Monday, May 31, 2021

Game Sevens and Monmouth Whips

Back in the northern tundra when I was a wee lad we'd get a frequent visit from an old teammate of my pops' named Leo Labine. Mr. Labine had a long NHL career and now retired, he was selling something-or-other as a traveling salesman of sorts (long NHL careers didn't pay what they pay today, of course).  

He was quite the story teller, and as a sports kid I lapped them up. 

One was about a game seven where his Bruins were playing the Montreal Canadians in the Forum. The game (series, in fact) was extra rough and tumble; some serious #oldtimehockey. The Bruins goalie was smacked in the face with a shot, and the game was delayed as he got his broken nose patched up. There were no back up goalies, so with swollen eyes and a broken nose, back in the net he went. A couple of others were out with injury. Fights were numerous. 

In the second period it got even more interesting. Rocket Richard was flying down the wing and Mr. Labine levelled him with a vicious check, sending him airborne. The Rocket's head came crashing down on the ice. You could "hear a pin drop" as he lay unconscious, with blood pouring out of him. The trainer gave him smelling salts, he finally awoke, and his teammates led him to the dressing room. 

With the score tied late in the third, lo and behold, the Rocket reappeared - stitched up, with a blood-soaked bandage on his forehead - on the bench and the 15,000 at the Forum went crazy. He reportedly didn't even know who he was, or what the score was. He stepped on the ice for his dazed and confused shift and yes, scored the game winner, sending the Bruins and Mr. Labine home. 

Hopefully for hockey fans tonight's game 7 will be as exciting as that, but it sure as hell won't be like that

Meanwhile, on the Jersey Shore we've seen a couple of cards with jockeys not using whips. And boy, to me, does it ever look funny. My minds-eye is all discombobulated because of it. 

However, people are betting, the races are being raced, there's a winner and a bunch of losers resulting in people cashing or not cashing tickets. There have been no protests with signs "Make Monmouth Whip Again"; the world is not ending. After the culture shock of seeing hand rides, it feels like a whole lot of meh. 

Why is it even important, though? 

Well, in tonight's game seven Price might be hit in the face with a puck and it will simply bounce off. A vicious check where a player's (now mandated helmeted) head hits the ice will result in a trip to St. Mikes for evaluation, not a quick trip to the dressing room, with the player returning to the bench thinking he's a character from the Wizard of Oz. It's this way because things evolve in sports, via the expectations of society, and for the long term health of the game. 

The Monmouth "experiment" is the same thing, wrapped in a different bow. With society's views changing on how animals are treated for human entertainment this stuff is inevitable. And with the purse strings not controlled by handle, but from government help through slots and other subsidy, it's equally inevitable the sport responds. 

To keep the lights on, to feed the top funnel, to manage political risk, things change. Whether they make sense to us or not, or whether we want them to or not, it really doesn't matter.

Have a nice Monday everyone. And to the ever-numerous Leafs fans on the feed, Godspeed. 

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