Transcript: The NHL: A Ridiculous History | Apr 23, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "The NHL: A ridiculous history. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says HOCKEY IS SERIOUS
BUSINESS IN THIS COUNTRY.
IT'S ALSO FODDER FOR THE HUMOUR
AND INSIGHT OF SPORTS WRITER
SEAN McINDOE.
FOR MORE THAN A DECADE HE HAS
AMUSED AND INFORMED A HUGE LOYAL
READERSHIP ON HIS HOCKEY BLOG
CALLED DOWN GOES BROWN.
NOW HE ELEVATED HIS GAME
SO TO SPEAK WITH A ROBUST
LOOK AT THE PATH THE SPORT HAS
TAKEN TO GET TO WHERE IT IS
TODAY.
THE BOOK IS CALLED "THE DOWN
GOES BROWN HISTORY OF THE NHL:
THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL
SPORT, THE WORLD'S MOST RIDICULOUS LEAGUE."
SEAN McINDOE HAS WRITTEN FOR
GRANTLAND, SPORTSNET, AND VICE SPORTS.
HE IS CURRENTLY A COLUMNIST AT
THE ATHLETIC.
AND HE IS WITH US NOW.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of two young male hockey players apparently dancing in the rink.
Sean is in his mid-forties, clean-shaven, with short-cropped dark hair. He's wearing a gray suit and a blue shirt.

Steve continues SO GOOD TO HAVE YOU IN THE SHARE.

Sean says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says WE HAVE TO RESIST THE
TEMPTATION TO TALK LIKE A COUPLE
OF HOCKEY FANS RIGHT NOW AND
REMEMBER THAT THE AUDIENCE
DOESN'T NECESSARILY... I AM
GOING TO GO OUT ON A LIMB AND
SAY DOESN'T KNOW NEARLY AS I
KNOW ABOUT HOCKEY IS POSSIBLE.
LET'S START WITH THIS, THE DOWN
GOES BROWN REFERENCE IS A
REFERENCE TO WHAT?

The caption changes to "Sean McIndoe. Author, 'The down goes brown history of the NHL.'"
Then, it changes again to "In the beginning."

Sean says THIS IS THE REFERENCE
TO THE IMMORTAL BROADCASTER JOE
BOWAN.
THIS WAS A GAME IN 1992 A GAME I
WAS AT A MAPLE LEAF GARDENS
WHERE THE LEAFS ARE PLAYING THE
BLACKHAWKS.
AND AS OFTEN HAPPENED BACK THEN,
A BRAWL BREAKS OUT.
LEFEBVRE AND ROB BROWN START
FIGHTING AND JOE STARTS YELLING
DOWN GOES BROWN, DOWN GOES
BROWN, A PLAY ON THE JOE FRAZIER
BOXING CALL.
IT WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
STUCK WITH FANS THIS WAS THE
1990s.
WE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT TO HANG OUR
HAT ON.
THAT RECEIVED TO STICK WITH
PEOPLE.
MANY YEARS LATER WHEN I AM
STAYING AT A BLANK BLOG TRYING
TO THINK OF SOMETHING CATCHY AS
A NAME AND TIFF' BEEN USING IT
EVER SINCE.

Steve says IT WORKS.
THAT'S GOOD.
I WANT TO GO BACK A MILLION
YEARS.
ALL OF THE BIG SPORTS LEAGUES
TODAY ALL STARTED OBVIOUSLY IN
MUCH MORE IGNOMINIOUS
CIRCUMSTANCES AND PROFESSIONAL
HOCKEY IS NO DIFFERENT.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT KIND OF
PRO-LEAGUES WERE THERE BEFORE WE
GOT THE ACTUAL NHL THAT PERSISTS
TODAY?

Sean says THERE HAD BEEN ALL
SORTS OF LEAGUES, MANY OF WHICH
WERE AT LEAST SEMI PRO.
THERE HAD NEVER BEEN THE REAL
SINGLE BIG ENTITY LIKE WE'RE
USED TO SEEING IN THE SPORTS
WORLD NOW.
THE CLOSEST WAS SOMETHING CALLED
THE NAHL WHICH IS THE NORTH
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE.
AND IT HAD BEEN RELATIVELY
SUCCESSFUL.
AND HAD BEEN A GOING CONCERN.
BUT THEY HAD A PROBLEM.
AND IT WAS A PROBLEM THAT WOULD
BE FAMILIAR I THINK TO A LOT OF
PEOPLE WHO HAVE EVER WORKED IN A
GROUP WHICH IS THAT THEY HAD ONE
PERSON IN THE GROUP THAT THEY
COULDN'T STAND AND THAT THEY
WANTED TO GET RID OF.

