This is the second in a series of examinations of legends related to Hockey and whether they are true or false.
HOCKEY LEGEND: There was a remarkable act of almost instant karma in a 2001 Chicago Blackhawks/Colorado Avalanche game.
On January 26, 2001, the Chicago Blackhawks visited Colorado to take on the Avalanche in a fairly standard regular season game – the Blackhawks lost 5-2 to go three games under .500 on their way to their fifth straight losing season (and fourth straight season missing the playoffs) while the Avalanche won on the way to their second Stanley Cup championship.
However, one very NON standard event took place during the game, and it involved the Blackhawks’ leading scorer, Steve Sullivan.
Early in the game, Sullivan was hit by a high stick….
As you might imagine, that did some damage to Sullivan’s face…
While he was dealing with his injury, some Colorado Avalanche fan decided to be a total jerk and taunt Sullivan over his injury…
Totally low class move, right?
Well, anyhow, Sullivan gets his injury addressed and then goes on to score not one, but TWO shorthanded goals (granted, in a losing effort, but still!).
And then, the best part – late in the game, the Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy deflects a shot on goal. The puck goes flying into the crowd, and who does it hit in the face but…yep, you guessed it!!!
And, of course, Sullivan goes over to talk some “smack” of his own, which the fan does not like…
The best part is when the fan’s female friend/wife/girlfriend/whatever takes a break from putting a towel on the guy’s injury to laugh and give Sullivan a thumbs up!!!
Can you imagine a more direct example of karma?
HOCKEY LEGEND: The Detroit Red Wings used to lend their trainer to other teams if they needed a goalie for a game.
As mentioned in an edition of Baseball Legends Revealed, teams in sports used to have an entirely different idea of what was sporting and what was not, and just like how baseball teams once allowed their opponents “courtesy runners” when players were injured, Hockey used to have a similar practice.
Ross “Lefty” Wilson was a pretty good goaltender when he was in his teens during the late 1930s, and he bummed around various hockey leagues before taking some time off from the sport in the early 1940s. He returned to hockey in the mid-40s, but soon took up what became his life’s career, working as an assistant trainer for the Detroit Red Wings.
Here he is early in his tenure with the club (he’s the first man in the picture, all the way to the left)…
He stayed with the team for the rest of his career, working as their head trainer from 1950 to 1982!
He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955 (his name’s on the Cup).
Back in the 1950s, hockey teams didn’t carry back-up goalies. Usually, they would have an amateur goalie ready to go in if need be. Well, that’s just what happened in 1953, when Wilson made his NHL debut filling in for the Red Wings’ Hall of Fame goalie, Terry Sawchuk, in the final minutes of a Detroit loss.
However, even odder than that, in 1956, when the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Hall of Fame goalie Harry Lumley was injured at the end of a Toronto/Detroit game, the Red Wings actually loaned Toronto the use of Wilson!!! The Red Wings were up 4-1 at the time and there were only 13 minutes left, and that’s how the game ended.
Amazingly enough, though, Wilson got into a THIRD NHL game the next year, as the Boston Bruins’ goalie Don Simmons was injured in a game against the Red Wings. This time, though, the injury happened early in the game, and Wilson had to play over 50 minutes of the game, which ended in a 2-2 tie!!! Yep, the Red Wings’ own trainer tied them in a game!! As he said years later, he didn’t want to hear the players teasing him when he went to sew them up the next day!
Isn’t that a nice story of good sportsmanship?
Lefty Wilson passed away in 2002 a Red Wings legend.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org