Monday, February 20, 2012

Red, White and Blue on Ice – Minnesota’s Elite Teams and Players of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s -

Minnesota, the State of Hockey, leads the nation in its devotion to Canada’s national game. Over 6400 players have played in the National Hockey League since its inception with the 1917-18 season. Minnesota outpaces Massachusetts and Michigan as the producer of American talent in the NHL. While much of that player development has taken place since the mid-1970s, the origins of this American hockey dominance can be traced to the 1890s. Minnesota was producing elite teams and players in the years before WWII.

Hockey historian Roger Godin tells this early story by taking readers through the seasons of five championship teams and one runner-up in both the minor league American Hockey Association (AHA) and the Central Hockey League (CHL) These teams were almost exclusively Minnesotan/American in the CHL and had a significant domestic content in the case of the AHA. Beyond the teams, Godin tells the stories of six elite Minnesota players, five of whom played in the NHL and who came out of this same time frame, 1926-42: forward Elwyn “Doc” Romnes, goaltender Mike Karakas, forward Carl “Cully” Dahlstrom, goaltender Hubert “Hub” Nelson, goaltender Frank Brimsek, and defenseman John Mariucci. It a story largely untold and fills a major void in the history of the great ice sport in the United States.


The Winnipeg Falcons

The sons of Icelandic immigrants and friends since boyhood, the Winnipeg Falcons were a superbly talented team of just eight players who brought home Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in hockey in 1920. But before they became world champions, the Falcons endured years of prejudice on and off the ice.

They also fought for their country and were heroes during the First World War.

Our guest in this edition of “Journeys into Hockey” is author and renowned hockey historian Eric Zweig, who brings to life the fascinating story of the little team that wouldn’t quit.


In Behind the Bench: A Biographical Directory of Professional Hockey Coaches Since 1904

Jeff Marcus goes all the way back to 1904, the date of the first openly professional hockey league, the International Hockey League.
He goes on to cover all the coaches in all of those early leagues including the Ontario Professional Hockey League, The Eastern Canada Hockey Association, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, the Western Canada Hockey League and the National Hockey Association. Of course, that NHA would later be reformed into the National Hockey League.
Marcus moves away from all the obscure pro leagues that littered the 20th century but does focus on all WHA and NHL coaches, right up until the current day.

We speak with Jeff Marcus about some of the best known coaches, some of the longest standing coaches and some of the most obscure coaches.


Great Players of the Golden Era

The hockey stars of the 1950s and ’60s—Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Bobby Hull, Jean Beliveau, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, and others—were some of the most passionate players in National Hockey League history. These skillful and often colorful athletes played exhilarating hockey and were national heroes in a time when only six teams and fewer than 150 players battled for the Stanley Cup.

Hockey’s Original Six (Greystone Books) celebrates the most dynamic players and exciting moments of the era in more than 120 photographs from the legendary Harold Barkley Archives, including a number of never—or rarely seen—images. From 1942 until the early ’70s, Barkley was the Toronto Star’s leading sports photographer. He pioneered the use of electronic flash to capture stop-action hockey, and his dramatic work—both black and white and vibrant color—define the pre-expansion period.

Our guest is Mike Lionetti, hockey-historian, archivist and sports writers, who authors two essays in the book that compliment and provide context to the classic Barclay photos (Jean BĂ©liveau—hockey legend and elder statesman—provides a personal and insightful foreword).

More about the guest: Mike Leonetti has written more than twenty-five books, including best-selling hockey titles such as Hockey Now, Maple Leaf Legends, Canadiens Legends, and Maple Leafs Top 100. He has also written several best-selling children’s picture books, including My Leafs Sweater, A Hero Named Howe, Number Four, Bobby Orr, and Wendel and the Great One. He owns an extensive archive of hockey photographs and memorabilia-including the Harold Barkley Archives-and is a walking encyclopedia of Maple Leafs trivia. He lives in Woodbridge, Ontario


The Big Train – Lionel Conacher, A Canadian Icon

Lionel Pretoria Conacher, (May 24, 1900 –May 26, 1954), nicknamed “The Big Train”, was a Canadian athlete and politician. Voted the country’s top athlete of the first half of the 20th century, he remains a Canadian icon half a century after his passing.

Conacher has been described by some as the Jim Thorpe of Canada. He won championships in numerous sports. His first passion was football; he was a member of the 1921 Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts. He was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team that won the International League championship in 1926.

In hockey, he won a Memorial Cup in 1920, and the Stanley Cup twice: with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1934 and the Montreal Maroons in 1935.

In addition, he won wrestling, boxing and lacrosse championships during his playing career.

Conacher retired as an athlete in 1937 to enter politics. He won election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1937, and in 1949 won a seat in the House of Commons. Many of his political positions revolved around sports. He worked to eliminate corruption in boxing while serving as an MPP in Ontario, also serving as the chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission. Additionally, he served a term as director of recreation and entertainment for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was also on the sporting pitch that Conacher died: He suffered a heart attack during a softball game in 1954.

