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Sunday Newsletter 2001-36Su.
September 9, 2001.
[Craig] Yes, we're late as usual. Despite the date above, this newsletter is being sent on September 14, three days after the worst terrorist attack ever in America and, quite possibly, the world. I accomplished almost nothing in the 48 hours after the attack, as I have read Web sites and newspapers, listened to the radio and watched the horrific images on television. We can't say anything that hasn't already been said, but John and I offer our condolences to the families and friends of those lost to this act of bestiality, including those of an acquaintance of mine.
We have a very different newsletter for you this week. John wrote a great Friday Feature this month. He wrote it on the history of hockey. It was scheduled to go out on September 7. I forgot to send it. Dumb. Combine that stupid act with the fact that John is overworked and now a week behind in getting newsletters to me to edit, and we have the makings of a hybrid between the Friday Feature I forgot to send and what John was able to get done by late Sunday afternoon for today's Sunday Newsletter. The result is a biography of Michael Ondaatje and John's hockey article. In order to help John get back to where he needs to be (writing newsletters a week ahead of time), I am going to write the next Sunday Newsletter. Please don't rush to cancel your subscription; my ego couldn't take it.
\\ TABLE OF CONTENTS //
\ Question of the week
\ Biography Michael Ondaatje
\ A history of hockey
\ Origins of the word
\ The Stanley Cup
\ The early years
\ Hockey humour
\ Links and resources
\ Legal and subscription information
\\ BIOGRAPHY //
Although not born in Canada, this novelist, poet and filmmaker has made our great land his home since 1962, and all of his eclectic successes on the world's stage have been enjoyed since establishing himself as a Canadian resident.
Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), on September 12, 1943. By the time he was 19 he was living in Canada, having already left his birth country for England at the age of nine after his parents separated due to his father's battle with alcoholism. He immigrated to Canada some 11 years later and found his home.
Ondaatje's brother, Christopher, has also dabbled in both the fiction and non-fiction genres, with about ten books released under his name. "Man-Eater of Punanai: A Journey of Discovery to the Jungles of Old Ceylon", a book that depicts their father, is one of his works which has won some awards.
Michael Ondaatje's first books of poetry include "The Dainty Monsters" (1967), "The Man with Seven Toes" (1969), "Rat Jelly" (1973), and "There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning to Do" (from 1979, a collection of poems which won a Governor General's Award). Other works of the non-poetic variety include; "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" (an account of the factual and fictional life of the notorious outlaw which won the Governor General's Award in 1970); "Come Through the Slaughter" (from 1976, which tells of the life of jazz musician Buddy Bolden); and "Running in the Family" (from 1982, which tells of the life of his parents and grandparents in Ceylon). His famous novels include "In the Skin of a Lion" (1987) and the Booker Prize-winning "The English Patient" (1992).
His winning of the Booker Prize was the first by a Canadian since its inception in 1969. Margaret Atwood, in 2000 for her book "The Blind Assassin", is the only other Canadian to join him in this achievement. The Booker Prize is a British award given annually. Only twice has the award been shared: The first time was in 1974 by Stanley Middleton ("Holiday") and Nadine Gordimer ("The Conservationist"); the second time was the year Ondaatje won for "The English Patient", when he shared the award with Barry Unsworth who won for his novel "Sacred Hunger".
Recently released by Ondaatje was the long awaited novel "Anil's Ghost", which also won the Governor Generals Award and the Giller Prize. Next year we can look forward to the planned release of "The Conversations: Walter Murch & the Art of Editing Film".
Ondaatje currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Linda Spalding, who is also a writer. Spalding has released two novels: "The Daughters of Captain Cook" and "The Paper Wife", both exploring womens' roles in a male-dominated society. She has also been credited with a number of non-fiction works, including "A Dark Place in the Jungle", which has stirred up considerable controversy.
Michael Ondaatje: An Overview
Panel discussion on "Anil's Ghost"
\\ A HISTORY OF HOCKEY //
Already we are entering another season here in Canada with the arrival of September. What should I select to write on? I'll keep it a mystery no longer and reveal that I am going to tell you all about some history of the sport of hockey in this country. (The title might have already given it away.) If you're looking for a lot of information on Mario "The Magnificent" Lemieux and his comeback last year, or any recent statistics and results, then this article won't be for you.
