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Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey

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ldquo;This is an excellent, long-overdue take on the ground-breaking blueliner’s life. . . . Hiam delivers a well-rounded pi... Lire la suite
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ldquo;This is an excellent, long-overdue take on the ground-breaking blueliner’s life. . . . Hiam delivers a well-rounded picture of the path from Western Canada’s rough-and-tumble leagues to 1930s NHL stardom.”

“Hiam's book Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey is full of little stories like that, making his Shore biography a fun adventure. It was a different time with some crazy characters, and Hiam tries his best to bring it all back to life.” 
—Joe Pelletier’s Hockey Book
"[Eddie Shore’s Career] is chronicled by Hiam in his celebration of, and attempt to resurrect, a fading legend. But what Hiam relishes as much is the unhelmeted recklessness Shore brought to the ice year after year. He frequently led the league in penalties, was generally feared and, most notoriously, ended the career, and nearly the life, of Toronto Maple Leafs star Ace Bailey with a vicious check from behind in 1933."
—The Globe & Mail

“C. Michael Hiam attempts to rectify this situation in his biography — Eddie Shore and That Old Time Hockey [Published by McClelland & Stewart --2010].  A thoroughly researched effort, the book takes us from the Saskatchewan plains of Shore’s birth and youth, through the rough and tumble world of professional hockey in his prime, to the travails of minor league ownership and management up to his 1985 death.  Along the way, the reader is provided with some admirable detail of Shore’s on-ice escapades, tantalizing glimpses of his essential character, and some startling insights into the world of professional hockey in its fledgling years.”
—The Hockey Writers
“Eddie Shore and That Old Time Hockey paints a picture of a man victimized by his reputation, one that was not wholly deserved in the author’s opinion, portraying the subject as a man who rarely initiated on-ice unpleasantness but had absolutely no qualms about visiting retribution upon the heads, limbs and bodies of those that did him wrong.
Using original newspaper and magazine articles as well as interviews with family members and others who knew Shore well Hiam gives his readers a glimpse into the portions of Shore’s life that was lived away from the ice, an area that has gone all but unexplored until now.” 


C. MICHAEL HIAM was born in 1962 in Boston and came of age as a hockey fan at the height of the Bobby Orr era, when there were no Bruins tickets to be found. As an undergraduate, however, he both played hockey and attended as many Bruins games as he could. Today, Hiam is a licensed psychologist in New York and Massachusetts, and has authored and co-authored a number of scientific articles. In 2006, his first book, a biography of a CIA analyst active during the Vietnam War, Who the Hell Are we Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars, was published by Steerforth Press. Today, Hiam lives in Newton, MA, with his wife and three children, and on Saturday mornings is an assistant coach for the Newton Youth Hockey Association.

From the Hardcover edition.

Texte du rabat

Eddie Shore was the Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb of hockey, a brilliant player with an unmatched temper. Emerging from the Canadian prairie to become a member of the Boston Bruins in 1926, the man from Saskatchewan invaded every circuit in the NHL like a runaway locomotive on a downgrade. Hostile fans turned out in droves with a wish to see him killed, but in Boston he could do no wrong. During his twenty-year professional career, the controversial Shore personified "that old time hockey" like no other, playing the game with complete disregard for his own safety. Shore was one of the most penalized men in the NHL, and also a perennial member of its All Star Team. A dedicated athlete, Shore won the Hart Trophy for the league's most valuable player four times - a record for a defenseman not since matched - and led Boston to two Stanley Cups in 1929 and 1939. In 1933, Shore was the instigator of hockey's most infamous event, the tragic "Ace Bailey Incident," and during his subsequent sixteen-game suspension the fans chanted, "We want Shore!" After retiring from the NHL in 1940, Shore's passion for the game remained undiminished, and as owner and tyrant of the AHL Springfield Indians, he won championship after championship. This is an action-packed and full-throated celebration of the "mighty Eddie Shore" - and also of the sport of hockey as it was gloriously played in a bygone age.

From the Hardcover edition.