Steve says EDDY LIVINGSTONE.

Sean says THAT'S RIGHT.
THEY WANTED HIM OUT.
HE WAS A PAIN IN THE NECK.
HE WAS ALWAYS FINDING SOMETHING
TO COMPLAIN ABOUT AND
THREATENING LAWSUITS AND ALL OF
THIS STUFF.
THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF HIM AND
COULDN'T.
THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE LEAGUE
BYLAWS THAT WOULD LET THEM KICK
HIM OUT.
THEY DID.
THEY CAME UP WITH A PRETTY
CLEVER PLAN WHICH IS LET'S JUST
START OUR OWN LEAGUE THAT
DOESN'T INCLUDE THIS GUY.
THAT'S HOW WE'LL GET RID OF HIM.
THE REST OF US WILL GO OVER TO
THE NEW LEAGUE.
WE'LL TALL IT THE NHL.
AND THE IDEA AT THE TIME WAS
THAT EDDY WOULD GET THE HIND AND
GO AWAY AND THEY COULD GO BACK
TO THE NAHL AND THE NHL WOULD BE
TEMPORARY.
INSTEAD HE DID NOT GO AWAY AND
REMAINS PART OF THE STORY FOR
THE FIRST DECADE OR SO OF THE
LEAGUE.
THAT'S THE NHL'S START AS THIS
EMPLOY JUST TO GET AWAY FROM
THIS ONE ANNOYING GUY AND ENDS
UP, YOU KNOW A. CENTURY LATER
BEING THE DOMINANT HOCKEY LEAGUE
IN THE WORLD.

Steve says THIS WAS 1917 NOW.
TALKING ABOUT THE FORMATION OF
THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE.
WHICH HAS MANAGED TO PERSIST IN
SPITE OF ALL OF THAT.
DO WE KNOW DEFINITIVELY WHEN THE
FIRST NHL GAME WAS PLAYED?

The caption changes to "Sean McIndoe, @DownGoesBrown."

Sean says IT WAS IN DECEMBER.
THERE WERE TWO GAMES THAT WERE
PLAYED.
THERE ARE ONLY FOUR TEAMS IN THE
LEAGUE BRIEFLY BECAUSE PRETTY
MUCH IMMEDIATELY ONE OF THE
ARENAS BURNS DOWN AND ONE OF THE
TEAMS FOLDS BUT YOU HAD THE TWO
TEAMS IN MONTREAL.
YOU HAD OTTAWA.
AND YOU HAD TORONTO.
WHICH WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME
THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.
BUT AT THE TIME WAS JUST
TORONTO.
THEY DIDN'T EVEN...

Steve says THEY DIDN'T HAVE
NICKNAMES.

Sean says SOME OF THE TEAMS DID.
BUT EVEN THEN IT WASN'T REALLY
IN THE SAME WAY.
THE OTTAWA TEAM WAS CALLED THE
SENATORS.
BUT YOU LOOK BACK AT NEWSPAPER
ADS OF THE DAY AND SOME OF THEM
JUST WERE THE OTTAWAS OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
AND THEN YOU'VE GOT THE TWO
MONTREAL TEAMS, THE WANDERS AND
THE MONTREAL CANADIENS WHO WERE
THE ONLY TEAM THAT EXISTS TODAY
THAT WAS FULLY FORMED IN THE NHL
AT THE TIME.
THERE WERE TWO GAMES AT THE SAME
TIME.
AND THERE HAD BEEN, UNTIL
RECENTLY, SOME DISPUTE OVER
WHICH WAS ACTUALLY THE FIRST
GAME.
BECAUSE BACK THEN, THEY DIDN'T
NECESSARILY KEEP TRACK OF WHEN
THE GAME STARTED.
BUT THEY EVENTUALLY DECIDED THAT
THE FIRST GAME HAD BEEN PLAYED
IN OTTAWA BECAUSE THE OTHER GAME
HAD BEEN DELAYED HALF AN HOUR
BECAUSE THE PLAYERS WENT
BASICALLY ON STRIKE BECAUSE THEY
DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THEY WERE
GETTING PLAYED ENOUGH.
SO YOU CAN LITERALLY SAY, YOU
KNOW, THE NHL DIDN'T EVEN GET TO
ITS FIRST GAME WITHOUT HAVING A
WORK STOPPAGE WHICH I THINK DOES
SET THE TABLE FOR THE GARY
BETTMAN ERA.

