Monday, November 02, 2009
Celebrating Hockey History at Lunch
Once a month, during the hockey season, several former National Hockey League players get together for lunch just north of Toronto.
It is truly a fine collection of players from many decades. There are a few who played in the Sixties and Seventies. And there are a few who have been away from the game for some time.
Wally Stanowski received an ovation from the crowd because he had passed his driver’s test---again. Wally has had several tests because he recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday.
Wally was also singled out because he was one of many NHL hockey players who left the game in the Second World War to serve the country. A most fitting tribute as we approach Remembrance Day.
Stanowski, nicknamed “Wally the Hat”, came east in 1938 to play for the Memorial Cup as a junior. The Leafs liked what they saw in the speedy defenceman, and moved him into their system. After winning the Cup in 1942, he joined the army for two years.
The First World War had finally ended when the NHL’s second season began in 1918. A player from the old National Hockey Association, Scotty Davidson, was among the first to enlist in 1914. He had won the Stanley Cup in 1914 with the Toronto Blueshirts. He was killed in Belgium on June 6, 1915.
Conn Smythe, the man who forged the Toronto franchise into the Leafs, and also built Maple Leaf Gardens, emerged from the First World War as an officer. He formed a Sportsmen’s Battery twenty years later at the outbreak of the Second World War.
Danny Lewicki began his hockey career in an impressive fashion. He won the Memorial Cup as a junior when he was 17, the Allan Cup when he was 19, and his first Stanley Cup when he was 20. He spent nine seasons in the NHL. His grandson Aaron was an outstanding player with the Wellington Dukes a couple of years ago. Danny
Jim Morrison shared a few stories from his early days in the NHL. He played only fourteen games with the Boston Bruins before being traded to the Leafs. He was sent to Pittsburgh for a month, because the Leafs wanted to convert him from defence to centre.
In his first game as a Leaf, he was told by his coach, Joe Primeau, to get ready to jump on the ice after “Teeder” Kennedy won the face-off. Kennedy cruised over to the bench and Morrison leapt over the boards onto the ice. He took one stride and fell flat on his face. Three times. He then realized that the old trick had been played on him. There was a thin strip of hockey tape on the blade on the bottom of his skate.
It was great to share a story with two former Whitby Dunlops-Bobby Attersley and Sandy Air. Both have great memories of the ice wars against the Belleville McFarlands at the Memorial Arena.
The great Harry Howell enjoyed his lunch at the Rangers table. Bob Baun, Bob Nevin, Ivan Irwin, and other former NHL players appreciated the opportunity to meet with friends. It was also a pleasure to chat with former Belleville McFarland “Pete” Conacher, a most congenial host.
Canadian singing legend Michael Burgess showed up a little late for the lunch after his game of shinny. The group sang Happy Birthday to Herb Carnegie, celebrating his Ninetieth at the luncheon.
“Reverend” Ron Hurst closed out the festivities with a few anecdotes. With his quick wit, sharp lines and dead-pan face, he left the group rolling in the aisles, until the next time.
Enjoyed your 'blog' James, and hearing about all of the guys that Ike played with in Oldtimers hockey in Toronto.Post a Comment