Carry on, men

A classic from the late, lamented

It was during the 1944 Stanley Cup final playoff series that Johnny Gottselig, the old stickhandling wizard and one-time coach of the Chicago Black Hawks, regaled us by relating some of the early bizarre history of the team.

“The goofiest year I ever spent with the Hawks was 1932,” he said. “We had a new coach, a guy named Godfrey Matheson from Winnipeg, who got the job by writing Maj. Frederic McLaughlin, the owner of the Hawks, a letter.

“The first thing he said to us was: ‘You are all adults. I will call you Mr. Gottselig, Mr. March and so on, and I want you to call me Mr. Matheson. I have appointed Mr. (Cy) Wentworth captain of the team and I want you to address him as Captain Wentworth.

“At our first practice, Matheson came out on the ice in street clothes, but he’s wearing a pair of elbow pads and a pair of knee pads. Not under his clothes, over them. He looked weird.

“He puts a pail full of pucks on the ice and then gets down on his hands and knees. We were lined up behind him on both sides. He’d grab a puck and throw it out to one side and one of the players was supposed to pick it up at full speed and go down and take a shot on goal.

“Our goaltender was Charlie Gardiner, but he wouldn’t let Charlie take part in the workouts. He said, ‘Mr. Gardiner, you’re too valuable to the team and I can’t run the risk of injury.’ So he buys one of those store dummies, puts a uniform on it and props it up in the net. That’s what we were shooting at.

“Frock Lowrey thought he’d have a little fun with Mr. Matheson and when the coach was down on his knees tossing out those pucks, Frock pretended he missed the puck and tapped him on the back of the neck with his stick. He must have tapped him harder than he intended because the guy was knocked out and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

“‘Carry on, men,’ he says from the stretcher. ‘Capt. Wentworth will be in charge until I’m able to resume.'”

Image: Blackhawks Marty Burke and Johnny Gottselig, 1936 * Via Hockey Memorabilia


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