Archives for posts with tag: Hockey


I don’t know about the old guys, I heard
they could be kind of serious on set. All
we did was have a ball. I wish Boo-boo
was here to tell his side of it. That was a
sad day when we lost Boo-boo. Cancer.
Off camera, you never saw him without
a cigarette. That came from his Army days.
When? He served in Korea. I have no idea what
he did. I thought there was a height restriction
but if there was it didn’t apply to him. I’ll tell
you, he could scare the hell out of you if he
wanted to. One very ferocious little bear was
our Boo-boo. But oh the sense of humour!
Poop jokes were his favourite. More than once
when Ranger Smith found the pickanick basket
there was a ripe Boo-boo turd in it. Some of
those shots where we’re laughing together,
they were completely unrehearsed. Camera
would catch us watching Ranger Smith open
a basket full of crap, and we’d just lose it. Smith
was an OK guy for a hooman, but he couldn’t take
a joke. I guess he just didn’t get bear humour.
With Boo-boo gone and Ranger Smith left,
it seems like a joke gone wrong. If we have to
do a show now, we can always find some bruin
who can stand in for Boo-boo but it’s not the same.
OK, let’s not us dwell ‘pon the painful stuff.
Here’s something. You know the running sounds
they used for us? That was all Speedy Gonzalez.
He has these Mexican drums, congas, timbales,
all kinds of things and he gets on those with his big
feet and man it sounds like Gene Krupa had babies!
He’s an amazing musician, which, a lot of people don’t know.

The strangest time was the late Sixties, early
Seventies. For some reason, all these hippies
decided, because of the name, I was enlightened.
They’d camp out on my front lawn, hoping
to meditate with me, nonsense like that.
I have an old scattergun I keep as a memento
of how hoomans have hunted us since time
began. It was loaded with buckshot, ready to go,
I mean I was ready to go out and enlighten them
with a load in the butt. I had no time for that hippie
crap. Fortunately, my agent was there. He talked
me out it. That’s how the press got that big story
about me talking to the hippies on my front lawn.
My agent called them! Told me to go out and get
some good publicity. You never heard of it?
It was big news in all of L.A. for Pete’s sake!
You sure you never heard of it? OK, I went out
on the lawn all steamed about these hippies
camping there, leaving all their shit everywhere.
I called them all into a circle. Once I did that the
press crowded around, which really turned the hippies
on, as all they really wanted was attention, then
I told them I was going to enlighten them but only
once so they had to pay attention, and if I did they were
all going to pack up and go. I made them all solemnly
promise. All the cameras went click clickety click
and I gave them a speech which became kind of famous
for awhile; I’m surprised you never heard of it.
“America is built on a tripod of a strong work ethic,
good fun, and healthy nutrition. You want enlightenment?
Go home. Clean up. Cut your hair. Get a job. Three squares
a day. Roof over your head. Upstanding member of the
community. Regular Jack or Jill. That’s it. Now split!”
I would have added “like a banana” but that might
have made them think I wanted them to stick around.

Yeah, I’ve totally gotten into skating.
Ever since the Ice Capades. Gives you this sense
of freedom that’s even better than running naked
in the woods. That’s a joke sweetheart. I do wear
the hat and tie. Got to rise above the animal, you
know. Where was I? Yeah, Skating. I’m thinking
of getting into hockey. I heard there’s this kid,
Charlie Brown, putting together a team of cartoony folk
to play some movie stars and NHL vets for charity.
I’m going to check into that. What position?
Center, baby, center. When I get that puck, it’s mine.
You want it, you gotta take it away from me.

(The big friendly bear first premiered in 1958 as a secondary character on the Huckleberry Hound Show, but once he hit the big time he never looked back. GG)

At the centre of the circle of the Champions of the
World, Mario Lemieux hoists the Cup, kisses its silver
thigh, the names of men where his will soon be cut
with a finish pure as a mirror; around him, the
tumult. And Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach
in the NHL, named his first son Stanley when his
Canadiens won it in ’73 with a stonewall blueline and
a dizzying transition game. Every player on every
team who ever won the Cup gets to take it home; it
has partied on front lawns, swimming pools and in
the trunks of cars, and even the guy who left it by
the side of the road and drove away, still he thinks
of it as holy. And that word — holy — appears most
in the conversation of veterans who know how the
touch fades, the shoulder takes longer between days
of easy movement, how Bobby Hull passed on his
chance to drink champagne from its lip when the
Hawks won it ‘61 because he thought there’d be so
many in his life. Some take the Cup apart, clean the
rings, make minor repairs in their basements, and
then inscribe on the inside of the column the un-
official log of their intimate knowledge: This way
I have loved you.

<RH note — This one was published in 1994 in Hero of the Play, my book of 50 poems “in the language of hockey” as the notes on the book go. I was really interested in this book one to see how far I could take the metaphors and events in the game, how much of the rest of what a poem could speak of if I restricted myself to the terminology of hockey (or to writing about hockey in itself). I worked on the book for 4 years, reading very little but hockey journalism, stats pages and books. The result was a happy one. Though I found that the language of hockey had its limits, it could still do a lot, it could still reach out to things not-hockey and give them a life in its own words. The book also did very well. I launched it at the Hockey Hall of Fame in ’94, and at the Saddledome in ’95. It was reissued in 2004 as a 10th anniversary edition. We launched that one with a street hockey game: poets vs novelists. Final score: 1:1.>

© Richard Harrison

Hockey is the sport of sinners.
Games are decided by penalties —
hypocrisy made flesh, the world made real.

Hockey is a game of mayhem and violence
(much like life) which (purports) to control
itself (much like nations proclaim.) So, penalties
become exercises in proportion, matters of spin
and perception. Because the effect of penalties
is constant — the loss of one warrior can lead to defeat.
But how do you manage warriors? There lies=
the hypocrisy — we want to profit by sin, then
punish it, and then determine the only possible
verdict that will do — you lose.

To vicariously participate in the rout,
be part of its apprehension, and pass swift
judgment — that is true sport and that is why
hockey is sin, because everyone loves to judge
and hanging is just too quick.

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