March 13, 2014

Turk Broda: The Hunger Games

Call it hockey's version of The Hunger Games. In this famous photo Turk Broda chows down on a plateful off steaming pancakes:

One of the most famous and publicized incidents in Turk's career was his constant "Battle of the Bulge." The often witty though short-tempered Turk had the Toronto media press' attention as he and Leaf boss Conn Smythe constantly battled over Turk's playing weight.

Smythe once ordered Turk to cut his grocery intake enough to lose some weight. He wanted Broda to play at 190lbs, down from 197. Smythe then brought up minor leaguer Gilles Mayer and brought Al Rollins from Cleveland Barons (AHL). The Toronto press had a field day and called the goaltending trio "The Long" (Al Rollins 6'2"), "The Short" (Gilles Mayer 5'6") and "The Fat" (Turk Broda).

The whole event turned into fantastic publicity stunt, with Broda leading the way. The press knew all about his diet of grapefruit and soft boiled eggs. And of course the press was there when Turk tipped the scales at 190lbs before game day. It was front page news!

Smythe, of course, was delighted with the result. One legend has that Smythe offered him a special reward.

"There's no greater sportsman than the Turkey," Smythe crowed. "If the Rangers score on him tonight, I'll go out and get him a malted milk, just to show that I'm not trying to starve him to death."

Final score: Toronto 2 - New York Rangers 0

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