That was Mr. Emmett Quinn's remark yesterday afternoon, when asked to give his version of the story of the killing of "Bud" McCourt at the Cornwall hockey match. Mr. Quinn was the referee, as he was the referee in the memorable Wanderer-Ottawa match when Blachford, Johnson and Hod Stuart was injured.
"The match was not particularly rough during the first part," he said, "but there seemed to have been bad blood between Throop and McCourt. To all appearances McCourt had assaulted Throop in the early part of the second half, for I saw that Throop had a big swelling on his head, and my judge of play saw McCourt threaten Throop, but neither he nor myself had seen any assault. The fatal assault took place about five or six minutes after the match had started in on the second half. Throop and McCourt were near the centre of the fence opposite the timekeeper's box and were both after the puck. As the puck moved towards the other side I turned and skated after it to be close to it, when I heard a shout from the crowd.
"This would go to show that besides the blow which Masson gave him, there was another blow struck, and I would give something to be able to say that I had seen what happened near that fence opposite the timers' box, when I had my back turned. The jury will have to find out what happened there.
"When I went into the dressing room to see him again after he had gone off the second time, I saw him lying on the slab where his wounds were being sewn up and he seemed to suffer greatly. So I told Reddy McMillan not to let him go out on the ice again. I did not think he was very seriously hurt, however, because during the time he was playing after his first absence he seemed to be all right. Once I collided with him and his skate caught in the leg of my trousers and made a hole there, and I told him, jokingly, that if he was not more careful I would have to charge him for a new pair of trousers, and he replied 'All right.'"
It happened on September 21, 1969 during a pre-season game in Ottawa. Kelly was calling the play-by-play for a St. Louis radio station that night. Early in the game, Green and Maki collided in the Boston zone. Linesman Ron Finn, officiating in only his fourth NHL game, was close by when they bumped, close enough to feel the breeze when Green turned and swung his stick viciously at Maki, missing him by a few inches. Maki retaliated instantly with a stick swing of his own, catching Green flush on his unprotected head. Green dropped to the ice and lay there, barely conscious and groaning.
“I could see right away that Green was badly hurt,” Kelly said. “When he tried to get up, his face was contorted and his legs began to buckle under him. It was dreadful. I almost became physically ill watching him struggle because I knew this was very, very serious. I remember it like it happened yesterday.”..........
......Green fell back, unable to help himself. Finn and the other officials waved for the trainer and a doctor. They too, sensed that Green was in serious trouble. Boston’s toughest player was rushed to hospital where doctors diagnosed a depressed fracture of the skull near the right temple. Five hours of [surgery] and a follow-up operation were required to save his life.
Following the game, the three officials were interviewed by Ottawa police. Then assault charges were laid against Green and Maki. Meanwhile, the NHL took disciplinary action, suspending both players and fining each $300. In retrospect, the suspensions and fines appeared to be ludicrous, although a league official called them “the stiffest in league annals.” Maki was suspended for 30 days and Green for 13 games “if and when he returns to hockey......
.....The game had not been televised so there were no replays of the incident. And no [professional photographs] taken. However, a 12-year-old boy at rinkside snapped a photo at the moment Green was struck. Finn said, “I heard later the kid made enough money off that photo to put himself through college.”
Kelly recalled his feelings for Maki. “Some of the Bruins–Orr and Ace Bailey and others–leaped off the bench and attacked Maki, who stood there, looking bewildered and vulnerable. At that moment I really admired Maki because the kid had to stand up for himself. Perhaps he was as shocked at what had happened as everybody in the building. You see, Green was such a renowned tough guy. And for this kid to stand up to him was a revelation. I think he stood up to him because he was terrified, like he was trapped in a corner. Maki was a rookie trying to make the Blues and this guy Green was an established veteran, one of the toughest men in hockey. I certainly wish—and I know Maki wished until the day he died–that he’d never hit Green. But he did hit him, and I remember thinking at the time, well, this kid is in big trouble but he has a lot of guts.”......
