Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Pictures and Words-2010

Local bookstores may have that perfect gift on the shelves for you. There are plenty of hockey books that have hit the market this year, many by well respected hockey people.

As can be expected, Don Cherry has yet another revenue stream heading his way with Hockey Stories Part 2. I think he also has “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em
-the Seventy-eight Edition” ready for you as well. Cherry’s book connects hockey to early England, and contains a look at his personal journey into the Junior hockey world.

Bill Fitsell, the eminent hockey historian from the Limestone city, has compiled a look at really basic hockey roots-all the way back to ancient Rome, where field hockey was played, and where the losers had to face the lions in the Colisseum! (Fine, I apologize! I made that last part up!) Fitsell has always been at the forefront of the Society for International Hockey Research, and was a wonderful resource for all of the Belleville McFarlands activities last year. Look for his book: How Hockey Happened.

The Society, known in polite circles as “SIHR”, has also released its own publication through Quarry Heritage Books of Kingston. Pucklore: The Hockey Research Anthology. This book, compiled by the president of SIHR, James Milks, contains a collection of articles from twenty-two authors. For the true hockey fan, this book is a must.

Another group from the Society has assembled a volume strictly for Toronto Maple Leaf fans. It is entitled Diary of a Dynasty, 1957-67. Within that period of time, the Leafs won four Stanley Cups, and dominated the game just as television was making its appearance in every Canadian household.

As a young teenager, I remember once lying in front of a tiny black and white set at the home of a friend, Rod Turner, in Belleville. It was in the late 1950s, and amongst the group was Dennis Hull. An American network was broadcasting the Hawks game, and every time Bobby Hull hit the screen, Dennis let us know who was on the ice: “That’s my brother!” Not too long afterwards, Dennis was also destined to star for the Hawks.

A fine picture book about Bobby Hull has also hit the shelves. It covers his entire career from the third of January, 1939. He was born and raised in Point Anne, almost across the Bay of Quinte from Big Island in Prince Edward County. Hull still maintains his roots in this area, primarily through his cattle farming.

There are wonderful photos in the book of Bobby from a babe to a veteran of the hockey wars, now helping the Black Hawk cause as an ambassador for the game. On page six, there is a photo of Bobby’s Bantam team, the Bruins, with his coaches: Lloyd “Red” Doran, Dan Cowley, and his father Bob. Bobby is in the front row on the left, and Charlie Rowbotham is on the right.

I spoke with Charlie recently in Belleville. “Bobby was a great player in those days. He really didn’t stay around very long after that. He would finish the football season at BCI, then head off to Hespeler or Woodstock.”

Charlie remembered Bobby in the classroom. “He always had a portable radio. That was important to us during the World Series. Bobby would keep us posted with the latest scores.” Hully likely would have been discreet with the radio, as he avoided the eagle eye of Miss Mary Dwyer.

Bob Vaughan, the venerable doctor who brought the Belleville Bulls to prominence, grew up with Hull, and played against him. “On one occasion, our goalie didn’t show up. I’d always wanted to try that position. I strapped on the pads, and headed for the goal. Bobby scored eight times on me that game. That was the last time I was ever between the pipes!”

Alas, there are countless stories, and a hockey bag full of books awaiting your eyes. Happy holidays, and happy reading!

James Hurst
December 21, 2010

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