Échantillon de lecture

The Montreal Forum, built in 1924 specifically for that greatest of sports, ice hockey, was a place where both French and English Montrealers could come together to yell, jostle, bet, fight, argue, and drink as one people—at least when the despised Bruins came to town. The Forum could hold more than eleven thousand spectators (in a tight fit), two hundred red-capped ushers, and as many plainclothes and undercover police officers as were deemed necessary. Thousands of fans that day, November 23, 1929, had spent hours outside in a line for tickets, keeping warm by lighting small bonfires, and now, once inside, they joined other spectators who were settling themselves into the expensive box seats, the regular seats, the overflow seats, the standing-room areas, the windowsills, and, for a spectacularly good view, the rafters. Everyone was in a boisterous mood, particularly those at the far end of the rink who had paid fifty cents for the right to “rush” the wooden benches of “Millionaires’ Row.” The Forum’s wooden benches held only two thousand, but there was always room for one more because there was always one more who could be pushed to the floor.
The Montreal Maroons were playing the roughest kind of game against Boston that night, and taking advantage of the roughness were Reginald “Hooligan” Smith and Dave Trottier, both having decided to make a sandwich out of Eddie Shore and, while they were at it, to give him plenty of the butt ends of their sticks. The crowd roared its approval at this, and seconds later roared even louder when Shore was sent reeling to the Forum’s near-perfect sheet of ice. Shore groggily picked himself up, blood spurting from his eyes, and the manager of the Bruins, Art Ross, rapped his fists violently against the boards of the rink to get Shore’s attention. Ross demanded he go off for repairs, but Shore refused, insisting on remaining in the game. When the Forum fans saw that Eddie was going to stick it out, they greeted this display of raw courage with hoots and cheers in both French and English.
The whistle blew, play resumed, and Shore dashed into combat again and was met by the Maroons’ up-raised sticks. Two well-placed jabs to his face tore open his cheek and sliced deeply into his chin. Then the Maroons dropped all pretense of civility and really let Shore have it. “He was,” according to an observer, “hammered, pounded, cut; and just at the end, a Maroon player cut across Shore and deliberately gave him a sickening smash in the mouth, which knocked out several teeth and felled the Bruin in his tracks.” The final wallop was delivered by Babe Siebert, and it sent Shore reeling to the ice once again. This time, though, Shore did not get up; he lay motionless in a pool of his own blood and teeth.
Montrealers were the most sophisticated hockey fans in the world, and they knew true talent when they saw it, even if that talent wore the hated brown and yellow of the Boston Bruins. And so, as Shore, apparently dead, was borne away, everyone in the Forum rose in respect, putting their hands together in polite applause. Meanwhile, the referee, naturally, had been looking in some other direction and missed everything. Siebert and the rest of the Maroons escaped without penalty.
Five minutes after the game ended, the legendary Montreal hockey writer Elmer Ferguson ventured into the visitors’ dressing room to see if Shore really had been killed. To his relief, Ferguson was told that the Bruin was still among the living. He found Shore “standing silently beneath the showers. Expecting an outburst I said, ‘Rough going, Eddie.’ Through bloody, swollen lips he answered laconically, ‘It’s all in the game. I’ll pay off.’”
Eddie Shore was one tough hombre, and he got his moxie from his upbringing in the “wilds” of Canada. “I have heard him talk,” the Boston sports columnist Austen Lake wrote in 1934, “with a trace of suspicious mist in his eye and a faraway look, about the winter moon over the tips of fir forests and the frozen void of nature that fairly throbs with loneliness, in which the distant howl of a wolf was a perfect soul note.”
In reality, Eddie grew up far removed from any trees, fir or otherwise, because in the heart of Saskatchewan, where he was born in 1902, trees had yet to be planted. Most of the land had also yet to be tilled, and back then the area was a barren but beautiful landscape covered by grass so short that when Shore was a little boy it barely came up to his knees. In the wintertime, the wind whipped across the prairie and a small Eddie, aged five and heading out to the unheated barn to milk the cows, could feel its cold sting.