Steve says AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH.
THE MAPLE LEAFS AS YOU POINT OUT
WERE NOT THE FIRST TORONTO
PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY TEAM.
THAT WAS THE TEAM CALLED BEFORE
THEY BECAME THE LEAFS?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Sean says WELL, FIRST OF ALL
THERE HAD BEEN THE TORONTO BLUE
SHIRTS THAT WAS EDDY
LIVINGSTONE'S TEAM IN THE NAHL
BEFORE THE NHL CAME AROUND.
THIS TORONTO TEAM COMES IN AND
FOR A WHILE THEY ARE JUST THE
TORONTO TEAM.
SOME FANS AT THE TIME CALLED
THEM THE BLUE SHIRTS JUST OUT OF
FORCE OF HABIT.
OBVIOUSLY THE NHL DIDN'T LIKE
THAT BECAUSE THAT WAS THE GUY
THEY WANTED TO GET AWAY. FROM
THEY ENDED UP WINNING THE
CHAMPIONSHIP THE FIRST YEAR
STILL WITHOUT A NAME.
IN THE HISTORY BOOKS THEY WILL
BE REFERRED TO AS THE TORONTO
ARENAS.
THAT WAS ONE THAT WAS
RETROACTIVELY APPLIED THOUGH AT
THE TIME WHEN YOU LOOK AT NEWS
REPORT IT IS WASN'T USED ALL
THAT MUCH.
THEY LATER BECOME THE TORONTO
St. PAT'S AND THEN EVENTUALLY
CONN SMYTHE COMES ALONG AND
CHANGES THE NAME TO THE TORONTO
MAPLE LEAFS AND GIVES THEM THE
BLUE AND WHITE AND ALL OF THE
THINGS THAT WE'RE FAMILIAR WITH
NOW BUT THAT TAKES ABOUT TEN
YEARS BEFORE THAT COMES IN.

Steve says WE SEE THE St. PAT'S
JERSEYS COME BACK AROUND
St. PATRICK'S DAY.

Sean says WE DO.
VERY NICE.

Steve says HAMILTON HAD A
NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE TEAM
WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE WON'T
REMEMBER.
THE TIGERS.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?

Sean says THE TIGER HAS A VERY UP
AND DOWN HISTORY.
THEY LASTED FOR FOUR OR FIVE
YEARS.
WEREN'T VERY GOOD FOR THE FIRST
VIEW OF THOSE YEARS WERE NOT A
VERY GOOD TEAM AT ALL.
BUT FINALLY IN THE MID-20s,
THE 1924-25 SEASON, THEY FINALLY
CLICKED.
THEY HAVE A TEAM THAT IS PLAYING
WELL.
THEY END UP FINISHING FIRST IN
THE LEAGUE.
NOW, BACK THEN, THE TOP THREE
TEAMS MADE THE PLAYOFFS.
THE FIRST-PLACE TEAM GOT A BYE.
THE SECOND AND THIRD WOULD PLAY
EACH OTHER AND THEY WOULD PLAY
THE FIRST PLACE TEAM FOR THE
CHAMPIONSHIP.
THE HAMILTON TIGERS ARE THE
NUMBER ONE TEAM.
THEY EARN THAT TOP SEED.
EXCEPT THAT THEY REALIZE THAT
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO GET PAID
ANYTHING EXTRA FOR MAKES THESE
PLAYOFFS.
BACK THEN YOU DIDN'T GET ANY
EXTRA PESO THEY GO TO THE LEAGUE
AND THEY SAY WE WANT SOME EXTRA
DOLLARS.
WE'RE GOING TO WORK MORE.
WE JUST EXTENDED THE FORMAT YOU
SHOULD PAY US MORE.
BACK THEN, THESE GUYS WEREN'T
MAKING MILLION DOLLAR SALARIES.

Steve says AND THERE'S NO PLAYERS
ASSOCIATION.

