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Mr. Hockey

Trading Card of Gordie Howe

Trading card photo of Gordie Howe as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. These cards were printed on the backs of Chex cereal boxes in the US and Canada from 1963 to 1965. Those collecting the cards cut them from the back of the boxes.

Gordie Howe, a great Canadian hockey legend, known for, among other feats, for his Hat Trick.

Here are a few facts:

* Born on March 31, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan.

* Died on June 10, 2016 in Toledo, Ohio at the age of 88.

* He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

* He was ambidextrous.

* Played from 1946-1971 and 1973-1980.

* He was nicknamed Mr. Hockey.

* A 23-time NHL All-Star, he held many of the sport’s scoring records until they were broken in the 1980s by Wayne Gretzky. He continues to hold NHL records for most games and seasons played.

* He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times, won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player, and won six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.

* Howe was most famous for his scoring prowess, physical stamina and career longevity. He is the only player to have competed in the NHL In five different decades (1940s through 1980s). Although he only accomplished the task twice in his own career, he became the namesake of the “Gordie Howe hat trick”: a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. He was the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

* He was slightly dyslexic growing up, however, he was physically beyond his years at an early age. Already six feet tall in his mid-teens, doctors feared a calcium deficiency and encouraged him to strengthen his spine with chin-ups. He started playing organised hockey at eight years old. Howe quit school during the Depression to work In construction with his father, then left Saskatoon at sixteen to pursue his hockey career.

* Howe was an ambidextrous player, one of just a few skaters able to use the straight sticks of his era to shoot either left or right-handed.

* He experienced his first taste of professional hockey at age 15 in 1943 when he was invited by the New York Rangers to their training camp held at “The Amphitheatre” in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He played so well that the Rangers wanted Howe to sign a “C” form which would have given that club his NHL rights and to play that year at Notre Dame, a Catholic school in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, which had a reputation for discovering good hockey players. Howe wanted to go back home to play hockey with his friends, and declined the Rangers’ offer and returned to Saskatoon.








 

 

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From Peach Basket to Fame

Basketball is a sports game that’s familiar to everyone worldwide. I don’t think there are many who do not know about basketball, or even a few rules of how the game is played.  But some do not know the history of the game.  Allow me to offer a quick refresher.

  • James Naismith, Canadian educator and a sports recreationalist, invented the game in 1891.
  • The game was created in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • It took Naismith and his team about 14 days to form the rules of the game.
  • That basketball was initially played using peach baskets as hoops.
  • That it was then played with 9 players on the court per team.
  • That the first ball use in basketball was actually a soccer ball.

Throughout the years, basketball has been polished and the rules were changed that only 5 players per team are now playing on the court. The peach baskets were also replaced by iron rims with nylon nets beneath. The point system was also refined. The soccer ball was replaced with an official basketball. Long range shooting or the three-point shot were also included in the game.

James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Ontario (Canada); he passed away on November 28, 1939 at the age of 78 in Lawrence, Kansas (United States).

He studied physical education in Montreal (Quebec) before moving to the United States, where he developed basketball while teaching at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts.

First basketball team at the University of Kansas, 1899.  Coach James Naismith is on the far right.

First basketball team at the University of Kansas, 1899. Coach James Naismith is on the far right. Source http://www.kumc.edu/research/medicine/anatomy/sutton/biology_and_basketball.html Author: Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

Naismith was also a National Guard chaplain with the First Kansas Infantry Regiment. He taught his soldiers basketball to control their excess energy. His effort helped increase morale and even lowered the rate of disciplinary actions among soldiers.

He lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904 and as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, as well as the birth of both the National Invitation Tournament (1938) and the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship (1939).

Naismith’s contributions to basketball have earned him several posthumous honors, such as in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame, and the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he is a member of the original Hall of Fame class, was named in Naismith’s honour.

 

 

 

 

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Remembering a Hockey Legend

Earlier this week we lost a hockey legend, Jean Béliveau.  Can I introduce you to him?

He was born on August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.  He died on December 2, 2014 at the age of 83, in Longueuil, Quebec.