Weeks later, brought to trial, both players were exonerated in an Ottawa courtroom. Green’s injury, thought to be career-ending, kept him out of hockey for a year. In 1970-71 with a [metal plate] in his head, he made a stunning comeback with the Bruins. No longer the league’s toughest player, he was, however, a key performer in Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup in 1970. He jumped to the WHA in 1972 and played for another seven years, retiring in 1979.
Wayne Maki’s NHL career was cut short by a brain tumor, discovered when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks. He passed away from the disease in the spring of 1974.
Shortly after the Green-Maki incident, Boston coach Milt Schmidt purchased two dozen helmets and issued them to his players. When he showed up for practice the following day, none of the Bruins were wearing them. He ordered them to don the headgear or get off the ice. The players turned to look at Bobby Orr. Head down, Orr skated slowly off the ice, followed by his teammates. Schmidt decided not to make an issue of it and the helmets were stored away.
"this took place in 1960 when I was playing for Vancouver in the [Western Hockey League], a team owned by the New York Rangers. I was called up to the Rangers on Christmas Day and my first game was against the Montreal Canadiens. On their roster at that time was Jacques Plante, Boom‑Boom Geoffrion, Rocket Richard, Pocket Rocket, Dickie Moore and Jean Beliveau. They had a first place team and were headed for a fifth straight Stanley Cup. We had a sixth place team and were headed for the dumpster.”
Anyhow, I was fortunate enough to get a goal in my first game and I went on to play in another three games. Now I had played in four games and had two goals. Before the fifth game I was in the dressing room putting on my gear, and I must admit I was feeling pretty good about myself, pleased that I’d scored a couple of goals, and that I wasn’t on the ice for any of the goals scored against us, which was quite important in those days. So I was putting on my equipment (actually, it was Red Sullivan’s equipment because we were about the same size and he was injured). Camille Henry and Dean Prentice were also hurt and not playing. I had most of the equipment on when Alf Pike, the Rangers’ coach, came in the room and says to me, “Hey kid, take the stuff off, I think Camille Henry is ready to go.” I was disappointed but still, it was no big deal. I shrugged and began taking my equipment off. I’ve got it pretty well off when Alf Pike comes back in. This is like five to seven minutes later, and he says to me, “Hey kid, put your gear back on. We’re not sure Camille Henry can play after all.” So I’m all happy again, right? And I start putting my equipment back on, even though I’m beginning to wonder if I’m getting jerked around a little bit. But you didn’t dare say anything in those days, not as a rookie. Believe me. About ten minutes later, Pike comes back in again and he’s heading for me. I have most of my gear back on when he says, “Hey kid, we’re still not sure about Henry. I want you to get half dressed.”
Half dressed? At this point I guess I told myself that this had gone on long enough. I felt a bit foolish getting dressed and then undressed and dressed again. So I put the bottom part of my equipment on my jock, my shin pads and my hockey pants. Then, instead of lacing up my skates, I put my shoes on and then my shirt and tie. The other guys kept looking over at me and suddenly they began to laugh. I was standing there half-dressed, like I’d been told. The dressing room was in hysterics. Guys like Bathgate and Fontinato were making jokes about my wardrobe. I wish I could remember all their quips. And just then, sure enough, Alf Pike came trotting back in. He stood and gawked at me. Before he could say anything I said, “Hey, I’m half dressed like you told me.” He says, “Yeah, well take everything off. Camille Henry is ready to play.” I didn’t know it then, but I’d played my last game in the National Hockey League. I was sent back to the minors the following day.
Can you believe the Montreal Canadiens once considered starting a game without a goaltender?
On the final day of the 1969-70 NHL season, the Canadiens faced the Chicago Blackhawks at the Chicago Stadium. That season finale has often been called “the wildest game in NHL history.”
On the final day of the 1969-70 season, the battle to win a playoff berth was so close that any one of four teams–Chicago, Boston, Detroit or Montreal–could finish as high as first place or as low as fifth.
The duel for first place was between the Hawks and the Bruins. Detroit finished third after losing to the Rangers in an afternoon game. Now fourth place would go to either New York or Montreal, depending on how Montreal fared against the Hawks.
