Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Else But In The Eastern Hockey League?

Here's a fine job of stating why the EHL was more fun to watch than the NHL by the Baltimore Clippers beat writer Edward C. Atwater from "Sunlight on Sports" in the December 9, 1955 Baltimore Sun...
"Let them have their Rockets and their Pocket Rockets, their tie games, their low scores, their 20,000 screaming fans.

So they are big league -- the National Hockey League. We're the minors with the Clippers, and we like it. Where else but in the Eastern could you see results like 8-7, 7-6 and 3-2 and 4-3 in overtime all under the same smoky ceiling?

Where else could a team win, 11-1 on Sunday and lose 14-1 on Tuesday? Where else could three teams (Baltimore, Washington and Clinton) be tied for second -- two games off the pace -- with the season one-third gone?

So the league is populated with veterans on the way out and youngsters hoping to go up. Do you know a better combination? It's perfect for smoothness and calmness -- and for pure slam-bang flailing away, I-hope-I-hit-the-goal hockey.

We've got Bibber O'Hearn to glide down the ice, contemptuously faking foes to their knees, the fulfillment of his every man's desire to get rid of his enemies with a flick of the wrist.

And we've got youngsters -- Ken Murphy, Ralph DeLeo, Gerry Sullivan and the others -- with their great speed to buzz around the net and shoot, and shoot and finally to look and shoot and score.

And when that score comes, the roar will rock Carlin's rafters. Don't try to talk above it. The goal was made through a thousand shouted instructions and each coach shares in the exultation.

Don't sit next to Charley Rock, the owner. He'll split your ear drums as the battle flows and if it ebbs too far, he may sell you the franchise.

Fights? Yes, we've got them too, but nobody tries to wipe out the other side, plus the officials a la Richard. It's more like neighborhood boys grappling, punching the air, and pulling each other's sweaters off; or an exchange of calling cards to signify that one or both has reached the limit of sly nudges with the stick or skates or elbows or maybe just words.

The fights are minor, like the league is minor, but it's fun. Fun for the spectators at least.

Some of the players' fun may diminish at times. For instance, starting tomorrow, the Clippers will play seven games in nine days. They'll be in Clinton tomorrow night and home against Washington Sunday; at New Haven Tuesday and home against the same club Wednesday; at Philadelphia Friday, at Clinton again the following day, and then home against Clinton Sunday Dec. 18."
Three "youngsters hoping to go up" on that 1955-56 Baltimore Clippers team that Mr. Atwater didn't mention were John Muckler, John Brophy and the pictured Les Binkley. How fun must that have been? (btw, The Clippers jerseys were orange with black and white trim.)

1 comment:

  1. Best "lefty" goalie I saw in the EHL until Gilles Villemure came along.