Sean says NO ASSOCIATION, NOTHING
LIKE THAT THE UNION IS BASICALLY
THE PLAYERS GETTING TOGETHER ON
THE TRAIN HAVING A FEW DRINKS
AND SAY WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS.
THE LEAGUE CAME BACK AND GAVE
THEM A VERY CLEAR MESSAGE.
YOU WON'T BE PAID ANY MORE, YOU
WILL DO THIS OUR WAY AND IF YOU
DON'T YOU WON'T PLAY.
THE TIGERS CALLED THEIR BLUFF
AND ORCHESTRATE ADD BIT OF A
WILD CAT STRIKE AND THAT WAS IT
FOR THE HAMILTON TIGERS.
THE LEAGUE SAID OKAY YOU'RE OUT.
THE SECOND AND THIRD TEAM SAID
YOU GUYS ARE PLAYING FOR THE
CHAMPIONSHIPS AND THE HAMILTON
TIGERS, THE FRANCHISE ITSELF
DIDN'T FOLD BUT IT MOVED DOWN TO
NEW YORK AND THAT WAS THE END OF
HOCKEY IN HAMILTON.
SO YOU CAN TO THIS DAY, HAMILTON
FANS CAN CLAIM THEY'RE THE ONLY
FIRST-PLACE TEAM TO EVER NOT
MAKE THE PLAYOFFS BECAUSE OF THE
PLAYERS HAVING THE AUDACITY TO
ASK FOR A FEW EXTRA BUCKS.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The original six."
It displays the logos of the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Black Hawks, the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers.

Steve says HMM.
NOW FOR SOME REASON THEY'RE
CALLED THE ORIGINAL SIX.
IT'S CERTAINLY NOT ORIGINAL.
BUT THOSE OF US WHO ARE OF A
CERTAIN VINTAGE DO REMEMBER WHEN
THE NHL WAS A SIX-TEAM LEAGUE.
THEY ARE, OF COURSE, MONTREAL
CANADIENS, THE TORONTO MAPLE
LEAFS, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS,
BOSTON BRUINS, DETROIT RED WINGS
AND NEW YORK RANGERS.
WHY DO THESE TEAMS... WHY ARE
THEY PERSISTENTLY CALLED THE
ORIGINAL SIX EVEN THOUGH THERE
WAS PLENTY OF TEAMS THAT
PRECEDED THEM?

The caption changes to "The golden era of hockey."

Sean says THIS IS CONFUSING FOR A
LOT OF FANS, I THINK.
EVEN SOME OF THE OLD TIMER FANS
OUT THERE.
I THINK IF YOU ASK THEM WHO ARE
THE FIRST NHL TEAMS THEY ARE
GOING TO RATTLE OFF THE ORIGINAL
SIX.
I MEAN IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE
NAME "ORIGINAL SIX."
THESE ARE THE FIRST SIX TEAMS
BUT THEY'RE NOT THERE WERE ALL
SORTS OF TEAM THAT IS CAME
AND WENT.
THE FIRST TWO ORIGINALS WERE
STREAM OTTAWA AND TORONTO.
THAT WASN'T SIX THAT WAS FOUR.
FINISHED THE SEASON WITH THREE.
FOR THE NEXT 25025 YEARS THE
LEAGUE GOES UP AND DOWN.
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF SEASONS
WHERE THERE ARE SIX TEAMS A
COUPLE OF SEASONS WHERE THEY GET
AS HIGH AS TEN THEY ARE BRINGING
IN TEAMS IN THE UNITED STATES
NOT JUST BOSTON COMING IN AS THE
FIRST AMERICAN TEAM BUT PLACES
LIKE St. LOUIS AND FLETCH AND
PITTSBURGH YOU GET TEAMS BRIEFLY
IN A LOT OF CASES AND IT'S NOT
UNTIL 1942 WHEN THE ORIGINAL SIX
ACTUALLY SETTLES IN.
AND AT THE TIME, THERE WAS NO
BIG CEREMONY.
THERE WAS NO... NOBODY LOOKED
AROUND AND SAID THIS IS WHAT
WE'RE GOING TO BE THESE ARE THE
SIX IMPORTANT TEAMS IT WAS JUST
YET ANOTHER SEASON WHERE ANOTHER
TEAM WENT DORMANT, THE NEW YORK
AMERICANS HAD PUT OFF TO THE
SIDE.
THEY DIDN'T EVEN FOLD.
THERE WERE STILL THOUGHTS THEY
WERE GOING TO COME BACK.
AND GOING INTO THAT 1942 SEASON
IT WAS LIKE NOW WE'VE GOT SIX
TEAMS THIS YEAR.
ALL RIGHT.
BUT FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS IT
DOESN'T CHANGE.
AND THAT'S WHERE THIS ORIGINAL
SIX ERA COMES IN.
EVEN THOUGH THEY WEREN'T BY ANY
STRETCH THE ORIGINAL TEAMS.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY.
BECAUSE IT WAS 1947 THAT MAJOR
LEAGUE BASEBALL BROKE THE COLOUR
BARRIER WITH JACKIE ROBINSON WHO
WAS A FANTASTIC PLAYER AND NO
DOUBT HAD TO DEAL WITH... HE WAS
A PINE OTHER IN SO MANY WAYS AND
DEALT WITH SO MUCH DISGUSTING
RACISM THAT THEY RETIRED HIS
NUMBER FROM EVERY SINGLE TEAM.
IT WAS ANOTHER 11 YEARS AFTER
THAT BEFORE THE NATIONAL HOCKEY
LEAGUE BROKE THE COLOUR BARRIER
ARE WILLY O'REE WHO DIDN'T PLAY
THAT LONG BUT WHO CERTAINLY MADE
HIS MARK.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT TOOK THE NHL
SO MUCH LONGER?

