Original Six matchup good for a trip down memory lane
One of the few benefits of being older is the catalog of memories.
The problem, of course, is that sometimes the mind is so clogged it's difficult to remember any of them.
A trigger is required and the NHL has provided one with the first Stanley Cup Finals matchup between Original Six teams since 1979.
Today's youngsters meaning anyone under 50 might not understand the significance. Well, kiddies, get used to the hype. You're going to be hearing a lot about it the next couple weeks as the Blackhawks and Bruins compete for a championship.
The Original Six were French Canadian brothers who went on to play for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1940s. Their last name was "le Pew," which is French for "the Sutter." The real irony is that each had the first name Peppy.
"Hi," the oldest would say, "my name is Peppy, and this is my brother Peppy, and this is my other brother Peppy, and this is my other brother Peppy "
What? You say that isn't true? It's just a myth perpetuated down through hockey history?
Actually the Original Six were the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. They comprised the entire NHL until the league decided to expand rapidly on the way to becoming the Oversized Thirty.
The Original Six are worshipped because they provide their hometowns and the sport itself with a historical context dating back to when water first became ice.
Everything that happens today in, say, Chicago and Boston relates to something that happened decades ago and was handed down from generation to generation.
The Hawks' recent semifinal series clincher over the Red Wings transported me back to events and players from my childhood. Something would happen, ignite visions of the past and dispatch me to Google to fill in the memory lapses.
Like, there were the Hawks' remarkable penalty killing statistics throughout the postseason. They reminded me of a guy named Glen Skov, who handled the assignment for them more than a half-century ago.
According to Google, Skov won multiple Cups with the Wings before joining the Hawks. After ending his career elsewhere he settled right back here in the suburbs.
Then there was the moment against the Wings when the Hawks' go-ahead goal was waved off because a referee called coincidental penalties. I expected Hawks' fans to riot because that's what they did at a playoff game against the Canadiens in 1959.
I watched from the first balcony as a couple Hawks went down, referee Red Storey didn't whistle penalties, a few fans came onto the ice after him, Montreal players used their sticks to protect the ref, the Hawks lost and the officiating crew needed a police escort out of the Chicago Stadium.
Ah, the good-old, less-civil days.
Finally the Hawks and Wings went to overtime and every playoff OT conjures memories of a game in 1961. I was in bed listening on a small transistor radio deep into the morning when Murray Balfour scored the winner deep into the third extra session.
Fast forwarding, starting Wednesday night it'll be the Hawks and Bruins, two of the Original Six, prompting longtime Chicago and Boston hockey fans to reminisce.
Already I grimace at the memory of a Bruin, maybe a brute named Peppy, dribbling Keith Magnuson's head on the ice during a 1970s brawl.
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