Eddie Shore’s paternal grandparents were among the first European settlers in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley, arriving from Ontario in 1870. Those were the days of roaming buffalo, of Indian teepees, of Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts, and the watchful (of the Americans to the south) eye of the North-West Mounted Police.
Made a province in 1905, Saskatchewan was bristling with opportunity, and the Canadian Pacific Railway was luring immigrants from eastern North America and Europe with the promise of free land if they would settle the prairie; thousands were taking the railway up on its offer. By 1910, when Eddie was eight years old, his father, Thomas John “T.J.” Shore, had moved his wife, Kate, sons Aubrey and Eddie, and daughters Lizzy and Irene from Fort Qu’Appelle in the valley to a newly opened area twenty miles northwest. The son of pioneers, and therefore not an average homesteader, T.J. had a jump-start on everyone else, and in only a few short years he somehow leveraged his quarter-section (160-acre) allotment into a ranch of nearly seventy thousand acres, thirty-five miles wide and thirty-six miles long. The Shore place held four hundred head of horses and six hundred head of cattle; the operation produced 100,000 bushels of wheat and shipped 100 to 150 head of stock a year. The enterprise was worth at least half a million dollars, making Eddie’s father the richest man in the district.
Of Irish Protestant stock, T.J. Shore embodied the work ethic, and he made sure that his two sons, Eddie and Eddie’s older brother, Aubrey, did too. Under his harsh tutelage, the boys were never idle. As they grew older, the chores became ever more onerous until there were, it seemed, a dozen tasks, such as wheat harvesting, wood chopping, stock tending, and team driving, all of which had to be done before bedtime.
To help their work on the ranch, the two boys were taught to ride almost as soon as they could walk. At age seven, Eddie had his own horse, and soon he was breaking in ponies and starting to display a unique ability to endure great pain. When he was nine years old, one of these ponies refused to be tamed, and, with Eddie aboard, the animal reared back and then suddenly snapped forward. The boy’s face slammed into the animal’s head and he held on for dear life. Spinning in the saddle with a bloody and broken nose, he could hear a friend’s voice yelling in encouragement, “‘Stick it out, Eddie, stick it out!’” remembered Shore years later, “And I stuck it out.”
At twelve, Eddie was driving four-horse teams to the grain elevators in nearby Cupar, and folks in town noticed that T.J.’s young son possessed unusual strength. Eddie became known as the boy wonder who could remove a thousand-pound grain tank from a wagon unassisted, and who could also work in the wheat fields like a grown man and never wilt. At thirteen, Eddie, with his six-shooter at his side and a rifle across his lap for good measure, was entrusted by his father to herd the family’s prize horses to a distant grazing area. During one trip, he put the rifle to his shoulder and laid out warning shots to keep some strangers at bay. Word of this incident got back to the ranch, and T.J. found no cause to censure his son. At fourteen, he was taking on his father’s broncos, and these four-legged outlaws reared and stamped and lunged wildly in an effort to toss him clear into the next county. At fifteen, Eddie was an expert roper, and he could make the hemp loop spin at his wish—but not without incident. A steer once dragged him a quarter of a mile at the end of a lasso before he let go. At sixteen, he was riding herd on thousands of cattle and rounding up strays.
Eddie was competitive; he had to be, with a brother two years older who wanted to keep him in his place. One day, the two of them were doing some barnyard work when Eddie became tired of being bossed around by Aubrey. A tussle developed over who would use the spade and who would use the pitchfork. Aubrey, like his father, wouldn’t countenance any insubordination, and punched his little brother solidly in the mouth. Stunned, Eddie shook his head to clear his brain, then caught his older brother flush on the nose with a direct hit.
“For the next twenty or so minutes,” Shore said, “we went around and around, knocking each other down time and again, but neither could put the other away, nor would either of us give up.”
The brothers wrestled on the dusty earth, both hoping to land the knockout punch, but they were too much in each other’s clutches for either of them to break away and execute the final blow. Exhausted, dirty, and bloody, Eddie and Aubrey had to settle for a draw. Their father had calmly witnessed whole thing. “I hope you two are satisfied,” T.J. said. “Now get back to work.”
