[Ed. Note: Some lists chronicle the best in hockey. Others the worst. Others the most memorable or greatest or essential. What Puck Daddy’s 2016 Summer Series seeks to do is capture those indefinable, quirky, oddities that occur every season. Moments that defy prediction or, in some cases, logical explanation. Welcome to WEIRD NHL.]
#1) Eddie Shore drives to Montreal, uphill both ways, in the snow.
There’s a great Old Time Hockey story, and you may have heard it before. Stan Fischler liked it so much he wrote it twice – once in 1964 and once in 2014. The details are a little fuzzy, but it’s a good story anyways.
Back in the day, in 1929, Eddie Shore was running late for the train to Montreal. It was a cold and snowy night, and his taxi broke down (or maybe it was his friend’s car – Stan Fischler told it differently 50 years ago). Anyways, his ride to North Station was delayed due to a breakdown. He arrived on the platform to see the train pulling away. Eddie ran to get on, but didn’t quite make it. He may have jumped off the end of the platform and just missed the back of the train, depending on the telling.
Eddie Shore knew he needed to be at the game because there was a hefty $500 – or $200 – fine for missing the train – or that his team needed him as they were short-handed already. Game reports around that time do support the second part. Anyways, Eddie knew he had to get to Montreal. So he hired a private car for $100 – or a wealthy friend lent him his car and driver – and they got on the wintry road.
After the driver wouldn’t go very fast – it was the middle of the night and snowing, remember – Eddie Shore took over. He brought them to an all-night car service and had chains put on the tires. It was cold and the snow kept up. The car only had one windshield wiper, and the snow piled up on it and it eventually froze solid. The windshield couldn’t be wiped. So Eddie Shore did the sensible thing – he took off the top half of the windshield. That poor chauffeur must have been beside himself.
So anyways, Eddie keeps on driving with half a windshield and chains on the tires. The chains eventually gave out, but Eddie stopped at a construction site on a cold Thursday morning, where a worker put new chains on the tires. Eddie continued on, exhausted. Early that afternoon, he asked the chauffeur to take over so he could nap. The driver agreed, and Eddie dipped into sleep, only to be awoken by the car careening into a deep ditch in the Quebec countryside.
So Eddie Shore hiked to a nearby farmhouse and a friendly Quebec farmer hitched up his tractor and took them to a local train station, where Eddie Shore took a train the rest of the way to Montreal. He showed up in the hotel lobby in Montreal on game day and promptly collapsed.
The old time hockey part of the story? He played the entire game that night – except for 2 minutes in the penalty box – and scored the only goal.
The game report from the Boston Globe archives doesn’t mention anything about this crazy trip, so either the beat reporter was missing in action or it didn’t happen.
Then again, never ruin a good story with the facts.
#2) Zdeno Chara dresses up – and down
Zdeno Chara is a mythical, legendary player that should have won like 4 Norris trophies, but the PHWA is trash. He’s also the tallest player to ever play in the NHL, and one of the heaviest in the league right now. He doesn’t have the prettiest face after a lifetime of hockey, but he also likes to help out in the community. The Bruins have a tradition of dressing up on Halloween and visiting a local children’s hospital. In 2011, Chara put on a full-body pink bunny suit:
Zdeno Chara’s body was also in ESPN’s very first “body” issue.
#3) The city of Boston gives Ray Bourque a personal Stanley Cup parade.
Late in Ray Bourque’s career, he had played for the Bruins for a very long time. He’d given up his number so Phil Esposito could have it retired:
He’d been to the finals twice, and lost to the stupid Oilers both times, which is why nobody likes Edmonton. Anyways, he got traded to Colorado’s superteam to win a championship. If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably seen the video already of him finally lifting the cup:
The funny part is that after that, the city of Boston gave him a Stanley Cup parade of his own. Well, at least a rally. Ray Bourque lifted the cup in front of city hall in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans:
Now stop driving drunk, Ray. You’re going to kill someone.
#4) The bear.
During the playoffs a few years ago, we got a new ad campaign of “The Bear” providing rules for fan conduct:
My personal favorites: Don’t date in the division, the Marc Savard holiday special, Victory Dance, and of course the fish-slapping goodness in “Don’t tuck.”
I hate fan-policing as a general rule, but these are hilarious.
#5) Mike Milbury climbs into the stands and is still a top talking head on NBC.
It was December 29, 1979. The Bruins were at Madison Square Garden, finishing up a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. In a scene out of Slapshot, the fans at MSG did something to annoy the Bruins. So, Terry O’Reilly (whose number is retired, mind) jumped over the glass and assaulted a fan. The rest of the team started joining him. Here’s the video:
The most memorable part is that Mike Milbury grabbed a shoe off of a fan’s foot and hit the fan with it!
The Bruins got 3 players suspended for 6-8 games each out of this, and the glass was raised at NHL rinks across the continent. Mike Milbury is now one of America’s top talking heads on hockey.
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About the author: Cornelius Hardenbergh is managing editor of Stanley Cup of Chowder. He’s been a Bruins Season Ticket Holder for the entire recent Black and Golden Age, since 2008. He’s still really excited about Matt Cooke getting bought out and PK Subban getting traded. Follow him on Twitter, if you dare: @hbadventure.