SC Rewind: Hockey & Horses I
Published: September 26, 2015 8:43 am ET
Last Comment: September 30, 2015 10:11 am ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
With the new NHL regular season just around the corner, Robert Smith offers up a reminiscence about that sport's earlier years in this week's Rewind. He also lists off a sampling of the many individuals who have combined hockey and harness racing in a variety of capacities.
Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice "The Rocket" Richard on the left pays a visit to the stable of Keith Waples (centre). While Keith may be be best known for his accomplishments in the sulky, he was also an excellent hockey player for many years. Montreal hockey players were often visitors at Richelieu Park and Blue Bonnets. On the right, well-known QUebec-based sportswriter Maurice 'Momo' Desjardins.
My first memories of our Country's great national game of hockey are quite different from what they might be today. First of all, what was then known as a "full schedule" of games meant that three games were being played. The Original Six each paired off, and that constituted a full night of action. The next memorable part was that the only "live" contact with a game for most of us was listening on the radio. Many famous voices existed back then but none were more revered than Foster Hewitt and Danny Gallivan. Although their styles differed greatly, they both brought the excitement and intensity of the game into our living rooms (or was it still a parlour back then?). Not many boys of my generation grew up without a Saturday night spent listening to Hockey Night In Canada. For me it also included a big bowl of popcorn!
Down through the years a lot of people involved with hockey were also some part of the sport of Canadian harness racing. Once again just why the two co-existed is not easily explained. I have listed a number of people who come to mind and displayed quite a few pictures to add to the story. This list has been compiled at random and if anyone wishes to add others please feel free to send in your favourite as there are a lot more that could be listed.
The late John Ferguson enjoyed a long career in the NHL playing on some of the great Montreal Canadien teams which won several Stanley Cups. He later became involved in the sport of harness racing. John was an owner and track executive and even coached hockey teams comprised of harness drivers. He is shown here at Harrisburg with trainer John Burns, who was also proficient in hockey at one time in his native Collingwood. (Courtesy Black Book Sales)
Left: Frank Salive was a standout goalie in his junior hockey days playing from 1972 - 1975 with the Peterborough Petes. He undoubtedly trained his now famous voice shouting at his defencemen. Eventually his remarkable dulcet tones carried him to the announcer's booth and his lifelong calling. This photo was taken at a World Junior Tournament in Moscow. Right: Jack (better known as "Blackjack") Stewart, a native of Pilot Mound, Manitoba, was a long time NHL defenceman and enforcer in the old six-team league. His accomplishments eventually earned him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Following his hockey days he served as a judge for many years at tracks in Michigan and in Canada. His wife was the former Lois Fraser and her family owned the famous Dr. Stanton. (NHL Legends)
Harry Lumley (left) was a star goaltender for several seasons in the NHL and later became involved in harness racing. He was part of the Dominion Motors stable as an owner and also served as a starter. The Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in his native Owen Sound, Ont. was named in his honour. He is pictured here with another great goalie Terry Sawchuk of Detroit.
Left: Rod Seiling a Hall of Fame defenceman was born and raised on the family standardbred farm at Elmira. He later served in a number of executive capacities including the O.R.C. His three brothers Ric, Don and Ken also combined hockey careers with harness racing. Rod is shown here as a proud member of Team Canada. Right: Goderich native Larry Jeffrey had a productive hockey career and later dabbled in the harness horse business as an owner and trainer. His hockey playing days preceded the big money era but his memories of that time period undoubtedly outweigh all other factors. He got to play with some of the game's greatest competitors with team mates such as Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Frank Mahovlich. He was a member of a famous team often referred to in Canadian hockey trivia and that was the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs when they last won Lord Stanley's Cup. While he missed the final game due to injuries, he became almost famous because his picture while on crutches behind the Leaf captain George Armstrong appeared in newspapers across the land. Larry is pictured here during his days in Detroit where he started his pro career. (Red Wings Alumni)
Serge Savard, a truly great hockey player mainly with the Canadiens, later turned his interests to harness racing. His name came into national prominence in 2008 when as part owner his great three-year-old Shadow Play won the Little Brown Jug. Here he is shown hoisting the Stanley Cup at the Forum.
Left: Gilles Villemure toiled many seasons in both the NHL and high minors as a goalie, often serving as a backup and patiently awaiting the opportunity to see more ice time. At the height of his career he shared a Vezina Trophy with Ed Giacomin. In the summers he worked around the horses at his native Trois Riveres, Quebec where the hockey rink was next to the track. He was a good enough driver that he did some driving at Roosevelt Raceway. He had his own horse Guy Bristol and did some catch driving for fellow Quebecer Roger White. He is pictured here with one of his stable stars. Right: Herb Dickenson. Following a standout career start in the Junior ranks, his hockey career was cut short when he received a serious eye injury while a member of the New York Rangers. He hails from Mount Hope, Ont. and is a member of one of the sport's longest serving families. His late father Allan was involved as the head of the C.T.A. for many years and the Bob & Bill Dickenson name is synonymous with horse auctions. Herb was unable to fully pursue his own hockey career but his founding of the Glanbrook Rangers team made it possible for hundreds of youngsters to enjoy the game.
Larry Gibbons - A native of Collingwood, Larry had a lengthy stint as a blueliner in the Chicago Blackhawks system and later coached at various levels. He has also had a long career as a driver, trainer and owner and along with his wife Colleen ran a tack business for many years. He is a member of the Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame as a hockey inductee.
Terry McDonnell - The harness racing community was recently saddened by Terry's passing. He spent an entire lifetime pursuing his two favourite things, harness racing and hockey and is equally well remembered for both sports.
Reg Mullholland - Originally from Kingston, Reg played his junior hockey on some of the best Peterborough Petes teams in the late 1950's (1959-61). His career as an owner, trainer and driver later took him to Sarnia and eventually Leamington where he is still actively involved. Perhaps his most memorable performer was a mare named Run Vera Run.