November 28, 2014

The Gretzky Collector

Here's an interesting video from SportsNet about Shawn Chaulk, the ultimate Wayne Gretzky collector. Not only does he have game worn skate, jerseys and sticks from Gretzky's greatest games, he even has Wayne's old Mercedes complete with license plates that say WAS 99S!

Pat Quinn's Grandfather Won Grey Cup With Hamilton Tigers

It's Grey Cup week this week. They say the Canadian Football League's championship is the second greatest trophy in Canadian sports. I must admit I could not be any more uninterested in football. In fact, as great a hockey fan as I am, I am a terrible sports fan.

But I found this story about the Grey Cup timely.

Pat Quinn, who passed away just this week, had a grandfather who starred with the Hamilton Tigers and won the Grey Cup in 1915, long before there was a thing called the CFL. His excellent football career was cut short by his enlisting in the First World War where he was a munitions carrier - one of the most dangerous jobs around.

His name was George Ireland - nicknamed Snooze because of his strange ability to fall asleep on command under almost any circumstance. He survived the war and returned to Hamilton where he lived until his death in 1964. Ireland, by the way, is pictured on the far right in the photo above.

Anyone who knew Pat Quinn knew one of his interests outside of hockey was Canadian military history, and now we know why. Quinn, who often cited war history in his pep talks and always paid his respects on Remembrance Day, had a very personal connection to the war.

Quinn also played football, and given his size he undoubtedly could have become very good at it. But his passion was always hockey. But there was a time where Quinn had to play football because he could not play hockey. 

After his grade 8 year Quinn decided he was going to become a Catholic priest. After spending a summer in a seminary near Niagara Falls, he decided he was not ready for such a life, largely because they prohibited his interest in sports.

By the age of 15 Quinn was offered a scholarship at the famed St. Michael's College in Toronto. Not only were they a top development junior hockey team for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they offered a strong Catholic education. It was seemingly perfect for Quinn, who had a strong interest in academics. As a NHL player he earned a degree in economics and later earned a degree in law.

There was only one problem. Quinn was from Hamilton, and that was Detroit Red Wings category. The Wings had already lost one such star to the Leafs thanks to his enrollment at St. Mikes - Frank Mahovlich - and they certainly were not going to let any more Hamilton boys slip through their fingers. Quinn was not allowed to play hockey.

Quinn still wanted to attend St. Mikes and did so for three months. He ended up playing football in that time. But ultimately his love of hockey saw him return to Hamilton where he returned to the ice, and, eventually, made it all the way to the NHL.

Rocket Richard Caricature (In French)

November 27, 2014

Wrestling Meets Hockey: Is This Really A Thing?

When I was a kid I loved table top hockey and I loved many of the superstars of the WWF like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Savage and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

But I would never have mixed that two. But toy maker Remco apparently did back around 1990.

Yes, this the actual photo of the box cover of the game. Copies are for sale on eBay, though they are pricey. Various players are also available separately

Wrestling has a long history in Canada, as many people know. That means wrestling and hockey are bound to have a few relationships. Here's what I have come up with:

Hockey Gets The Edge, too - Edge, a Canadian named Adam Copeland, has been a celebrity blogger and is frequently seen at NHL games. Edge, pictured, will defend his heavyweight championship on Sunday. At 6'5" and 250lbs, I only have one question - can he skate? 

Just Fabulous - Denis Gauthier's uncle is Jacques Rougeau, best know as one of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and later was known as The Mountie.

Jacques Rougeau's uncle Jean "Johnny" Rougeau, a famous wrestler in Quebec, ran the QMJHL's Laval team in the early 1970s (including when Mike Bossy was there), and later served as league president. The Jean Rougeau Trophy is given in his memory to the QMJHL's leading scorer each season.

More All In The Family - Former Leaf Denis Dupere is a cousin of the famous Vachon Family - Mad Dog, The Butcher and Vivian.

Hart Trophy - Bret "Hitman" Hart was a founding owner of the WHL Calgary Hitmen.

Body checks to body slams - Peter Taglianetti failed in a $20,000 charity attempt to body slam Yokozuna.Baby Faced Assassins - Ted Irvine's son is none other than Chris Jericho.

Not Quite As Mean - Mean Gene Okerlund's son Todd played for the New York Islanders. Rumor has it he was not a good interview, but I bet he was a natural interviewer!

Unsportsmanlike Conduct - The WWF briefly dressed a fellow named Bill Irwin in hockey gear and called the character "The Goon." As Vince McMahon said "He makes Claude Lemieux look like a Sunday school teacher."

Around the same time former WCW wrestler Scott D'Amore and a fellow named Dave Clark formed a hockey related tag team called Gross Misconduct on the Canadian indy circuit.
Bear Hug - 1959 playoff hero Marcel Bonin wrestled circus bears one summer.

Skulls & Crosschecks - A terrible ankle injury ended the career of Boston Bruins prospect Walter Nurnberg. He later found employment in the squared circle as Skull Von Stoheim.

Sharpshooter - Hockey Hall of Famer and Canada's Athlete of the Half Century in 1950 Lionel Conacher, pictured, excelled at at many sports including wrestling. He was known in both sports as "The Big Train."

Not Quite As Sharp - Then there was Jean Pusie, who was more of a wrestler turned hockey player/clown on ice.

Happy Days - Toronto Maple Leaf Happy Day defeated teammate and fellow future Hockey Hall of Famer Red Horner in a special match at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1932.

The Globe and Mail reported "It was expected that this would be a farcical bout, but the athletes crossed the guessers and made it an honest-to-goodness struggle, with nearly all the modern tactics on display."

The Toronto Star reported "This act was a knockout and the fans got a great kick out of it. ... The hockey players showed the fans a lot of new holds and contortions and displayed surprising speed and agility on the mat." 

Lionel Conacher offered to wrestle both men at the same time in a match that, as far as I know, never happened, likely because this match drew Leafs owner Conn Smythe's ire. Although he probably didn't mind the extra gate receipts that night.

Amazing 1964 Video Of Chicago Blackhawks

Elegant Elmer Lach

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