The Hawks badly wanted first place because they had finished deep in the league basement in the previous season. Never before had a team roared from last place to first in one year.
When they took the ice against the Habs, the Hawks kept glancing up at the out-of-town scoreboard. If Boston should beat Toronto in another matchup, the Hawks would be in a must-win situation against Montreal.But there was much more pressure on the Habs that night...........
Prior to Montreal’s crucial game with Chicago, Habs’ coach Claude Ruel, a chubby little guy who was blind in one eye, actually considered starting the game at the Chicago Stadium–without a netminder! He figured the Hawks would open up a big lead shooting into the Habs’ empty net. Then Chicago’s top players would be given a rest and Ruel’s Habs would go on to score at least five goals against rookie goaltender Tony Esposito.
Ruel came close to making a travesty of the game. I’m sure Toe Blake, Jean Beliveau and others told him to forget about the cock****-eyed strategy. The media and the fans would be all over him.As game time approached.........
Ruel was in a tough position. To ask his players to score five times against Tony Esposito—a goalie Montreal had owned and let go—was asking a lot. But the margin might have been more. In the afternoon contest, New York had pulled goalie Ed Giacomin when leading 8-3 in an effort to score two or three more goals.
When the Chicago-Montreal game got underway, the out-of-town scoreboard indicated that Boston, playing in an earlier time zone, would defeat the Leafs. Now the situation was clearer. The Hawks knew that first place was theirs — if they could defeat the Habs.
In the third period, Chicago was leading Montreal 3-2 on goals by Jim Pappin, Pit Martin and Bobby Hull. Suddenly, Martin scored two more goals and the game was virtually out of Montreal’s reach.
Ruel’s priority then became goals, not points. His Habs needed three more scores–and in a big hurry. There were nine minutes left on the clock when Ruel stunned the crowd by yanking Rogie Vachon. He was conceding first place to the Hawks. He didn’t care how many goals the Hawks scored. His players must score three or they were done like dinner.......
Despite the extra attacker, the Habs displayed hands of stone. They failed to get one decent shot on Esposito in almost half a period of hockey.
Meanwhile, the Hawks gleefully pumped goal after goal into Montreal’s empty net . The fans whooped it up when Eric Nesterenko, Cliff Koroll, Bobby Hull. Dennis Hull and Gerry Pinder all found the inviting target. At the buzzer, the score was 10-2. The Canadiens skated off in a daze, their playoff hopes squashed.
It was a bizarre moment in NHL history. In the off-season, the rules were changed to make team goal scoring irrelevant to the order of finish in the NHL standings.
The game is well-remembered for other reasons. The incredible finish saw a team score five empty net goals in a nine minute span–a hockey first. For the first time in history a team had soared from last place to first. Also for the first time, no Canadian team was part of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
You may wonder how the Blackhawks, with 99 points, fared in the 1970 playoffs. In the first round, they ousted Detroit in four straight games and by the same score each time–4-2. Then they ran into real grief against the Bruins and were swept in four straight. The Bruins went on to meet St. Louis in the finals and eliminated the expansion team in four games. The Bruins of Orr, Esposito and Cheevers captured the Stanley Cup with Orr providing the winning goal in overtime as he was pitchforked into the air by the Blues’ Noel Picard.
Everybody remembers Orr’s famous goal and the remarkable photo of it. But few will recall the bizarre series of circumstances leading up to it.
The only player to score 14 goals in a Stanley Cup game was Ottawa’s blond McGee, one of the greatest scorers to ever grip a hockey stick or lace on a pair of skates. He weighed all of 140 pounds—if that—but he was a whippet on the ice, a wonder.
