Coaching insanity led Maple Leafs to NHL’s most miraculous comeback

Syl Apps (HHOF Images)

It never happened before, nor has it happened since. And it very likely never will happen again.

Coached by Clarence ‘Hap’ Day, the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs remain the only team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup final. They accomplished that feat because Day went totally against the coaching grain, and then some. Read more

Reader, puzzle-solver & charity champion, this Islanders banger is more than bloody knuckles

Adam Proteau
Matt Martin (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

To watch Matt Martin play hockey is to watch a human bumper car.

Now in his fifth season with the New York Islanders, Martin, 25, has earned a reputation as an intense, blue-collar left winger who throws as many punches (447 penalty minutes in 280 games prior to this season) as he does bodychecks (he’s led the NHL in hits three times). But when he’s not playing, he is anything but high-strung. You’re more likely to find him reading or working on a crossword puzzle than trying to knock someone into next week. Read more

From deaths to monsters, a history of fighting in hockey

Adam Proteau
(B Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s fair to say that, for as long as the sport has existed, there’s been a connection between hockey and fighting. Indeed, the first indoor hockey game ever played – March 13, 1875, in Montreal – was followed by fisticuffs between players and spectators and others who wanted to use the arena for skating. And although there’s been no shortage of critics who decried it right from the start, fighting has, for better or worse, helped shape the destiny of the game from its earliest days.

The first evidence hockey historians have of a fight in a game is from one of the first contests that took place in 1890 in Ontario. On Feb. 8, as part of a barnstorming tour of the province, the Rideau Hall Rebels (who played out of Ottawa) were taking on the Granite Hockey Club in Toronto when a major melee broke out. That fight was a prominent factor, if not the driving one, in the organization of hockey in Ontario. Read more

THN’s best NHL fighters by weight class

Ryan Kennedy
John Scott (middle) is one of the most fearsome fighters in the league. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

In most sports that involve fighting, the fighters are broken down into weight classes. It helps provide some semblance of balance and a measure of safety, if you can call it that.

Though the NHL has no official breakdown of fighters into weight classes, we took our time to make it happen. And not only are the fighters separated by weight class, they’re also ranked by who the toughest brawlers are in each category. Read more

In The Cards: Phil Roberto’s fisticuffs card wouldn’t fly today

Sal Barry
In_The_Cards_644x427

There are three things the NHL Players’ Association doesn’t allow on licensed trading cards: blood, tongues and fighting – especially fighting. It was different 40 years ago, when there were virtually no regulations for hockey card photos. Thus, Topps was able to get away with using a fisticuffs photograph on its 1973-74 card of St. Louis Blues left winger Phil Roberto, shown here slugging it out with New York Islanders goalie Billy Smith. As if that wasn’t enough, the back of the card also states, “Phil is a tough man in the corners, and even tougher in a fight.”

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Jean-Paul Parise: a life well lived

Ken Campbell
Jean-Paul Parise spent most of career with the Minnesota North Stars and played on Canada's 1972 Summit Series team. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Jean-Paul ‘J.P.’ Parise, retired NHLer and father of Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, passed away Wednesday at age 73 after a battle with lung cancer. A few months ago, after J.P. learned his diagnosis was terminal, he gave a heartfelt interview to THN senior writer Ken Campbell. It appears below. We send our deepest condolences to the Parise family.

The voice at the other end of the line that’s usually so robust and enthusiastic is, on this day, weak and raspy. The person behind it is, at times, a little incoherent. But it’s the voice of a fighter. Anyone who has cancer will tell you there are good days and there are bad days. As far as days go, this one could be better. A lot better.

Jean-Paul Parise just 
arrived home from the hospital. Chemotherapy ravaged his immune system, and he developed a rectal abscess that had to be surgically removed after he contracted C-difficile, which he got the first time he was in the hospital from all the antibiotics. During his surgery, he contracted it again.

“I’m sitting here feeling like s—,” Jean-Paul said. “My Lord Jesus, I have never, ever suffered so much in my life. In my life. This friggin’ chemo. You ask how it is? Well, on a scale of one to 10, it’s 12-and-a-half.”

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The fight to sell women’s hockey: Can the CWHL become the WNBA?

Matt Larkin
Montreal's Julie Chu faces off against Toronto's Carolyne Prevost in CWHL action. Will the league's play improve enough on its own to attract more sponsors, or does it have to happen in the reverse order? (photo by Jess Desjardins/CWHL)

People close to 
Julie Chu consider her superhuman. But you’d have to forgive her if you spotted bags under her eyes in winter 2013. It was a non-Olympic year, so Chu, one of Team USA’s most decorated forwards ever, worked as an assistant coach with Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., as a day job. She gave instruction wearing full equipment so she could squeeze daily workouts in simultaneously. She stayed with the team from Monday to Saturday, including game nights, which were typically Friday and Saturday. Her rest and recreation after a game consisted of hopping in her car and driving to Montreal (215 miles), Toronto (367 miles) or Boston (186 miles), depending on where her Canadian Women’s League team competed that weekend. She’d arrive to join it late – often at 2 a.m. or so. She’d get what sleep she could and play in the Montreal Stars’ game the next day. After that? Back in the car. Back to Eastern New York to get ready for work Monday. Rinse, repeat.

It’s not quite the glamorous life you’d picture for a Harvard graduate who finished her amateur career as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, was her country’s flag bearer at the end of the 2014 Sochi Games and donates oodles of money to buy hockey equipment for children of military members. Yet Chu’s story paints an accurate picture of everyday life for elite female hockey players – and she’s one of the lucky ones. She’s been fortunate enough to find work in the sport when she’s not competing. Still, she can’t get paid to play the game professionally. No CWHL players can. They’re forced to work other jobs, yet they’re expected to perform at the peak of their abilities on game day. They’re attempting to attract interest, sponsors and enthusiasm while playing the sport with one hand tied behind their collective back.

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What makes a great fan base? It’s a lot more than just noise

WC Crowd

When we were building the formula for our NHL Fan Rankings, the notion of noise was tabled. Should we try to concoct a volume measurement and weave that into the calculations?

The suggestion fell on deaf ears, for a couple reasons. For starters, we couldn’t think of an objective methodology. There is no decibel-per-game average available anywhere. Secondly, and more to the point, loudness doesn’t necessarily equal good fandom. Read more