December 11, 2014

King Clancy's Spectacular Goaltending Relief Appearance

The NHL's earliest stars come from hockey's most colorful era. A big reason for that is their only footprint in history lies in newspaper archives from way back when. After all, there was no nightly video highlights or YouTube back then to watch these guys. No, for a lot of hockey fans, old-time hockey stars are very much a creation of the written word, not unlike their favorite characters in a novel.

But when you read the often-fantastical reports of player exploits back then, you should know that often the newspaper scribe doubled as team employees, often in charge of publicity. They supplied larger-than-life accounts of player greatness in the hopes of selling more tickets.

In fact, at times these game reports featured non-fiction prose far more exciting than the game itself.

Take for example, the case of Tommy "T.P." Gorman. Gorman was the lead sports writer and editor of the Ottawa Citizen, as well as manager and part owner of the Ottawa Senators in the early 1920s. His game reports could be, well, a little biased.

Take the case of the King Clancy's relief appearance as a goaltender in the 1924-25 season. Clancy, the superstar defenseman, stepped between the pipes to defend Ottawa's goal when netminder Clint Benedict was assessed a two minute penalty for unceremoniously whacking the ankle of Vancouver's Alf Skinner with his heavy goaltending stick.

If you were to believe Gorman's report, Clancy put on the greatest goaltending performance of all time.

"Clancy, pirouetting like a ballet dancer, caught the flying pucks with the super nonchalance of a great baseball catcher. He stopped a dozen shots that were ticketed for goals."

Apparently Vancouver's power play was something else! 

There was only one problem. It was not true.

Clancy admitted as much later to writer Jim Coleman. Not only did Clancy not face any shots, but his teammates defended so vigorously that Vancouver never even entered the offensive zone during the entire power play.

Gorman, who represented Canada at the 1908 Olympics in lacrosse, was a pretty effective general manager. He won no fewer than seven Stanley Cups and established Ottawa as the NHL's first dynasty.

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