This week’s guest Rick Brignall has written of Lionel Conacher. He shares with us the story of his book – (Big Train: The Legendary Ironman of Sport, Lionel Conacher (Lorimer; 2009), and the story of Lionel Conacher


The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk that Changed the NHL Forever

It was March 1965 when Clarence Campbell, president of the National Hockey League, emerged from a long board meeting and announced that the NHL would double in size beginning with the 1967-68 season. Fans loyal to the “Original Six” were furious. Owners were irate. In The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk that Changed the NHL Forever, hockey expert Alan Bass profiles the power brokers and provides an in-depth study of the decision and its revolutionary impact on the game.

Bass, a former hockey player and freelance sports writer, relies on thorough research, interviews, and first-person accounts in order to reach into the past and uncover the mystery of a behind-closed-doors decision that seemed improbable at the time. As he profiles the powerful owners, media moguls, and die-hard sportsmen involved in the politics and backroom dealings, Bass shares a never-before-seen glimpse into how the decision forever impacted professional hockey in North America.

The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk that Changed the NHL Forever is not only an important documentation of Clarence Campbell’s bold move of doubling the number of NHL franchises, but also provides an unforgettable look back into the history of pro hockey in North America.


From the Journeys into Hockey Archives: The Retuen of the Jets to Winnipeg

Recorded: September, 2011

Hockey – NHL style is back in Winnipeg, and folks there are excited about it.

In this Journey into Hockey, we speak with Jon Waldman, editor and writer from Winnipeg, about the Jets, their return to town and just what has been going on there since the announcement this summer.

We also speak with Jon about a new book all about the Jets – old and new.


On The Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver (Before the Riots of 2011)

Taped in June 2011

It’s been a while for Vancouver.

They last won a Stanley Cup in 1915 when a team called the Millionaires of the PCHA, coached by Frank Patrick, brought home the cup after conquering over the Ottawa Senators of the NHA.

The millionaires made it back to the Finals in 1918 but then lost that year to Toronto (no nickname).

The Canucks have been in the NHL for 40 years and this is their third cup final appearance – having lost to New York teams their first two times – Islanders in 1982 and the Rangers in ’94.

We speak with Greg Douglas, a longtime fixture on the Vancouver hockey season as former PR director of Canucks.

We ask him just what it’s like to be in town these days and what it’s like for someone who has seen the town and the Canucks through thick and thin.

Editor’s Note: Taped before Game 7 and the riots.


Rod Phillips: Voice of the Oilers

In this Journey into Hockey we speak with a voice of the game, the legendary Rod Phillips, longtime voice of the Edmonton Oilers.

He broadcast his first Oilers game in 1973 when they were part of the WHA, and was there for the Wayne Gretzky and Stanley Cup yaers. He is most famous for his loud, long scream of “scoooooooooores!!!!!”, considered a classic for Oilers fans. Many fans attending games are known to bring radio sets with them to listen to his broadcasts and many people watching games on television will listen to his play-by-play commentary instead of the television’s. In 2003, Phillips received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame.


Voices of Hockey: John Kelly & Dan Kelly

In this Journey in to Hockey we speak with one of the voices of the game.

John Kelly (born 1960 in Ottawa, Ontario) is play-by-play broadcast announcer for the St. Louis Blues.

He is the son of the late Dan Kelly.

John Kelly joined his father in the broadcast booth, for a game in November 1988, as Dan Kelly announced his final game, in which the Blues defeated the Flyers for the first time in Philadelphia since January 6, 1972. Those who follow such things say that he has embraced some of the intonations of his late Dad. We talk with John Kelly about his Dad, his Dad’s legacy, as well as hockey broadcasting then and now.


Hockey Nights in Calgary

(Taped in May, 2011)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first of two Calgary Flames-Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Finals in the 1980′s.

Montreal won the first meeting in 1986. Calgary won one for Lanny McDonald in ’89.

To mark this era as well as the playing of the “Heritage Classic” this winter in Calgary, we had the chance to speak with former Flames start Jim Peplinski about that era and about hockey in Calgary.

The Jets Recalled as the NHL Returns to Winnipeg

As the N.H.L. version of hockey is set to return to Winnipeg, we look back at the Jets.

From Bobby Hull to Swedish imports to Avco Cups to Dale Hawerchuk to White Outs to Goals For Kids to the great farewell, there were many of important moments for the Jets – from their early WHA days until the time they left town for the Arizona desert.

Our guest is Glenn Tinley, a multi-media business person in Winnipeg and publisher of The Winnipeg Jets – A Celebration of Hockey in Winnipeg (Studio Publications).

We taped this interview on the day that the announcement was made of the transfer of the Thrashers from Atlanta, so there was plenty to talk about from the Jets of the past to feelings today and hopes for the future for the folks in Winnipeg.