What I do intend to present below is some history behind this game that is our national pastime. I know, many may claim this to be the game of lacrosse. All I need to do is ask when was the last time you watched a lacrosse match on television, went to a game, or turned on the radio to listen to the play-by-play of a lacrosse game. Certainly, from a heritage standpoint, I believe that lacrosse was played first here in Canada; it has origins with the aboriginal population that existed in our land when Cartier and the gang started to invite themselves over. Now, don't get me wrong lacrosse is a wonderful sport, with many of hockey's characteristics but, simply put, it does not have the following hockey does in this country.
Actually, no sport in Canada can compete with the likes of Joe Malone, Punch Imlach, Maurice Richard, King Clancy, Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and, yes, even "Mario the Magnificent", to name but a few. For those around long enough or who have studied the record books, how can one forget the 1972 "Summit Series" between Canada and the Soviet Union, or Maurice Richard's incredible five-goal performance in a playoff game when he was selected the first, second and third star of the game?! Who can forget the riot his suspension created?
Enough of this enticement; it's time to get down to some history. This will only be an overview and, of course, there will be things I will omit or forget to include. After all, there have been thousands of books written on the sport and dozens on each major event or player. Therefore my attempt will be merely to present some of the history I have stumbled across and found interesting. I hope you enjoy the read.
Mario Lemieux Foundation
ESPN article on Lemieux comeback
A remembrance of the 1972 Canada vs. Soviet Union Summit Series
Rocket's Fire Lit Up Quebec
Maurice (Rocket) Richard stories archive
\\ ORIGINS OF THE WORD //
An examination of the origin of the word "hockey" and the origin of the sport itself could consume a full-length article in itself, but I will try and cover the topic as briefly as possible without missing too many details that I have discovered.
From the very old German languages, spoken through much of Europe over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, come the root words "hok" or "hak". These words can be traced back even further on the European continent, being derivatives of the word "keg" (which referred, at the time, to a bent piece of wood or metal, hence the rounded or bent wooden barrel holding beer or ale). Thus, from a bent piece a wood, we can follow the development of the words "hok" and "hak" into the English word "hook", which could have referred to either a keg or a bent piece of wood or metal.
To widen the scope a little more to include the Russian Empire we find the word "kogot", which means "iron claw" or "hook". Although French is descended from Latin, it also contains many Frankish words inherited from a Germanic people known as the Franks. "Hoquet", for example, is an old French word that has the same beginnings as "hook" it means "curved stick" or a "shepherd's crook or staff". Therefore is it possible that the Frankish word "hoquet" could be a distant cousin or even a direct predecessor of the word "hockey"?
Way back on November 5, 1785, English poet William Cowper said in a letter; "The boys at Olney (a market section of the town Buckinghamshire) have likewise a very entertaining sport, which commences annually on this day: they call it Hockey." Although his description goes on to include the "dashing" of each other with mud, could this passing of a mud ball be the prequel to the sport of hockey? A study of writings shows that the word "hockey", or "hawkey", started appearing in written form in the 1830s and 1840s, and its use increased and the meaning of the sport of slinging hardened mud with curved or bent sticks began to become clearer. In 1842 a traveller to India likened the game of polo to "the game of hockey, on horseback."
Mindless Crap on the origin of the word "hockey"
\\ THE STANLEY CUP //
What is the entire NHL season all about? The answer is easy: Every player, coach, manager, trainer and owner wants one thing the Stanley Cup. How did this award come into being? We first have to look at the gentleman who donated the trophy, which he presented to all Canadians in 1892. Who was this man? He was the son of British Prime Minister Edward Stanley, the 15th Earl of Derby. (In fact, Edward Stanley served as prime minister of Great Britain on three separate occasions during the last half of the 19th century.) As the son of such a politically important world figure, Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston and 16th Earl of Derby, was appointed to many roles by his father. It was he, Lord Stanley of Preston (as he is most often known), who donated the trophy during his tenure as governor general between 1888 and 1893.
His intent was designed to determine a Canadian hockey champion each year in a fair and uniform manner. To this end he appointed two trustees to devise a system of rules for challenges to and the presentation of the Cup. These trustees had a challenge of their own back in these days as there were many teams located all over Canada. How could one trophy serve the intended purpose in a time where it would sometimes takes weeks, not hours, to travel between each regional league and access their local champion?
