Yesterday, I wrote about my fascination with a set of hockey photographs dating back to the 1960s. As a small-frye, I would be constantly looking at them and dreaming of the day I would be playing in the NHL. The appeal of these pictures was their size - slightly bigger than a 4x6. Sure, hockey cards were interesting and fun to collect, but they were no match for my 42-picture set. The action photos would trigger my imagination.
Did Johnny Bucyk score on Johnny Bower in the above photo? Did he deke or shoot? Did Bower employ his classic poke-check?
As I got older, my eyes set sight on a hockey publication which captured my attention. The Hockey News. I would sink every penny of my allowance into purchasing this weekly paper during the hockey season. In the summer, when news was difficult to obtain, I would eagerly wait for the monthly edition to be delivered at the corner store. The team by team coverage of the latest developments and player movement was unparalleled. The statistical information was overwhelming. The coverage of leagues beyond the NHL, provided news that was very elusive to obtain.
The concept of the Hockey News was hatched by Ken McKenzie and Will Cote. These two gentleman first met in the Air Force while training in Calgary, Alberta. Their shared interest was the game of hockey. While in the service, the two kicked around the idea of producing a hockey publication.
In the 1948-49 season, their dream became a reality with the printing of a weekly Hockey News. At the time, Ken McKenzie worked in the publicity department of the NHL at their headquarters in the Sun Life Building (situated in downtown Montreal). Working along side McKenzie was Will Cote.
Right from the beginning, the Hockey News was viewed as a tremendous marketing tool by those within the industry. In January 1949, the Boston Bruins put in an order for 3,277 copies. These were to passed to their season ticket subscribers as a thank you gift. The American Hockey League bought 500 subscriptions and distributed them to media outlets. Also, management of each club received a subscription.
In addition to the hockey world, the public showed great interest in this source of information. While working in the NHL office, McKenzie and Cote would record the name and address of every individual who contacted the league seeking information. When the list hit 8,000 names, they sent out cards to all 8,000 fans telling them of their intentions concerning the Hockey News. As a result, they walked away with 4500 subscriptions.
On a trip to Chicago, McKenzie was successful in signing every member of the Hawks to a subscription. When New York visited Montreal to tangle with the Canadiens, he signed-up 12 Rangers.
My time would come in 1968. Thanks to an increase in my weekly allowance, I was in a position to become a weekly subscriber. I would run home from school every Friday brimming with anticipation. What would the bold-headline on the cover be? What was the trade speculation this week? What was the feature story? I poured over every word, sentence and paragraph, often, only putting it down to play in my House League game and watch Hockey Night In Canada.