Photo of Jean Béliveau

Hockey legend Jean Béliveau

He was a professional Canadian ice hockey player who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Montreal Canadiens from 1950 to 1971. He began to play professionally in the Quebec Major Hockey League (QMHL). He made his NHL début with the Canadiens in 1950, but chose to stay in the QMHL full-time until 1953. By his second season in the NHL, Béliveau was among the top three scorers. He was the fourth player to score 500 goals and the second to score 1,000 points. Béliveau won two Hart Memorial Trophies (1956, 1964) and one Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1956), as well as the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy (1965). As a player, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and as an executive he was part of another seven championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Nicknamed “Le Gros Bill” (The Big Bill), Béliveau ranks among the ten greatest NHL players.

Interestingly, Béliveau can trace his ancestry to Antoine Béliveau, who settled in 1642 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The Béliveaus were expelled along with the Acadians in 1755 and the family settled in the Boston area before moving to Québec to the Trois Rivières area in the mid-19th century.

He suffered from many ailments for decades now.  He’s suffered two strokes, and was diagnosed with cancer (he recovered after a punishing course of treatments).

Another defining moment in his life, Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered Béliveau the position of Governor General of Canada in 1994.  However, he declined the offer to be with his daughter, Hélène, and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie. Their father, a Quebec police officer, committed suicide when the girls were five and three.

Of many legacies he leaves behind, one of the greatest (I think) is the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, established in 1971. In 1993, Béliveau transferred the foundation to the Society for Disabled Children.

We have missed him on the ice and admired him for his steadfast vigour for living life to its fullest.  Thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and fans.

 

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Hockey Legend Gordie Howe

On October 26, 2014, Howe suffered a stroke in Lubbock, Texas, and as a result has lost some function on the right side of his body.  As we send him and his family our thoughts and prayers, let me introduce you to Gordie Howe.

Gordie Howe Trading Card

Gordie Howe trading card via Chex cereal,
Ralston-Purina Company.

He was born on March 31, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan.  He grew up mildly dyslexic, and by his mid-teen years he was already six feet tall.  Doctors feared a calcium deficiency and encouraged him to strengthen his spine with chin-ups. He began playing organized hockey at eight years old, then left Saskatoon at sixteen to pursue his hockey career.  Howe was an ambidextrous player, one of just a few skaters able to use the straight sticks of his era to shoot either left- or right-handed.

Howe made his NHL début on October 16, 1946 playing right-wing for the Detroit Red Wings, scoring in his first game at the age of 18.

He established himself as a great goal scorer and a gifted playmaker with a willingness to fight. Howe fought so often in his rookie season that coach Jack Adams told him, “I know you can fight. Now can you show me you can play hockey?” The term “Gordie Howe hat trick” (consisting of a goal, an assist, and a fight) was coined in reference to his penchant for fighting; however, Howe himself only recorded two such hat tricks in his career, on October 10, 1953, and March 21, 1954.

Please note that a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” is not the same as a “hat trick.”  A “hat trick” means scoring three goals in a single match.  There are a few stories out there about the origin of the term “hat trick,”  but the one that is most often told is of Montreal hatter Henri Henri, that between 1950 and 1970 he would reward any NHL player who scored three or more goals in a game at the Montreal Forum with a free hat.

As Howe emerged as one of the game’s superstars, he was often compared to the Montreal Canadiens’ Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Both were right wingers who wore the number 9, were often contenders for the league scoring title, and could also play rough if needed. During their first meet in the Montreal Forum, when Howe was a rookie, he knocked Richard out cold with a punch after being shoved.

Howe has set many records that have not been surpassed, such as:

  • Most NHL regular season games played: 1,767
  • Most NHL regular season games played with a single team: 1,687
  • Most NHL and WHA regular season games played: 2,186
  • Most NHL and WHA regular season and playoff games played: 2,421
  • Most NHL seasons played: 26 (tied with Chris Chelios)
  • Most NHL and WHA seasons played: 32
  • Most NHL regular season goals by a right-winger: 801
  • Most NHL regular season points by a right-winger: 1,850
  • Most NHL regular season points by a father/son combo (with son Mark): 2,592
  • Most consecutive NHL 20-goal seasons: 22 (1949–1971)
  • First player to score over 1000 goals (WHA and NHL, regular season and playoff combined)
  • First player to reach 1,500 games played in NHL history.
  • Most times leading NHL playoffs in scoring (six times)
  • Oldest player to play in NHL: 52 years, 11 days (no other player has played past the age of 48)
  • First in Red Wings history in points, goals and games played, second in assists
  • Most NHL All-Star Game appearances: 23

Canadian actor Michael Shanks portrayed Howe in the Hallmark movie Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story. The film aired April 28, 2013 on CBC and on the Hallmark Channel in the US on May 5.