T.J. was a stern disciplinarian, and if it was for the good of his boys, he was not afraid to apply the sting of the whip. He also had a temper and, if provoked, could administer a sound thrashing, especially if Eddie or Aubrey ever made a mistake. T.J. was a perfectionist who would not tolerate failure in himself or anybody else, and he once ordered Eddie to operate on the hernia of a bull, telling him that if he failed, he would get a beating.
There were adventures aplenty for a boy growing up on the infinite reaches of the prairie, and Eddie had his fair share of them. There was the time when he almost froze to death while herding cattle in the winter. The temperature was sixty-one degrees below zero Fahrenheit. “I say sixty-one,” Shore qualified, “because our thermometers registered sixty below and they all broke. I had to drive twenty-three head of cattle thirty-two miles for my father. A hired hand went with me because we couldn’t get the cattle out of the chutes it was so cold.” The trail through the deep snow was narrow. “The cattle stayed in file all right,” Shore said, “and we jog-trotted them so they wouldn’t freeze. We got off the horses ourselves every so often so we wouldn’t freeze also.” On the return journey, Eddie’s horse fell down. “I didn’t realize it until then but I was probably frozen. My legs were frozen in the shape of a horse. I couldn’t get off, but the horse got up again with me in the saddle.” A hundred yards farther on, the horse went down once more. “I was thrown off. I had to get up. It took me about thirty minutes to get on the horse again.” With effort, and a good deal of pain, Eddie managed to regain his mount and make his way home. “You could freeze to death in a very short time out there,” Shore explained, “and freezing would be a pleasure, just a pleasant numbness.”
Eddie had his closest call at age twelve, when he was ordered to corral some horses; those that failed to go peaceably were to be roped and dragged in. Eddie had a twenty-square-mile area to cover, and he grabbed off all the easy horses first, leaving the hard ones for last. “That was an awful mistake,” Shore recalled, “because when a fellow has a fresh horse under him he should go to work on the tough horses first, and not tire his mount unnecessarily on the easy ones, and then find that the tough horses have it in their dizzy brains to have some fun.” By late afternoon, he had gotten the horses corralled, except for the last one, which sped away. Eddie took off after the escapee, and the pursuit was on.
The fugitive maintained a lead of several lengths, but by early evening the boy had gotten the better of the renegade. Just as he was about to rope the horse, however, his own mount hit a hidden burrow and he was thrown to the ground as 1,200 pounds of horseflesh came crashing down on top of him. Eddie’s horse rolled clear and patiently waited for its master, who lay motionless on the grass, to get up. When Eddie finally recovered his senses, nighttime had arrived, and he discovered, painfully, that both of his shoulders were cracked. His loyal horse was still waiting, and it would be another half-hour before Eddie could successfully manoeuvre his crippled body back into the saddle and make the eighteen-mile trudge back to the ranch house.
The doctor did not offer hope for full recovery because the shoulders, particularly the right one, were too badly smashed. For three months, the boy had to be dressed by his parents, but, determined to get better as soon as he could, Eddie exercised the wounded shoulders for several hours each day. In time, he was able to twirl a rope and ride the range again. It was six years, however, before he could raise his right hand above his head.
T.J. Shore did his business in Cupar (pronounced Q-par), where, among other things, he granted loans, owned a livery and feed store, and sold horses, land, and insurance. The frontier town had sprung up almost overnight as a result of a Canadian Pacific Railway dictate, and in Eddie’s youth Cupar was just a bare-bones collection of wood-framed buildings and houses lining wide, unpaved streets. Thanks to the civic generosity of Mr. T.J. Shore, however, Cupar did have sidewalks, as well as a new ice rink in a substantial structure that cost T.J. four thousand dollars. In a farming community like Cupar, where there was nothing to do during the long winters, it was a generous gift indeed.
As the sons of the influential T.J. Shore, Aubrey and Eddie were given keys to the rink, and Aubrey became a star on the local junior hockey team. Eddie, by contrast, was, he remembered, a “very weak and wobbly” skater. The future NHL superstar had little interest in hockey, perhaps because he considered it his older brother’s sport, and therefore not for him. By happenstance, though, Eddie did get a crack at hockey once. He had accompanied Aubrey and the Cupar team on the sleigh ride to neighbouring Markinch for a game, but when the players arrived, they realized they were one player short, and so Eddie Shore was given his first hockey audition. It did not go smoothly. “I was,” he recalled, “terrible.”
