April 24, 2014

Reader Charity Challenge: Help Me #OutRunParkinsons

I found this photo of Michael J. Fox - a noted hockey fan from Vancouver - wearing one of hockey's most famous/infamous hockey jerseys. This would have been 1982 or so. Fox looks young even by his endless boyish-charming standards:

Michael J. Fox needs no introduction, of course. Alex P. Keaton, Back To The Future, and Parkinson's Disease. His fight to solve Parkinson's Disease is truly inspiring.

On April 27th, 2014 I will be representing the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Team Fox at the Vancouver 10km Sun Run. I kindly asks for your support in raising money and awareness for Parkinson's disease research! Please donate at http://www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/joe . No donation is too small. In fact I challenge everyone to give up their $2 coffee/snack money at work today and donate to the charity of your choice. If you'd like to help me #OutRunParkinsons, donate your coffee money to http://www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/joe

About Team Fox
Team Fox is The Michael J. Fox Foundation's (MJFF) grassroots community fundraising program. It is made up of thousands of people worldwide who raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease research. All funds raised through Team Fox go directly to MJFF to further its mission to accelerate the delivery of life-changing treatments, and ultimately a cure, to people with Parkinson's disease.

Help us #OutRunParkinsons

April 23, 2014

Bobby Baun 50 Years Later

For Toronto Maple Leafs fans it may be hard to believe, but it has now been exactly 50 years since Bobby Baun scored perhaps the most famous goal in hockey history.

On April 23rd, 1964 Baun scored, as Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star phrases it, "an improbable shot after an implausible return that, 50 years later, still holds a revered place in Maple Leafs lore."

He adds: "An overtime goal in a Stanley Cup final is itself deserving of historic permanence. Add that it was scored on a broken leg and the storyline shifts into myth-making. Such was the magnitude of that dramatic night in an arena that no longer stands, for a team that no longer wins, that it dwarfs the other 1,059 times Baun pulled on an NHL sweater, and remains seared in the memory of Torontonians of a certain age."

Be sure to visit Mr. Hunter's in depth piece on the 50th anniversary of Baun's goal. It includes some brand new video interviews of the now 77 year old Baun.

Here's some further background on the story of Baun's goal -

April 22, 2014

Lady Byng Trophy Trivia!

Congratulations to Martin St. Louis, Ryan O'Reilly and Patrick Marleau who were announced as finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play.

In a recent Twitter conversation, Hockey Night In Canada's Jeff Marek and The Hockey News' Adam Proteau were debating how to revamp the Lady Byng Trophy in order to restore prestige and pride in the award. I suggested that if fans and players had a better idea of winners like Frank NighborFrank BoucherRed KellyDave Keon and Mike Bossy there would be no lack of pride in winning the award.

With that in mind, here are a few Lady Byng trivia questions for you:

  1. Who is Marie Evelyn Moreton? Answer - She is Lady Byng. That's her real name, while Lady Byng was her official title. She was the wife of Viscount Byng of Vimy, a Vimy Ridge war hero who was Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926.
  2. Lady Byng awarded the trophy for Sportsmanship and Gentlemanly play because she was so enamored with which player? Answer - Frank Nighbor aka The Pembroke Peach.  He was a brilliant two-way player with Ottawa in the 1920s, one of the most underrated superstars in history's eyes.
  3. This player won the award 7 times in an 8 year span. Who is he? Answer - Frank Boucher of the New York Rangers won the trophy every year except one between 1928 through 1935. Lady Byng was so happy with his performance she gave him the original trophy to keep at his home. The trophy was later destroyed in a house fire in 1962.
  4. This player interrupted the impressive trophy reign of the player in the previous question. Who is he? Answer - In 1932 Gentleman Joe Primeau won the Lady Byng. Leafs have won the Byng Trophy nine times -Gordie DrillonSyl AppsSid Smith twice, Red KellyDave Keon twice andAlexander Mogilny.
  5. Only three defensemen in history have ever won the Lady Byng. Can you name them? Answer - Detroit's Bill Quackenbush won the trophy in 1949, after a penalty free season which saw him on the NHL's First All Star Team. Detroit's Red Kelly won the trophy in 1951, 1953 and 1954, taking a combined 50 minutes in penalties over those three seasons. He was a First Team All Star in each of those seasons. Kelly won a 4th Byng trophy in 1961 with Leafs, but he played as a center that season. Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers won the trophy in 2012.
  6. How many goalies have won the Lady Byng? Answer - zero!
  7. This player changed his style from one of the league's top penalty minute leaders to win back-to-back Lady Byng trophies. Who is he?Answer - Stan Mikita was one of the dirtiest players in the game, using his stick for far more than scoring goals. But one night his young daughter asked him why he was sent to the penalty box so much, Mikita could not give her an appropriate answer. He changed his style dramatically, winning the Byng Trophy in 1967 and 1968. Amazingly, in each of those years he also won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader and the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player - the only player to capture all three awards in the same season.
  8. Wayne Gretzky won the Lady Byng how many times? Answer - Five times. Only Boucher has more Byng Trophy wins than The Great One

Bobby Hull And The Lost Letter

Here's a very cool story from the Regina Leader-Post about a 53 year old hockey fan who not only recently got to meet the legendary Bobby Hull, but was able to hand deliver him a letter he had written (but was never mailed) to him as a 10 year old.

As a boy in the late 1960s/early 1970s Ivan Daku wrote many NHL players and most of them responded with autographs and kind words. But he always wondered why the great Bobby Hull - he of the reputation as hockey's most fan-friendly player - never responded to his letter.

It turns out Daku's letter was never mailed. Daku only discovered this back in 2006 when going through possessions of his deceased mother. He found the letter and instantly recognized what it was. Though it brought back a flood of memories, he did not know what to do with it and refused to open it and read what his 10 year old self had written.

"I said, 'No, I'm not going to open it. There will come a time when it's appropriate to open this up.' "I brought it back to Regina and showed it to my boys. They said, 'Open it up and let's see what it says,' but I decided to put it in the china cabinet. It sat in my house from 2006 until we went to Chicago," he told the Leader-Post.

Daku attended the Blackhawks/Blues game back on April 6th, 2014 and was able to hand deliver the letter to The Golden Jet himself.

"I said, 'Mr. Hull, I'd be honoured if you'd open it and see what's inside,' Daku says. "He took it, looked at it, and said (to the people who were assembled in the area), 'This is a letter from Ivan. His mother never mailed it ... Well, let's just see what it says.'

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit emotional when he took it. My heart stood still for a second because I had no idea what was in the letter. It took 43 years to get the letter in his hands. He was like, 'That's a long time!'

So what did the letter say?

Dear Bobby, I like your style of hockey. I think you play better than Brad Park. Please could you send me some tips on left wing. And a picture and autograph of you.

Your fan,

Ivan Daku

History Made! One Wild Night

Some history from last night's action in the NHL playoffs:
  • Minnesota Wild set a franchise record for most shots in playoff game with 46. They also set a franchise record for most shots in a period with 22 (1st period).
  • Minnesota beat Colorado 1-0, thanks to a 22 save effort from Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper, who was playing in his first NHL playoff start, recorded the first Stanley Cup playoffs shutout in Minnesota Wild history.

Great Moments In Hockey History: Patrik Sundstrom's 8 Points

April 22nd, 1988 - Patrik Sundstrom set a Playoffs record by recording eight points (three goals, five assists) in New Jersey's 10-4 win over Washington in Game 3 of the Patrick Division Final. Sundstrom topped the previous record of seven points, recorded on three occasions by Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky.

Read all about Patrik Sundstrom here

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