More than a century has passed since he played for the Ottawa Silver Seven. They said he was the stuff of legends, and they were right People still write of McGee’s exploits today. Aware that sportswriters of the day wrote reams of copy about McGee, I culled old newspaper accounts of his Gretzky-like performances and the following, written by some long forgotten sportswriter, is a testament to his greatness:
"I followed McGee’s playing career and every match was the same. Away from home, for example, in a furious Stanley Cup series with the Montreal Wanderers, with about 6,000 people all howling “Get McGee!” I saw Frank knocked cold half a dozen times in the one match and honest, he survived to score the last two goals that won the game. No one could slow him up. My, but he was game! Taking the puck and beginning a series of slashing attacks, he finally sailed right into the mouth of the net with two defenders doing their best to eat him alive. He took a dozen nasty cracks and still scored one minute before time. Seconds later, he repeated the feat and was able to skate off smiling."
In the dressing room, when he doffed his clothes, he was simply cut all up but he was game. That’s why the Ottawa fans loved him, idolized him.
There was another write-up:
How McGee came to the rescue of the Ottawa Hockey Club in 1905, how he played despite the loss of sight in one eye caused by a lifted puck in Hawkesbury one night, how he paced the Stanley Cup in the never to be forgotten series against Kenora, how he brought defeat to the Winnipeg Rowing Club, how he scored 14 goals or more in a single game against Dawson City, how he became the sensation of hockey, his feats at fullback with the old Rough Rider football club—of these facts Frank’s friends and admirers could talk on forever. No player of the present day can approach his brilliance. He will never be surpassed.........
Billy Grant, sporting editor of the Calgary News-Telegram, once graphically described his first impressions of McGee.
They escorted me into an ice-cold rink and I wondered how people could stand the chill. Then someone cleared an aisle near me and I heard a strange clatter of steel as the Ottawa players clambered down the steps from their dressing room. The voices began to hum. Then a Wild roar of applause and thousands of excited voices wildly shouting “McGee! McGee! McGee!” I looked around for a big, rugged, broad-shouldered athlete, one who would gaze around theatrically and acknowledge the spontaneous roar of applause that greeted him. I asked a man, “Which one is McGee?” and drew in my breath when he pointed to a fair-haired, blue-eyed stripling who came down last. His hair was perfectly parted, as though he had just stepped out of a tonsorial parlour. His spotless white pants were creased to a knife-like edge, his boots had been polished. For a minute or so I stood spellbound. Then someone formally introduced us and McGee quickly pulled off his gauntlet and held out a soft but muscular hand. Then he jumped over the rail amidst another wild whoop of delight.
He seized the puck at center ice, skated in with the speed of a prairie cyclone and shot. I saw him backcheck furiously, dodge here and there, flash from side to side, stickhandle his way through a knot of struggling players, slap the puck into the open net and go down in a heap as he did so. Then I ceased to wonder why this boyish, doll-like hockey star was the idol of the crowd. I too joined in the hysterical shouting for Frank McGee, the world’s greatest hockey player.......
During his brief career, McGee played in only 23 regular- season games, but he averaged three goals per game. In the same time frame, he played in 11 Stanley Cup series, in which he scored an incredible 63 goals in 22 games. Again, just shy of three goals per game.
Despite the handicap of being blind in one eye, McGee served overseas in the First World War. He was killed on September. 16, 1916 during the great offensive on the Somme.
From one Ottawa newspaper:
None of Ottawa’s losses in the war will be more deeply regretted than that entailed in the death of Frank McGee who endeared himself to the sporting public as a member of the famous old Ottawa hockey team, the Silver Seven. McGee played center for the Stanley Cup holders at the height of their fame and was conceded to be one of the most brilliant and effective players who ever filled that position.
And from another:
Canadians who knew the sterling stuff of which Frank McGee was made were not surprised when he donned another and new kind of uniform and jumped into the greater and grimmer game of war. Just as in his sporting career he was always to be found in the thickest of the fray. There is no doubt that on the field of battle, Lieut. McGee knew no fear nor shunned any danger. The sympathy of his thousands of admirers will be extended to his family, which has suffered the loss of two (his brother Charles was killed a year earlier) noble members in the great struggle in France.
McGee was 35.
With the death of McGee, there passed one whose athletic fame will always be talked of, and one whose memory will never fade.