Thus the challenge began with the Cup being presented for the first time in 1893 to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (Montreal AAA) in recognition of their winning the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada's championship. This was the first of four times, prior to the formation of the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1917, that the Cup was awarded without challenge. The first NHL team to win the Cup was the Toronto Arena's in 1918, after completion of the 1917-1918 season. The first loser was the Vancouver Millionaires.
Besides the AAA's four victorious seasons, Montreal was also represented by other teams who won challenges during this time. They were the Montreal Victorias, Shamrocks, Wanderers and Canadiens. Two Ottawa teams also won the championship; the Silver Seven and the Senators. Six other cities had representation as well: Toronto Blueshirts, Winnipeg Victorias, Kenora Thistles, Quebec Bulldogs, Vancouver Millionaires and, from the United States, the Seattle Metropolitans (who won the Cup in 1917 by defeating the previous year's winner, the Montreal Canadiens). This was the last time the Cup was awarded prior to the formation of the NHL. It would be another decade before the Cup was awarded to a team from outside of Canada, when the New York Rangers won in the 1927-1928 season.
The formation of the NHL signalled the elimination of amateur teams from Stanley Cup competition. In adapting to the changing times, the trustees decided that the paid, professional players of the NHL represented the best of the Dominion of Canada. Since it was Lord Stanley's wish that the Cup go to the best, the rules were changed so that the winner at the end of the professional league's season was awarded the Cup.
Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby
Complete list of Stanley Cup champions
Tales of the Stanley Cup
\\ THE EARLY YEARS //
There were only four clubs involved in the NHL's first season. Two teams represented Montreal (the Canadiens and the Wanderers) and one team represented each of Toronto and Ottawa. The Wanderers only played six of the scheduled 22 games that initial season as their arena burned down. The next year only three teams vied for the Stanley Cup, playing 18 games each: The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto's Arenas and the Ottawa Senators.
Although the NHL was the league of choice to receive the Stanley Cup, the League did not gain full control of the award until the end of the 1925-1926 season. For this reason we had some strange match-ups during these initial years. For example, one year Montreal defeated Ottawa but accepted a challenge to their title from the Pacific Coast Hockey Association's (PCHA) Seattle Metropolitans. After five games in which the series was tied with each team claiming two victories and a tie, fate intervened in the form of the Spanish Influenza pandemic that would eventually kill some 25 million people in North America between 1918 and 1920. Neither squad was immune and, by the time the sixth game was to be played, most of the Montreal team were in the hospital with the Seattle players not far behind. The series was cancelled, and this was the only year the Stanley Cup was not officially awarded although Montreal had originally won the Cup, they forfeited the honour by accepting Seattle's challenge.
Prior to the NHL assuming full control of the awarding of the Stanley Cup, the following teams competed for the Cup:
Season Winning Team Challenger/Loser 1919-1920 Ottawa Senators Seattle Metropolitans 1920-1921 Ottawa Senators Vancouver Millionaires 1921-1922 Toronto St. Patricks Vancouver Millionaires 1922-1923 Ottawa Senators Edmonton Eskimos and the Vancouver Maroons 1923-1924 Montreal Canadiens Calgary Tigers and the Vancouver Maroons 1924-1925 Victoria Cougars Montreal Canadiens (loser) 1925-1926 Montreal Maroons Victoria CougarsNote that the only year a challenger to the NHL winner actually won the Stanley Cup was in 1925. The Victoria Cougars had reinforced their roster with many of Seattle's best players, after the Metropolitans had folded the previous season bringing and end to the PCHA, and beat the Montreal Canadiens. That season was significant for another reason, as the NHL accepted its first American team in the form of the hapless Boston Bruins, who finished last and only won six of their scheduled 30 games.
The NHL now boasted six teams, but this was not what is referred to today as the "original six", nor was it yet hockey's "golden age" which coincided with the original six. During the 1925-1926 season, the League added two more American clubs; the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, they lost the Hamilton Tigers because NHL president Frank Calder suspended and fined the entire team when they refused to play extra playoff games for no extra pay. The Tigers never played again as a team.