Baseball and soccer were Eddie’s sports, as was horseback riding, which came naturally to him. He would roar his pinto pony down the main street of Cupar in any position imaginable, and once, while standing up with his bare feet clinging to the animal’s back, the pony halted abruptly and Eddie did not. He landed face down in the dirt. He attended the school in town, but was no scholar. “If the class was assigned twenty words to spell,” a classmate recalled, “Eddie would misspell eighteen of them.” He skipped classes, got into disagreements with his teacher, and was suspended several times.
In Cupar, there were enticements not found back at the ranch, and once, when he was about twelve, Eddie stood in front of the butcher shop while the butcher was cutting up an assortment of cooked meats. The butcher offered the boy a slice. “How would you like this, Eddie? Beat up that boy over there and I’ll give you this, but if he beats you up then I’ll give it to him.” The other boy was four years older and thirty pounds heavier, but to Eddie it seemed a fair proposition. A crowd gathered to watch as he pummelled his opponent into submission. The butcher kept his word, gave Eddie the meat, and promised him a bigger slice if he took on an even larger, older, opponent. This time, he lost. Licked, he picked himself up off of the ground and seethed as his better devoured the prize. There was a lesson here, one that Eddie Shore had learned twice already in just one day: the winner gets everything, and the loser gets nothing. He would remember this.
When Eddie turned fifteen, he was a strong and steady youth on the cusp of full manhood. His father could trust him with all aspects of ranching and gave him responsibilities, such as allocating stock and overseeing the tenant farmers, usually afforded men twice his age. Eddie fulfilled his duties with confidence and skill, and his future as a prosperous rancher was certain, just as certain as the fact that his father’s land extended as far as the eye could see. Yet, within three years, Eddie Shore, that same fresh-faced youth who was once poised to be master of all that he surveyed, would be penniless. He would not have enough money even to buy food.
Eddie’s mother, Catherine Spannier “Kate” Shore, died in 1918 at age fifty-two, following a daughter, Clara, who died in 1908, and several infant children who had died earlier, into the grave. Nothing more is known about Kate Shore, but it can be surmised that she had a strong and positive influence on her son. When Eddie got married, it would be to a woman named Kate, and throughout his life he was invariably a gentleman around women and treated them as equals.
Around the time his mother died, Eddie’s father sent him to the Manitoba Agricultural College, where Aubrey probably was already enrolled. Eddie planned on becoming a veterinarian, but for sport he tried out for the school’s football team, where he was placed in the fullback position and did most of the kicking. Eddie also tried out for, and made, the basketball team. In the newspapers at the time, he learned about the sensational Dick Irvin, Winnipeg’s hockey hero and the kind of player who could lead his team to 9–0 victories by scoring all the goals himself. Reading about Irvin’s exploits gave Eddie the “dim idea,” as he described it, to play hockey in addition to football and basketball. Aubrey was already on the college hockey team, and he candidly informed his younger brother that his hockey ambitions were, simply, absurd. This not only did nothing to quell Eddie’s hopes, but predictably it had just the opposite effect. He vowed to Aubrey that he would not only be playing hockey for Manitoba soon, but would be playing professionally in five years.
Eddie knew that hockey demanded good legs, so he started running five miles every day and spending hours in the gymnasium. He also spent time rinkside, where he studied the best skaters’ moves as they strutted their stuff. When not observing others, Eddie would practise alone on the ice and, like a fighter shadow boxing, would imagine himself checking an opponent or being checked himself. Or, he would pretend that he was dribbling through three or four opposing players and, by feinting and shifting, outwitting them to advance the puck. “That sort of thing looks ridiculous,” Shore said, “but it is valuable to any boy who wants to play hockey.”
