||February 19, 2010
Hockey Violence in Perspective
Hockey violence, especially concussions are in the news
again with the recent incident with Patrice Cormier the Quebec Junior player
who, as Roy MacGregor said in the Globe & Mail “attempted to behead his opponent
with his elbow”. All hockey fans remember some of the particularly vicious hits
of McSorley, Bertuzzi and others. In reality when you look at the amount of
hockey played the violence is minimal but none the less questionable and
MacGregor’s headline “Badly bruised good-old game needs all the help it can get”
makes a good point but not the one I want to get into here. Today as an
historian I want to draw attention to some local history of the good-old game
with the emphasis on old.
My attention was recently drawn to North Bay’s early hockey history when I was
shown a 1912 copy of the North Bay Times one of North Bay’s newspapers at the
time along with the Nugget which survived it. It is clear that hockey violence
was around a hundred years ago.
||Article in the North Bay Times March 14, 1912,
North Bay Public Library
Ken and Bruce Craig in their remarkable 1997 book Blades on the Bay profiles
hockey’s start in North Bay. Before the turn of the century curlers had a couple
of crude rinks that were used by people for skating as well. Hockey eventually
became organized. In the early days the players had almost no padding, there
were no forward passes and there were 2, 30 minute periods.
Businessmen Fee & Mackey built a domed rink with an entrance on Ferguson Street
and extending east along Worthington where the Post Office is now. North Bay’s
first formal hockey team began in 1897.
Other teams followed and competition with other communities in all directions
began. There were eventually trophies for winning teams. One of the trophies was
the Mackie Cup. The 1912 article in the North Bay Times profiled a game between
North Bay and Sturgeon Falls in North Bay for the Mackie Cup.
The article noted that the game ended “in a most unfortunate manner to say the
least.” The referee James Lillie from North Bay was apparently taunted and had
stuff thrown at him. The bell the referee used to signal time was used by him on
the face of North Bay’s Eddie Bunyan breaking his nose and “changing his face
North Bay refused to go on with the game which was 5-4 for Sturgeon Falls. When
the crowd got on the street “considerable fighting took place and one North Bay
man was smashed with a bottle, breaking his nose.”
Photo of the domed Fee & Mackey Rink in North Bay from Blades on the Bay
The referee was arrested and charged with assault causing grievous bodily
harm. In court it was argued that things had been thrown at the referee and that
a Sturgeon Falls player had put a North Bay player “down for the count”. The
referee had been punched in the face. The charges were reduced and he paid a one
dollar fine. By the way, price on the newspaper was $1.00 per year in advance.
There was no indication how the series ended but a neutral referee was promised.
As everyone knows North Bay went on to be a remarkable hockey town and remains
so today. Check the Craig book out at the library to read about some of that
history and get out and watch the game as it is played today.
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