August 08, 2009

Weekend At Bernie's

It's the weekend folks, and what better way to spend it than with the 12 players in NHL history named Bernie.

There are four Bernies every hockey fan should know:

Let's start with "Broadway Bernie" - Bernie Nicholls spent most of his career in relative anonymity with the Los Angeles Kings. Wayne Gretzky arrived in 1988-89 and turned the already offensively talented Nicholls into a superstar. Bernie was able to practice his "pumper-Nicholl" hand pump goal scoring celebration 70 times that season, and finished with 150 points. But Nicholls would be moved to Manhattan during the next season, becoming an extremely popular show on Broadway.

By the way, keep reading for an amazing and scary practical joke played on Bernie Nicholls....

Perhaps the most popular Bernie is Philadelphia Flyers goaltending great Bernie Parent. Much like Dominik Hasek in the 1990s, Parent's talent took him to career zenith that his peers never could achieve. From 1974-1977 there was no better goalie in the league, and he is the prime reason the Flyers appeared in three straight Stanley Cup finals, winning back to back championships in 1974-75.

Then there is Mr. St. Louis Blues himself, Bernie Federko. Federko was often a one man scoring machine with the middle of the pack Blues teams in the late 1970s and through out the 1980s. The man with the moustache is often considered the best player not named Wayne Gretzky to work the space behind the goaltender's net. An extremely consistent player, Federko was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Last but not least is Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, the Hockey Hall of Famer, the perfector of the slap shot, and the very first subject ever profiled here at Legends Network. Geoffrion is forever one of the Habs most beloved super stars. Although there was a time when Montreal fans actually booed him for winning the NHL scoring race.

Other Bernies of note include:

Bernie Wolfe - the lovable goalie of the horrible Washington Capitals teams of the 1970s.

Bernie Saunders - the 5th black player in NHL history, he's better known as ESPN host/announcer John Saunders brother.

Bernie Morris - The first Bernie in the NHL, he was a goal scoring standout with the PCHA Seattle Metropolitans that won the Stanley Cup in 1917. He actually missed most of two seasons with the Seattle Mets while facing charges of draft evasion from the United States Armed Forces. All charges were eventually dropped.

The remaining Bernies to appear in the NHL to date are: Bernie Brophy, Bernie Johnston, Bernie Lukowich, Bernie MacNeil and Bernie Ruelle.

Okay, on to that Bernie Nicholls practical joke story I promised you....

This is a picture of Bernie Nicholls and Tiger Williams playfully jousting in a charity oldtimers game. The laid back Nicholls and super-intense Williams did not always get along so cheerfully when the two of them were teammates in Los Angeles.

Once Nicholls played a seemingly harmless practical joke on Williams by giving away all his copies of Tiger's autobiography that were intended for sale. Williams fumed.

The next day Williams would have his revenge. An avid hunter, Williams uses bows and arrows rather than guns to hunt bears and deers in northern British Columbia. He obviously had his hunting gear at his home in Los Angeles, for some reason. He showed up at the Kings practice facility, the Culver City rink, armed and dangerous.

Marcel Dionne tells the rest of the story:

"So Tiger comes in, and I'm the first to see him. He walks in, and he's got his bow and arrow he goes hunting with. You've got to imagine all the guys in this narrow dressing room facing one another. And Bernies is sitting at the far end of the room. Tiger's at the door and he say, 'Bernie, you ****, you're DEAD!' He just pulled back on that arrow and everybody just hit the floor. Well there was a heating duct sticking out from the wall, and the arrow went right through it. Tiger knew what he was doing. It scared the hell out of all of us; everybody was in shock. That was Tiger. Bernie never fooled around with him again.

1 comment:

Yves said...

Great article.

That story about Tiger and Nicholls.... classic!


I would have been terrified to!