The college had three hockey teams, and Eddie got playing time on one of the minor ones. He was properly initiated into the sport at age sixteen, when he received his first body check. Eddie would dress for games in the dormitory, then go down to the open-air rink. “Often we played at thirty to forty below,” Shore said. “Our ears, noses and cheeks used to freeze regularly, and we’d be playing a little while and you could scrape the hoarfrost off of our backs and our chests. I remember we once played a game when it was fifty-five below and our eyelashes froze so stiff we were almost blinded.”
After just one year, the budding veterinarian left the Manitoba Agricultural College for an unknown reason (his academic records are no longer extant) and enrolled at St. John’s College School in Winnipeg the following fall. St. John’s was western Canada’s oldest school, and it would become famous for turning out such hockey players as Andy Blair, Murray Murdoch, and Red Dutton. Generations of boys had learned the game on the school’s tiny sheet of ice, and, amazingly, at one point in the 1930s there were no fewer than thirteen “Johnians” in the NHL. Whether Eddie went for the hockey or for another reason is not known, but he did catch on with the St. John’s team for the first two games of the hockey season before going home for Christmas, never to return. The only record St. John’s (now the St. John’s-Ravenscourt School) has on Shore is a brief one, and it ends cryptically: “Withdrawn, Christmas 1919.”
In Cupar, the hockey club was nearing the end of its first real season after limping along shorthanded for the past several years. The Great War of 1914–18 had wreaked havoc on Canada’s hockey leagues, both professional and amateur, because the legions of young Canadian men who would otherwise have been in hockey togs had instead been fighting across the ocean in Europe. Canada, a vast but sparsely populated country of only eight million, had sent a staggering number of its citizens, more than six hundred thousand of them, to war, and now, after the armistice, in towns large and small across Canada, memorials were being planned for the local boys who would never come back. Saskatchewan, with a population of half a million, had contributed forty-two thousand men to the war effort; from the rural Cupar district, vacant of almost everything except horses, cattle, and gophers, 126 men—fifteen of whom would never return—served with the Canadian forces. With peace came the Spanish influenza, which killed more people worldwide than had died in the war. The epidemic swept through Cupar, taking away entire families. Thankfully, by the conclusion of 1919, the dual calamities had ended and Cupar could once again devote time to leisure pursuits. The Cupar Hockey Club readied itself for the 1919–20 season.
In the United States, it was believed that all Canadians were born wearing ice skates, and in fact for many Canadians their earliest and most cherished memory was of getting their first pair. “I remember thinking what a great present these skates were,” the Ottawa Senators’ immortal great, King Clancy, said of his youth, “and couldn’t wait to put them on that morning. I stepped out on the verandah but had taken one stride when I sailed right down the steps and landed on the sidewalk.” Getting skates was, for Clancy, as it was for a multitude of little Canadians just like him, only the beginning. “Once a fellow wangled the skates and a stick, the river became a second home,” Clancy explained. “The rest of the equipment you had to come by as best you could. We used to make our own shin pads out of sweeper sticks tied together. These were sticks we’d find along the streetcar tracks after the sweeper car had been by to clean the rails. If we couldn’t find enough sweeper sticks, we’d use issues of the Saturday Evening Post. It was the next best thing.”
King Clancy’s childhood friend in Ottawa was Frank Boucher, who would later earn fame with the New York Rangers. “We played hockey morning, noon, and night when we weren’t in school,” Boucher recalled. “On Saturdays, for instance, the first arrivals would start a game around 8 o’clock [in the morning], dividing the available players evenly into two teams. As more boys came they joined one side or the other, always keeping the teams equal. Soon there’d be fifteen or twenty boys playing on each side, thirty or forty kids pursuing the puck.”