We wish you speedy recovery, health and peace.

 
 

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Ride the Lobster!

Have you ever heard of the Ride the Lobster race? No matter what you envision, it’s not even close .

Ride the Lobster was the world’s longest unicycle race. This was an 800 kilometre international relay race around the roads of Nova Scotia. It was first conceived by Edward Wedler. He gave the race its unusual name because he thought the roadways around Nova Scotia resembled a lobster.

The five-day race had five stages, composed of four legs winding around the province of about 200 km each and one day of time trials. The first stage was from Yarmouth to Annapolis Royal. The second stage went to St. Margarets. The third stage was composed of two-time trials, Hubbards in the morning and Truro in the early evening. The fourth stage was from Truro to Antigonish. The final stage went from Port Hawkesbury to Baddeck. The event co-ordinator, Heather LeBlanc, intentionally made early stages easier for the contestants and the final stretch difficult.

Originally the race was meant to be held annually. After the first race in 2008, the organizers have not arranged subsequent races. I’m sorry to say I don’t know why.

Each team was composed of four people—three riders and one support person. The support person was not allowed to ride. The three riders took turns completing the distance of the race. The rider was not to be switched over for the first 10 kilometres of each race day. After that, the team had full discretion about how often they want to switch riders.

In 2008, the inaugural race began on June 16, with 104 riders (124 had qualified) on 35 teams from fourteen countries.

The race concluded in Cape Breton with contestants reaching the finish line between 5–7 pm on June 20. The winning team was awarded $5,000 in cash and prizes.

You can watch some of the event in these two YouTube videos. It’s pretty awesome!

1st place: Germany (Jan Logemann, Johannes Helck, Arne Tilgen, Holger Summer) in 36:17:47
2nd place: New Zealand (William Sklenars, Ken Looi, Tony Melton and Véronique Grégoire) in 36:35:46
3rd place: U.S. (Kevin Chang, Corbin Dunn, A.J. Greig and Sondra Grisham) in 37:17:18
4th place: U.S. and Canada (Roland Kays, Vincent Lemay, Steve Relles and David Kays) in 37:29:38
5th place: Australia, U.S. and U.K. (Geoffrey Huntley, Chuck Edwall, Sam Wakeling and Jonathan Marshall) in 37:52:05

To read more details about this, I highly recommend visiting The Cape Breton Post.

 

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Watch “Tim Hortons travels back to 1964 #Tims50th” on YouTube

Did you know Tim’s celebrating their 50th anniversary?  After seeing this video, I was disappointed they didn’t do this in Ottawa!  Enjoy, everyone!

Tim Hortons travels back to 1964 #Tims50th: http://youtu.be/iC18fuHmA00

 

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Black History Month Part Ten

In honour of the gold medal earned today in Sochi’s Men’s hockey, and still continuing with Black History Month, allow me to introduce you to Willie O’Ree, NHL player.

Willie Eldon O’Ree was born October 15, 1935, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, and is known best for being the first black player in the National Hockey League.

On January 18, 1958, he skated on the ice at the Montreal Forum to play his first game in the NHL — and made history.

Like any Canadian kid, Willie played hockey with his friends, and dreamed of playing professionally.  For O’Ree that dream came true. He became the first black player in the NHL. As a matter of fact, he was the only black player until another Canadian player, Mike Marson, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1974.

He played from 1957 to 1979 and was known for his speed and checking abilities.   Unfortunately, his career was cut short by an injury.

To learn more about Willie O’Ree, I would suggest going to Internet Hockey Database, and there is a CBC interview with him at YouTube. They are good places to start.

 

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