off and went in all alone. Then Connors comes back for the Royals but loses the rubber to Beaulac in centre, and away goes my forwards, boring in on the Royal defence. Then Anderson gives us some real help by taking Beaulac in the teeth with his stick, gets caught at it, and departs for the penalty bench, leaving his team a man shy. Beaulac was spitting blood and I thought I might have to take him out, but you couldn’t have hauled that kid off the ice with a tractor right then. Smeaton faced it on the Royal blue-line. Beaulac got it, whipped it across to Gordon on his wing and away the three forwards go with the most perfect combination the league ever saw. McMurtry got the first shot and Beaulac got the rebound. Then Connors tries to clear but McMurtry has it again, slips the puck across to Gordon, who clears it to Beaulac as two Royals spill him. Beaulac shifts quickly, wriggles through ’em all, right in on top of Conroy and, as Yip sets himself for the shot, shifts like a flash and nets the rubber in the opposite corner of the goal. Good-bye, ball game! Three to two for us and its all over! What a game of hockey!
rT'HE girl? Oh, I got out of that easy!
By the time I could get myself sorted out, here was Rene and Marie in as pretty a clinch as you ever saw, so I let well enough alone. I told the kid in the dressing room what I’d done and he thanked me. The girl just smiled. He married her last June.