Retired Pro George Morrison recalls an embarrassing moment in his career when he toiled for the St. Louis Blues.
"I was never coach Scotty Bowman's favourite player," said Morrison, "and I was even less popular with him after a caper I pulled during a game at the Los Angeles Forum."
"During the game in L.A. it looked like the same old story I was told to suit up but not to count on getting much ice time."
"It was late in the game and I'd warmed the bench all evening. Suddenly I realized I was very hungry. Well, next to me at the end of the bench I saw an usher eyeing my hockey stick. So I whispered to him, 'Pal, get me a hot dog, will you, and I'll give you my stick after the game.' The usher was back in a flash with the hot dog, and I was just sneaking my first bite (I waited until Scotty was looking the other way) when Bowman yelled at me, 'Morrison, get out there and kill that penalty!' "
"What to do? As I leaped over the boards, I stuffed the hot dog down the cuff of my hockey glove. I didn't know what else to do with it. And wouldn't you know, seconds later, someone slammed into me in front of our net. Hit me so hard the hot dog popped free of my glove and flew up in the air. Our goalie made a stab at it and tried to knock it to one side while the other players ducked the flying relish and mustard."
When Bernie Parent joined the Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA, he wore jersey number 00. If a curious member of the media asked him why he chose those numerals, he would reply, "Every time a puck gets past me and I look back in the net, I say 'Oh, oh.' "
In the Spring of 1973, the Boston Bruins were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. During the series, Bruins star Phil Esposito was nailed by a Ron Harris check and taken to a Boston hospital where doctors diagnosed torn knee ligaments. The star centreman's leg was encased in a cast to protect the injury.
When the Boston players decided to hold a postseason farewell party, one of them suggested that the affair "just wouldn't be the same without Esposito, our team leader." The others agreed and went to the hospital to get him.
While two of the Bruins, posing as security men, distracted hospital personnel, several other players wheeled Esposito, still in his hospital bed, out of the hospital breaking a metal railing on the way. Led by Wayne Cashman and Bobby Orr, the hospital bed and its famous occupant rolled down the street to the party. At one busy corner, Orr yelled, "Signal a left Phil," and Espo's arm shot out from under the sheets.
Hospital officials were not amused by the Bruins' prank and charged the team $400 for damage to hospital property.
The bill was dealt with in a predictable manner. While Espo slept, his mates slipped the invoice under his pillow.
At the Montreal Forum in an era when it was customary to protect good shoe leather in the winter, fans celebrated a big goal by the Rocket, Boom Boom or Big Jean by throwing toe rubbers on the ice. Former Chicago Black Hawk winger Dennis Hull likes to tell about the time his father took him aside before a big game at the Forum. Anticipating a fatherly pep talk, Dennis was surprised to hear his father say, "Son, when the Habs score tonight and the rubbers hit the ice, grab me a good pair, will you? Size ten."
The Boston Bruins were one of the first NHL clubs to sign a Swedish player. They had high hopes for Sven (Tumba) Johanson, a four-time Olympian. However Johanson's stay in the NHL was brief, mainly because of a practical joke he concocted.
On his return to Sweden, Johanson said, "I saw that they all joked around with each other in the dressing room, and I wanted to be part of it. So I asked myself what I could do to become accepted by them. Well, I noticed that they all put their false teeth in little cups before a game or practice. So I thought I'd have some fun. When they went onto the ice, I sneaked back into the room and switched all their teeth around. When they came back in, they found that none of their teeth fitted."
"Did they laugh at my little prank? No, were they ever mad. And they knew it was me who'd done it because I was laughing like crazy. From then on it was very cool between us, and a few days later the manager took me aside and told me he was sending me back to Sweden."
Brian McFarlane's newest sports books:
The Bruins (number 5 of his Original Six team histories) by Stoddart Publishing Company Limited.
Ultimate Hockey Quiz Books by Key Porter.
Stanley Cup Fever (updated) by Stoddart Publishing Company Limited.
The preceding is the second installment of condensed excerpts from Brian McFarlane's bestselling three-volume collection "It Happened In Hockey." Brian is a Hockey Hall of Fame Media Honouree (1995) and author of over 50 sports books, including the Peter Puck series.