There are three basic ways to obtain knowledge: study, experience, and paying close attention when we’re around people who know more about something than we do. The most efficient of these, and the one most under our control, is study.  Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. I’ve long believed that people who don’t read are no better off than people who can’t read. And speaking of knowledge, the adage “knowledge is power” is wrong. It’s the application of knowledge that’s power.

           When a hockey player goes off to serve a minor penalty, even if he returns to the ice five seconds later, after a goal is scored, his record is charged with two penalty minutes. However, had the opposing team scored after the referee indicated a penalty was going to be called, but before the offending player’s team touched the puck, the player would not have had two minutes charged to his penalty stats. This makes no sense whatsoever. It’s as stupid as the behind-the-net trapezoid, which, of course, is another of Gary Bettman’s cures for which there is no known disease.

            Dorothy “Red” Selke, widow of Frank Selke Jr., died last week. Red would never reveal her age. Even her obituary didn’t mention it, which I suspect was an edict she issued to her family. I think she was around ninety. Actually, her obituary is the main reason I’m including this musing. Here’s a quotation from it. Mom was funny, athletic, stubborn, practical, organized, stubborn, loyal, positive, stubborn, strong, creative, independent and adored by our Dad.” Based on the time I spent with the Selkes, I can attest to all of that; there was never a dull moment when Red was around. In her youth she was one of the best female amateur golfers in the country (I think she and Frank actually met on a golf course in Montreal). Her grandfather was one of the telegraphers on duty at Cape Race, Newfoundland, when the first SOS from the Titanic was received.

             While on the subject of legendary hockey families, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing four of the Conacher clan. All hockey historians are familiar with Conacher brothers Charlie, Roy and Lionel, all of whom were NHL stars. Lionel may have been the best athlete ever. He played six sports professionally (hockey, football, baseball, lacrosse, boxing and wrestling) and won championships in all of them. The Conachers I know (or knew) are Pete, Bert, Brian and Connie. Pete, who is Charlie’s son, had a long, successful career in the NHL and AHL. I met Pete through the weekly hockey/broadcast luncheon group to which I belong and he and his wife, Ann, have become very good friends of ours. Bert, who died just last summer, was Roy’s twin brother and, according to all accounts, would also have been an NHL star had he not lost an eye as a teenager. I got to know Bert through the monthly NHL Alumni lunches. Brian, (Lionel’s son) is a former international hockey and NHL stalwart who coached our older son, Matthew, at Upper Canada College. Brian’s sister, the late Connie, was married to one of my former partners. Like the Selkes, the Conachers are among the finest people I’ve known.

             When Leo Komarov, Brandon Saad, and John Scott are on the NHL all-star rosters and Sidney Crosby, Duncan Keith, and Matt Duchene aren’t, it’s obvious the selection process is grievously flawed. Although John Scott was voted in by the fans, Commissioner Gary Bettman could have overruled the vote, given Scott the $100,000 that his teammates might have won for him, let him keep his sweater, and make him a healthy scratch. Crosby and Duchene being left off is the direct result of another idiotic Bettman decree: that every team in the league has to have at least one player on the roster. Although Bettman’s ability to put money in the owners’ pockets is unparalleled, even after decades on the job he still doesn’t understand the game or its fans.