Parros Appointment Follow-up

            Last week I criticized NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for appointing super-goon George Parros to the role of senior vice-president of player safety.

             Parros was a telephone guest on Bob McCown’s Prime Time Sports show this week. Before Parros came on the line, McCown echoed my concerns, but was challenged by his co-host, my long-time acquaintance, John Shannon. Shannon said that “we” prefer that Parros be called an enforcer, not a goon; inferred that Parros, because he scored “some” goals, actually had hockey skills: and, praised Parros for having a unique appreciation for the game. I suspect the “we” Shannon referred to would include the commissioner and his other apologists.

            Shannon and I belong to a group called Thursday’s Children. Except during the summer months, the group meets for lunch every Thursday, and he and I often tangle over his categorical support for the NHL in general and Gary Bettman in particular. The Parros appointment is a case in point. Let’s examine Shannon’s defense of it.

             The term “enforcer” is an NHL euphemism for “goon.” Parros, having incurred 1,127 penalty minutes in 493 NHL games was a goon, pure and simple. He scored a goal every 27.5 games, which would be an average of less than three per full season. If  Parros had had to rely on his hockey skills he wouldn’t have lasted 493 seconds in the NHL, let alone 493 games. As McCown pointed out, even he would likely have the puck bounce in off him a few times if he was on the ice for almost 500 games. And I can only guess that Parros’ unique appreciation of the game is that he knew how to beat up people on demand.

            Shannon worked for the NHL for a short time but, given his unconditional support for anything it does, his settlement when he left must have included a lifetime supply of Bettman Kool Aid.

More NHL Shame

            Senior vice-president (the NHL has a lot of those, don’t they?) and director of officiating, Stephen Walkom, announced a couple of days ago that vicious slashes to the hands or body will now be penalized. He went on to say that no rule changes were necessary because the existing rule already prohibits them.

            The shame is that it took Johnny Gaudreau’s severely broken hand, and Marc Methot’s almost severed finger, for the NHL to decide to enforce a rule already on the books.

            It’s often been said that hockey is such a great game that stupid people haven’t been able to spoil it. They’re working on it.

Maple Leaf Memorabilia

            Another hockey story this week was the sale to the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Quebec, for a reported two million dollars, of Toronto super-fan Mike Wilson’s fantastic (pun intended) collection of Toronto Maple Leaf memorabilia

            We live about three blocks from Mike, and I had a couple of occasions to spend some very enjoyable hours in his basement examining his massive collection of over 2,000 items. As an old goaltender, of particular interest to me were sets of Terry Sawchuk’s and Johnny Bower’s goalie pads, which were made by the patron saint of goalie pads, Pop Kenesky.

             (An interesting aside: it was only after Mike bought his house that he realized Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin would be his next door neighbour.)

My Kenesky Pads

            Pop Kenesky,  a harness maker by trade, operated out of a shop on Barton Street in Hamilton, and in his heyday outfitted every NHL goalie, and couldn’t keep up with demand for his uniquely-styled goalie pads.

            Through the auspices of a gentleman by the name of Doug Laurie, who operated a sporting goods store in Maple Leaf Gardens, I managed to get a pair of Kenesky pads in the mid-50s while playing for the Lakeshore Bruins in the Toronto Junior B league, and I wore them for the rest of my hockey-playing years.

             I remember my Kenesky pads feeling as comfortable as a pair of long, custom-knit socks. They were also shaped so that pucks hitting below the knees tended to drop down rather than rebound straight back out.

             When I quit playing in 1969 I gave away all my equipment, including the Keneskys. I later regretted doing this; especially when my older son, Matthew, became a star high-school goalie with Upper Canada College in Toronto and then went on to play for Union College in the NCAA. He probably would never have worn them, but I would have liked for him to at least have seen them.