The next season the League grew again, this time to ten teams with the addition of the Detroit Cougars (who became the Falcons and finally the Red Wings), the Chicago Black Hawks and the New York Rangers. Their season also grew to 44 games, and for the first time two divisions were formed with a Canadian Division (Ottawa, Montreal Canadiens and Maroons, Toronto and the New York Americans thrown in to keep things even) and the American Division (the New York Rangers, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit).
By the 1931-1932 season the League increased the number of games played to 48, but was back down to only four teams in each of the two divisions. The 48-game schedule stayed in place until the 1942-1943 season when it was increased to a 50-game schedule. In 1943, the Hockey Hall of Fame was founded. This was also the start of the above-mentioned "golden age" of hockey, as the "original six" teams from Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and New York continued to play almost unchanged until the first expansion in a quarter of a century occurred after the 1966-1967 season. The only real change that happened during this time was the increase in the number of games played each year. In 1946-1947 the 50-game schedule increased to 60 for three seasons, then expanded again to 70 games. This stayed steady until the expansion season of 1967-1968 when 74 games were played and the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Oakland Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues joined the League.
A to Z Encyclopaedia of Ice Hockey
Hockey Hall of Fame members listed by team
\\ STATISTICS //
Here are some demographics on NHL players, past and present, for those who may be interested.
Month of birth, most often to least often:
Ontario, with Canada's largest population, has obviously been the birth place of the most players. Here is a list of the provinces or territories, along with some cities and towns, ranked by the number of players hailing from each:
1. Ontario Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Kingston, Hamilton, Kitchener (formerly Berlin), Windsor and Peterborough.
2. Quebec Montreal, Quebec City, Rouyn-Noranda, Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, Verdun, Sherbrooke and Laval.
3. Alberta Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Camrose, Peace River and Viking.
4. Saskatchewan Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, North Battleford and Swift Current.
5. Manitoba Winnipeg, Brandon, St. Boniface, Flin Flon, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie and Dauphin.
6. British Columbia Vancouver, Trail, Victoria, Burnaby, Cranbrook, Kamloops, New Westminster, Surrey and Vernon.
7. Nova Scotia Halifax, Sydney, Antigonish, New Glasgow, North Sydney, Glace Bay and Truro.
8. New Brunswick Moncton, St. John, Fredericton, Campbellton, Bayfield, Chatham, Sussex and Woodstock.
9. Newfoundland St. John's, Grand Falls, Corner Brook and Labrador City.
10. Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, O'Leary and Summerdale.
11. Northwest Territories Inuvik, Yellowknife and Hay River.
12. Yukon Territory Whitehorse.
13. Nunavut None yet.
American-born players that have appeared on NHL roster over the years amount to about 12.5 percent of all NHL players. The top ten states that have been sources of players are:
4. New York
9. Rhode Island
Finally we deal with players born outside of either Canada or the United States. Each year this percentage increases and these countries have now out-produced the United States in providing NHL hockey players. Currently about 15 percent of players come from countries other than Canada and the United States. The top ten nations are:
3. Czech Republic
The Future on the Frozen Pond
\\ HOCKEY HUMOUR //
The top ten signs you're dating a hockey player:
10. Eating the last Fig Newton gets you bodychecked into the fridge.
9. He's very sensitive on the topic of "stick curvature".
8. After going out, he makes you line up and shake hands with all his ex-girlfriends.
7. It's bad enough that he consummates lovemaking by shouting, "He scores!" However, was it really necessary to install the red light above the bed?
6. During arguments he sends you to the penalty box for "two minutes for ticking me off".
5. He refuses to valet park the Zamboni.
4. For breakfast, he hands each kid a spoon and tosses a waffle in the middle of the table.
3. He demanded credit for an assist when you slept with his best friend.
2. Favourite restaurant: Dinner in a Blender.
1. Talks funny and likes to beat people up, but doesn't come from Alabama.
\\ PREVIEW //
Since we are five days late getting this out, it's a little difficult to predict what we will be including in this Sunday's Newsletter since, with the exception of a couple of regular features, we haven't started writing it yet. However, two subjects Craig will write on will be former Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker and Operation Morning Light.
[John] I hope you enjoyed the NHL primer. Enjoy the season.
== LINKS AND RESOURCES ==
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