Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Family Celebration

In most NHL rinks, one in-game promotion allows fans to have their names posted on the video screen in recognition of their birthday. It is a nice touch, especially for youngsters, to see their names projected for all to see.

Back in the day, many hockey publications would make note of the birthday's being celebrated by those in the game. The example below appeared in The Hockey News.

The month of April certainly was a time for breaking out the birthday candles in the Reardon family. Both Terry and Ken Reardon played in the National Hockey League and both won a Stanley Cup. Terry, with the Boston Bruins in 1941 and Ken with Montreal in 1946. When their careers came to an end, both remained in the game at the executive level. For a number of years, Ken served under Frank Selke in the Canadiens organization and Terry in the American Hockey League.

Terry, the eldest brother, was born on April 6, 1919 and Ken was born on April 1, 1921. The two were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Shortly after his birthday in 1949, Terry Reardon received a belated gift from his employer - the Providence Reds (AHL). The present took the form of a new contract to handle the coaching responsibilities. The two parties involved in the negotiation were Reardon and Reds owner Lou Pieri.

On the day of the contract discussions, Reardon was scheduled to meet with Pieri at 1:00pm, then at 2:00pm, play a round of golf with Jack Stoddard, who was on the Reds roster. If Reardon was concerned about missing his tee-off time, he had little to worry about.

The two came to terms on a new five-year contract within moments of sitting down to throw figures around. And how did they accomplish this so fast? Well Pieri passed Reardon a piece of paper and requested that he write down a dollar amount. Ten-minutes later, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered.

"I am quite pleased and happy over everything. The contract really is a wonderful one and I hope that the good years can continue for the Reds," commented Reardon after putting pen to paper.

At the time, Reardon became the highest paid coach in the American Hockey League. In addition to being the bench boss, Reardon was an important player on the ice for Providence.

The wonderful tradition of acknowledging birthday's has been kept up by Al Shaw of the NHL Oldtimers lunch. Prior to each event Ron Would makes the rounds to secure signatures on birthday cards, which are then presented to the applicable individuals.

Bob Beckett, a former member of the Boston Bruins, is shown in the above photo which was snapped at the April luncheon. He is taking a time-out to read his birthday greetings. Bob celebrated his 76th birthday on April 8th.

~On and Off the Ice~

I'm leaving on a jet plane: If I could board an aircraft, with my choice of a flight plan, the big bird would land in Pittsburgh. Of all the first round match-ups, the Philadelphia versus Pittsburgh series is the one I would love to view in-person. This one could get very ugly, very quickly. It has the makings of a take-no prisoners/no-holds barred/last-man-standing takes all confrontation.

On the subject of birthday celebrations, Wally "The Whirling Dervish" Stanowski will be marking his 93rd year on this planet come April 28th!

The Toronto Star published a feature story on Wally in their February 19, 2012 edition. Penned by former Leaf beat-writer, Paul Hunter, the piece provided insight on Stanowski's career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. At the recent NHL Oldtimers lunch, Cathal Kelly, also a writer in the Stars sports department, presented Wally with a ready-to-be-framed copy of his colleagues article.

Stanowski and Kelly check-out Paul Hunter's article on Wally
The following day, Kelly wrote a wonderful story on his experience at the lunch.

"Once a month and for a few hours, these men turn a prefab Markham dining hall into a more vibrant recollection of that shared past than any Hall of Fame can ever hope to be," wrote Kelly in his closing.

His text certainly captured the heart and soul of this monthly gathering.

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