Recently a friend of mine sent an article from Sports Illustrated detailing the things mosted missed from the good ol'days of baseball. I emailled some of my pals and asked them the same thing about hockey. What are some of the things you miss the most about the old days of hockey. Being that we are all at least in our late 30's and 40's, and all grew up in southern Ontario...alot of the answers pertain to our Maple Leafs and visiting The Gardens as youngsters. Here are some of the best memories of old time hockey that have gone by the wayside.
1. "The Bunker" at Maple Leaf Gardens
How cool and unique was it that the owner Harold Ballard and whomever was his GM of the year along with the legend King Clancy would sit and watch the game a mere twenty feet from the corner boards. The odd puck would even strafe their perch (some perhaps intentional) sending the old boys scattering.
2. Puck scuffs on the wall behind your head
Along the lines of number one, My buddy Song came up with this memory which I remember fondly as it can mean only one thing, you were sitting in the Gold seats. Once I was lucky enough to sit in the Garden Golds seats right behind the net. There were five or six rows crammed in front of the end brick wall of the arena, which was of course peppered consistenly with rubber.
3. Players wearing their numbers on their gloves and the outer heels of their skates
My pal Dupper came up with this one, and I love it. I'm not sure if the numbers were put on the equipment so the players could keep track of their stuff in the rooom, or simply a matter of pride. They certainly weren't for helping in identification from afar as they were too small. I suppose nowadays with multiple person equipment staffs and dressing room attendants, the threat of misplacing your equipment has vanished and with it the numbers on it.
4.Goalies with 2 hands on the stick
This one's from my friend JQ and he is older than me, but not by THAT much to actually have actually witnessed goalies holding the stick with two hands. It was a simpler time way back when and there was even a time when goalies were not aloud to even fall down. JQ is an old goalie from back in the day so I wont doubt him on this matter.
5. Danny Gallivan and his "cannonading" descriptions
This one is a great memory for any hockey fan that is old enough. Growing up in Ontario, we didn't hear Gallivan on HNIC for every game, but when the Leafs played the Habs he was an added treat.
6. Insanely curved sticks
These are no longer legal in the game, but at the dawn of the "banana blade" with Hull and Mikita there really was no limit.
7. No advertising on the boards
This one is self-explanatory and really didn't die out until the late '80s and early '90s. The boards really do seem naked now when you watch an old game with no ads on them, and that's the way it really should be.
8. Peter Puck
Created by Brian MacFarlane in the mid 70's, Peter Puck was an animated character that would explain the finer points of the game to newbies (Americans). I picked up a Peter Puck DVD last year and it still holds it's charm.
9. Pissing in a trough at Maple leaf Gardens
I was at a single 'A' Vancouver Canadians game this week and they have a trough at the aging Nat Bailey Stadium, but it's a metal one that hangs from the wall. The Gardens' troughs were beautifully tiled and stood from the floor to higher than the top of my head as a young kid. Truely daunting, and something you don't forget easily.
10. Al Iafrate's Hair