The game that Frank Boucher and his chums were playing was “shinny,” the basic version of hockey. The word hockey traditionally meant a curved wooden stick of some sort, but in the 1820s and ’30s it came to be associated with an obscure game played in England, which apparently involved a hockey. The first recorded mention of “hockey on the ice” was made in 1843 in Kingston, Ontario, which would seem to place the birthplace of the sport in Ontario—but Nova Scotians will have none of that. They claim that ice hockey comes from the Halifax region, where, by the 1860s, “the match game of hockey,” as it was called in old newspaper accounts, was a popular winter pastime. While Nova Scotians may well have been early and ardent adopters of hockey, their claims of exclusivity have to be weighed against evidence that similar games called hockey were also played in the United States, if not in other parts of the world, for at least as long as they had been played in Nova Scotia. Unquestionably, however, it was in Montreal that hockey as a modern organized sport, as opposed to a mere game, was conceived with the adoption of the Montreal Rules, written in 1877. Hockey flourished, and from then on it was just a matter of scattering the sport across the continent via the newly built railway lines.
In Saskatchewan, hockey followed the railway as it linked the distant outposts of Moosomin, Indian Head, Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current together. The larger towns of Regina and Moose Jaw were playing each other in hockey matches as early as 1894, and a year later a wayward shipment of hockey sticks abandoned in Moosomin served to fertilize the growth of the sport there.
Ice hockey in the years before 1900 was different from the modern game in many respects. Despite the Montreal Rules, the sport varied from place to place, and sometimes quite dramatically, but in general it was played in two periods of thirty minutes each and, whether played outdoors or indoors, the games were cold for spectators and players alike. Hockey’s first superstar, Cyclone Taylor, remembered the game of his youth in Ontario: “Fans in those days were an amazingly hardy lot, and they had to be. In those days of more than seventy-five years ago, it seemed that the winters were much colder and longer than they are now. The wind would howl and the temperature would get down way below zero, but out they’d come in the bitter cold, packing those draughty arenas, and loving every minute of it. They came on foot, by train, in sleighs and cutters, dressed in furs and mufflers, and sat huddled under blankets. And they’d stay right to the end.” Sometimes, on those mean winter nights, Taylor would look at the packed stands and ask himself, “Why are they here? Why do they come out on a night like this? But of course,” he said, “I knew why. They simply loved hockey.”
Between periods, shivering fans would have ten minutes to get some hot coffee, brewed in big, steaming urns under the stands, or furtively buy liquor, at a dollar a bottle, to keep warm. Tie games went into two five-minute extra periods, and if after these two sessions there was still no winner, play continued indefinitely until someone scored. In those days, players were not fussy about their sticks, as long as they were solid and heavy, and the only shot known to man or woman was the wrist shot. Teams played seven-man hockey, which most differed from the modern game because of the rover position between offence and defence, and also because forward passing was forbidden in all circumstances. Depending upon who did the reminiscing, seven-man hockey was preferable to the later six-man version either because it encouraged individualism or because it discouraged individualism.
All seven players were expected to stay on the ice for the entire contest. No substitutions were allowed for any reason, and if someone had to leave due to injury or a broken skate (with the exception, perhaps, of the mishap occurring at the very start of the game), they could not return; the opposing side, out of fairness, would also have to drop one of its players. The “goal guarder” stood between fixed pipes, both of his skates firmly planted firmly on the ice at all times. The NHL’s great stand-up netminders, like Georges Vézina, who learned the game in the early days, retained that stance and had all the angles down so perfectly, and were able to anticipate each shot so keenly, that they gave every impression of standing still the entire game.
Hockey then was a rough-and-tumble affair, despite efforts to keep it gentlemanly. By the first decade of the century, fisticuffs were common, timekeepers fiddled with the clock when it was in their team’s best interest to either make or lose time, and the sprinkling of salt on the ice was considered a good way to slow up faster opponents. Players caught in ...


From the Hardcover edition.

Informations sur le produit

Titre: Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey
Code EAN: 9780771041297
ISBN: 978-0-7710-4129-7
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Sport
nombre de pages: 344
Poids: 422g
Taille: H228mm x B162mm x T28mm
Année: 2011


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