Friday, January 28, 2011

All-Star Games

I have never been a fan of All-Star games. Except possibly for the baseball game the other All-Star games are not played at the same levels or intensity. There are no hits in hockey. No blitzes in football. No team play in basketball.

A couple of early formats were interesting but only so because of their makeup. In 1934 The Chicago Tribune put together an interesting All-Star football game for charitable purposes, this one began in 1934 and ran until 1976. In the Tribune game the NFL champ from the previous year would play a college All-Star team. They played 42 games and the pros won the series 31-9-2. These games were all preseason games.

The NHL All-Star Game started officially in the 1947-48 season. That was also a preseason game and under that format the Stanley Cup champs played the stars from the other five teams. That format lasted until the 1967-68 season when they went to East vs. West. Prior to the 1947-48 season the NHL had special events All-Star games such as the Ace Bailey Benefit Game (1934),  the Howie Morenz Memorial Game (1937), and the Babe Siebert Memorial Game (1939).

So now the NHL has a new format. They pick two captains and the captains choose up sides. So you have the possibility of two teammates going opposite each other. Now you know why there is no checking, no hits. Imagine, choosing up sides. I remember as a kid when they used to choose up sides. I was usually picked last and wound up playing right field. Oh well.

So I will pass on this year's NHL All-Star game like I have passed on every All-Star game since Joe DiMaggio hung up his spikes. Maybe I can catch one of my grandson's game before his season ends. They don't choose up sides.


There was almost gun play and real shots because of Eddie Shore's cheap shot. The end result was the NHL's first all-star game.

Ace Baily's Injury --
The incident between Ace Bailey and Eddie Shore occurred in the Boston Garden during the second period of a regular league game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins on December 12, 1933. Having taken two penalties in quick succession, the Maple Leafs were playing short handed, and sent Bailey, Red Horner and King Clancy out to defend against Boston's power play. During that sequence, Horner upended Shore with a hard check as the later player rushed up the ice. Angry, dazed, and thinking he was going after Horner, Shore rushed at Bailey intent on revenge. He hit Bailey hard from the side, sending the stricken player flying through the air. Bailey struck the ice head first and lapsed into convulsions. Furious, Horner asked Shore what he was doing, and when met with only a smile in response, knocked Shore out cold with one punch.

Both players were carried off the ice, where Shore first regained consciousness. He was able to reach Bailey, who briefly regained consciousness himself, and attempted to apologize. Bailey was able to respond with "it's all part of the game" before again passing out. As Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe attempted to reach his team's dressing room to find out the status of Bailey, he was accosted by angry Bruins fans, one of whom accused Bailey of faking his injury. An angry Smythe punched the fan in the mouth, and was later charged with assault.

Bailey was rushed to hospital in Boston with a fractured skull where neurosurgeons worked through the night to save his life. His injuries were so severe that doctors gave him only hours to live. Distraught over his son's injuries, Bailey's father boarded a train bound for Boston carrying a revolver, telling everyone he met of his intent to kill Shore. When Smythe found out about this, he contacted his assistant general manager, Frank Selke, for help. Selke got in touch with a friend of his who worked in the Boston Police, who met Bailey's father at a hotel and talked the man out of his plan before returning him to Toronto.

Authorities in Boston made it known that they intended to charge Shore with manslaughter if the player died. Bailey held on, though his life hung in the balance for several days...

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