The Christians in the arenas

Hal Quinn,Ashley Collie November 13 1978

The Christians in the arenas

Hal Quinn,Ashley Collie November 13 1978

The Christians in the arenas


I'm not playing for me but for God's purpose, and that's to glorify Him in the way I play.—Ron Ellis

These religious freaks are ludicrous.

—Harold Ballard

There are Hare Krishnas on the street corners, Witnesses at the door, a Christian in the White House, and born-again Christians in the dressing rooms of the National Hockey League. Somehow, prayer cloths, “save me” television shows, honking if you love Jesus, and Athletes for Christ are all part of the same movement that started so long ago. Now one set of shoes worn by the fishers of men are Tacks.

Heaven forbid that these Christians with Kohos be tossed to the proverbial lions. Gladiators wearing the same cloth are there to protect them. Lest faithful fans fear Canada’s national exported game has been inherited by the meek, three of the four most penalized players last year in the World Hockey Association now dispense retribution in the once revered NHL.

The teams that don't have the goons get beaten on. — Paul Henderson

Paul Henderson vaulted the bench in Moscow in 1972 and scored the goal heard round the capitalist world. From that mystical moment, he retreated to Toronto seclusion and said, “I never want to get that high again.” In the process he found The Word, and has stuck to his words in the WHA.

Henderson used to go around telling his team-mates not to hurt opposing players. — Harold Ballard

With Toronto, the born-again Christian Henderson was known as a Bible not body thumper. Henderson balanced his pacific play with tenacious pursuit of the topic of Christ. “As for me being aggressive with my faith, I love God very much, and I’m not as aggressive as I’d like to be.”

He now skates with the Birmingham Bullies, who set a pro hockey record of 2,117 penalty minutes last year. Says

former Bull policeman Frank Beaton, “Paul was able to freewheel more and had one of his best seasons because we were able to stick up for him.” Stick up for him? Paul’swife, Eleanor,says other teams were afraid to step on the ice against Birmingham. Henderson himself admits, “I would have hated to play against the Bulls.”

Tom Edur, at 23 years of age, had it all, the all-Canadian dream—women, money and a spot in the NHL. He was the highest scoring defenceman for the

Pittsburgh Penguins last season. He quit to recruit for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denver.

Scriptures say that there shouldn't be competition at the pro level.

—Tom Edur

If you want an honest opinion, I th ink he's stupid.— Tom Edur’s mother

Edur was leading the materialistic good life until he was baptized a Jehovah’s Witness last summer. “My faith is

a way of life and there are things in hockey, like the violence and killer instinct, which don’t coincide with the Bible’s principles.”

Prime goon of the WHA last season, Steve Durbano, rebuts the Christian approach to the arena. “This is a pretty violent game, and if you want to survive you’ve got to put your body on the line. Anyone, and not just Edur, who’s not going to do that, should just get out.”

Ron Ellis of the Toronto Maple Leafs retired in 1975. “I started drinking, felt depressed and started blaming the game and pressure for my problems.” Between retirement and comeback in ’77, Ellis was “born again” and attributes his smooth re-entry to his “whole new positive outlook.”

In the fold now too is former black sheep Dave Forbes. The Boston Bruin’s aggressive play culminated in the courtroom and in the loss of sight in one eye of Henri Boucha of Minnesota. “I’m sure the Boucha incident had an effect on me and on my decision to become a Christian. There’s no question hockey is tough and sometimes violent, but God gave me the ability and talent to play, and that’s where he wants me to be.” Last year, He supposedly wanted Forbes to spend over 100 minutes in penalty box purgatory.

By putting their hand in the hand, are Christian hockey players passing responsibility to the scorekeeper in the sky? Forbes: “I have the peace of mind that God is in control of not only my hockey career but also my life.” Canadien Doug Jarvis: “Many times I find myself getting on my knees to ask God to solve a difficult situation or help me through it. All the responsibility for my life is in God’s hands.”

Anyone who thinks that God wins or loses games has to have an awfully weak mind.—Harold Ballard

The National Hockey League has a two-man security team that visits team training camps, “to talk about dos and don’ts,” says director Frank Torpey. “We discuss several topics, drugs being one of them, and we tell them what individuals and groups to avoid.” Asked if these “groups” included Hare Krishnas, Scientologists, PSls and Christians, Torpey says, “No comment.”

In a world where gurus wear Twistoflex watch bands, Moonies dance in daylight, TMers claim levitation in Huntsville, Ontario, and two Popes are elected in a year, those who play at a game for an average salary in excess of $90,000 must also come to grips with the eye of the needle. Hal Quinn/Ashley Collie

Hal Quinn

Ashley Collie