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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 22, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta Barbara was on the operating table; Brian was on the ice at the Gardens Anyway, I suppose that's why I wanted to talk to Brian' Clennie, a quiet guy who has to work harder than most players, skating a little slower than the blinding speedsters, wearing this droopy moustache that gives him a mournful look. We drank some beer while I tried to get him off the subject of the Leafs' three-week losing streak. "When you're Brian says, "winning is everything. There's no joy in the game, not when you're losing. But don't get me wrong I love hockey. I eat, sleep and drink the game. So if the Leafs ever start to win I'll start feeling human again. But right now, I'm liable to go home and Barb says, 'Let': go out tonight' But I don't want to go out. Someone would be sure to say to me, "What's wrong with the Leafs, Or, 'I hear you're going to be traded to another team.'" The Leafs won Saturday, I mention. Doesn't that make a differ- ence? "Not And every time I try to switch the subject from losing and Brian's depressed feelings, he comes back to it inevitably as a homing pigeon. "Ifs gotten so bad, I say to myself, 'Look Brian, you've got an education [Bachelor of Arts, psy- chology major and two years of phys- ical education at the University of you could go back to school and get the hell out of hockey for good.' Because it's stopped being fun. The only reason for playing the last three weeks is. money." Well, he's even got me depressed by now. He can't stop me from switching the subject when I'm writing. Lefs go two days back, to Saturday, November 20, the night the Leafs played the last- placed Washington Capitals in Maple Leaf I'm sitting in the gold seats near rinkside with sportswriter Dick Beddoes. Outside on the street, scalpers who hawk tickets at exorbi- tant prices to last-minute arrivals can't sell them for tonight's game. Inside, floodlights blaze down, hockey play- ers wing back and forth in the pre- game warmup. Sixteen thousand peo- ple buzz conversation; the press gallery is crowded (Dick Beddoes is sitting with me at ice level because he arranged my visit, and is making sure I get the whole "Caps are the worst team in Dick says, "at least the worst team in the National League. Leafs ought to win by six goals." "What if they "Don't ask that Harold Ballard [the Leafs' owner) is a sick The players glide across the ice easily and gracefully as swans, betray- ing no skills except skating. Some are in red Washington sweaters, others in leafs' white and blue. And I think, watching this blaze of color: nothing you see on television equals it, for this TV screen is wide as a city block, this noise is not electronic. Of course, the 4 Weekend Mwilne, ftb. tt, 1WS men are playing a children's game, arrested in a semi-permanent child- hood until retirement and the begin- nings of a potbelly. But definitely, the game is glamorous, for here the myth of hockey is perpetuated; the myth that says Canadians are the best hock- ey players in the world, from which we all derive national ego sustenance as necessary as mother's milk. And the kids coming up from smoky small-town where they used to open side windows, in days before artificial ice, so the rinks could freeze those kids know this brightly-lit arena is their goal, mecca of all their hopes for glory and money (not necessarily in that order of impor- Dale Alexander, the 29-year- old Leaf rookie who was delivering milk in a small town two years back he knows too. Dick Beddoes, who rejected offers from US newspapers to come to Toronto, also knows this is the Big Apple, Hogtown Toronto. "Will you sign my program, Mister a 10-year-old voice pipes close to my ear. "Of Dick says, "what's your first The kid glows. A few minutes later with the Leafs shorthanded from a penalty, Lanny McDonald gets a little too fancy stickhandling and loses the puck in- side his own blueline. A Washington player picks it up and, BOOM, scores. 1-0 for the Caps. Omigawd, here we go again! Three weeks losing, let's make it four! "Doesn't Dick says, "we'll get it (He has The Leafs look bad. Their passing is lousy, Clennie missed a bodycheck, nobody can put two things together long enough not to add up to one. Jim McKenny, the leafs' slide defenceman, is crashed into the boards, and I can see an expression of pain on his face the TV camera doesn't. He leaves the ice for repairs or rest. Kids' treble voices shriek, "Come on Leafs! Come on Hesitantly, sluggishly per- haps, the Leafs do start to come. They score. They score again. (The kids are ecstatic, they are all believers.) Darryl Sittler slides beautifully through the whole Washington team in the second period, and scores while upside-down in front of the net. A scrimmage in front of the Leafs' goal: Doug Fayell, the goalie, crashes painfully into the post, and squirms in non-phoney technicolor agony. He seems hurt when they help him off the ice. (Things happen so quickly I'm sure I missed much of it.) Of course we win I mean. Leafs win 7-1. And the ex-milkman, Dale Alexander, also scored a flukey goal from the point. At game's end Dick Beddoes has signed 25 programs, mostly for kids. I realize, with slight surprise, that my friend is famous: 15 of his autographs equal one Bobby Orr. Dick and I go to the Leafs' dressing room where the players are in various stages of undress. I dare mention mat no women are You look at these heroes nude and wonder at the difference uniforms make. Cowboy Bill Flett is tremendously muscled, but the other supermen seem ordinary. Dick chats with Doug Favell, who'd been replaced by Dune A family life is one consequence of a hockey marriage. As Barbara Clennie ruefully says: ;