Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Goaltender Lorne Chabot gets a Penalty...Game Over.


I enjoy reading obscure hockey tales in old books and magazines and I enjoy even more doing a bit of research to either prove or disprove the accuracy of the actual events that happened whenever possible.
Here's a good one from the memories of Maple Leaf boss Conn Smythe.

The most baffling, most mystifying situation I've run into in hockey took place around the 1931/32 season. The layout of Boston Garden differs from Maple Leaf Gardens; there's no aisle around the rink just behind the boards in Boston. Many corridors, like the one in front of the dressing-rooms in Maple Leaf Gardens, extend from the rear promenade to rink-side, and the team's dressing-rooms are in one end of the rink, not at the sides.
On this particular night, I had been detained in our dressing-room by some Boston friends. I finally got away, to start the long walk down the rear promenade that would take me to the corridor leading out to the Leafs' bench at rinkside.
As I left the dressing-room, I knew by the noise of the crowd that the game had started. I was all by myself in the wide hall under the seats and I couldn't see the crowd or the ice surface. Seconds later, the crowd broke into wild cheering that only a goal can cause.
I scooted into the nearest corridor leading to rinkside, looked down the ice and couldn't see a goalie in our net. Lorne Chabot wasn't there; the goal cage was empty, and the scoreboard read Boston 1, Toronto 0.
Puzzled, I turned away from the boards and resumed my walk through the corridors toward the bench. I had just reached the rear promenade again when another outburst of cheering shook the rink.
I ducked into the next corridor and ran out to rinkside. There was still nobody wearing the big pads in he Leaf's net, and the scoreboard showed Boston 2, Toronto 0.
Now I really wondered what was going on!
By this time, I hadn't very far to go to reach our bench. This may read like an overdone movie script, but a third storm of cheering reached my ears, and for the third time, I ran back to rinkside. There was still no goalie in our cage, and the score was 3-0 Boston!
Just then referee Bill Stewart came skating along the boards. I reached out and grabbed his arm. After I had told him that I didn't know what was going on and hadn't seen a thing, Stewart rapidly explained the situation. During the very first rush of the game, Chabot had tripped Cooney Weiland, the Boston centre man, and had been sent to the penalty box. Goalies had to serve their penalties in those days. A defenceman or a forward had to take the goalie's place in the net. Alex Levinsky had attempted to act as our goalkeeper, and the Bruins promptly scored on him. That ended his career as twine-tender. Coach Dick Irvin then put big Red Horner into the net, in the hope that he'd fill up more space. Boston scored again. So, out came Horner, and into our net went Charlie Conacher. Another Boston shot was fired, and the score was 3-0. I think I was still shaking my head in disbelief when I finally got to our team's bench. 


A great little yarn by The Major, but did it really happen as he said? This one was fairly easy to check out thanks to Google News Archives and a few hockey database sites. Looking at the 1931/32 campaign, Toronto played in Boston three times. They as a matter of fact allowed at least three goals in all three games tying 3-3, losing 3-0 and losing 6-2 on March 15, 1932. Searching "Maple Leafs" with Google News around that date  I find a Canadian Press write-up in the Calgary Herald dated March 16, 1932. Bingo.

The story begins, "A penalty to Lorne Chabot, Toronto goalie, in the early minutes of play at Boston, spelled defeat for Maple Leafs. While Chabot rested in the penalty box, after referee Bill Stewart had waived him from the ice for tripping Weiland, Bruins ran in three easy goals, two by Marty Barry and the other by George Owen as Red Horner, King Clancy and Alex Levinsky took turns in the Toronto net." There you go! I wish they could all be this easy. Smythe's story had it perfect except for confusing Conacher for Clancy as one of the Leaf 'goalies'. The element of the story that Smythe fails to recall is what happened after he tracked down referee Stewart. The article mentions that Stewart "had to halt the action in the first period to order Manager Connie Smythe off the Toronto the Toronto bench after being grabbed by him. This episode turned into a minor riot when several of the Leafs engaged in arguments with the spectators."

Ahh yes, Old Tyme Hockey.



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