The caption changes to "Significant events."

Sean says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.
AND PART OF IT IS THAT IT WAS A
MUCH SMALLER LEAGUE.
IT CERTAINLY WAS A LEAGUE WHERE
THERE WEREN'T A LOT OF... THERE
WEREN'T AS MANY PLAYERS PLAYING.
THERE WEREN'T AS MANY...
CERTAINLY IN AMERICA, SO, YOU
KNOW, YOU HAD THE BLACK
POPULATION THERE WHICH WAS
SIMPLY NOT SENDING ANY PLAYERS
OR AT LEAST NOT SENDING VERY
MANY.
THERE WERE SOME OTHER PLAYERS
WHO DID COME CLOSE, SIGN
CONTRACTS.
BUT WILLY O'REE WAS THE FIRST.
AND HE CAME IN, PLAYED A FEW
GAMES FOR THE BRUINS.
WEPT BACK TO THE MINOR LEAGUES.
THAT RETURN ADD FEW YEARS LATER
AND HAD A COUPLE OF PARTIAL
SEASONS.
AND, YOU KNOW, THE AMAZING THING
WITH WILLY O'REE IS HE IS A GUY
THAT WHEN I WAS GROWING UP A LOT
OF FANS DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HIS
NAME.
JACKIE ROBINSON IF YOU ARE A
BASEBALL FAN YOU KNOW HIS NAME.
A THE LOVE HOCKEY FANS DIDN'T
KNOW WHO WILLY O'REE WAS.
TO THEIR CREDIT THE LEAGUE HAS
DONE A GOOD JOB MORE RECENTLY OF
PROMOTING HIM.
HE IS AN AMBASSADOR OF THE GAME
STILL ALIVE.
STILL WORKING HARD.
RECENTLY WAS FINAL LYNN DUCKED
INTO THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME
WHICH AMAZES PEOPLE THAT HE
HADN'T BEEN IN FOR DECADES.
BUT THE REALLY AMAZING THING
WHEN YOU GO BACK TO THE STORY IS
HE BREAKS THE COLOUR BARRIER AND
HIS CAREER IN THE NHL IS OVER BY
THE EARLY 60s.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Sean continues WE DON'T GET THE SECOND BLACK
PLAYER IN THE NHL UNTIL THE
MID-70s WHICH IS STUNNING, YOU
KNOW, THAT IT'S ALMOST AS IF THE
COLOUR BARRIER WAS BROKEN AND
THEN PUT RIGHT BACK UP AGAIN.
AND, YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T UNTIL
WELL INTO THE 80s WHERE YOU
STARTED HAVING BLACK STARS AND,
YOU KNOW, TO THE POINT NOW WHERE
EVEN TODAY, THE LEAGUE IS, YOU
KNOW, CERTAINLY IN TERMS OF
BLACK PLAYERS IS NOT AS DIVERSE
AS THE OTHER PRO-LEAGUES.
BUT WE'RE AT LEAST AT A POINT
WHERE YOU'VE GOT THE P.K.
SUBBANS AND YOU HAVE THE STAR
PLAYERS THAT YOU CAN POINT TO.
BUT, YEAH, NONE OF THAT HAPPENS
IF SOMEBODY DOESN'T GO FIRST AND
IT WAS WILLY O'REE.
THANKFULLY SO FINALLY GETTING
THAT RECOGNITION FROM THE HOCKEY
WORLD.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL
LEAGUE WAS BIGGER, THE BASEBALL
LEAGUE WAS BIGGER, THE NBA WAS
BIGGER, THE NATIONAL HOCKEY
LEAGUE WAS A SIX-TEAM LEAGUE
UNTIL 1967 AND THEN THEY AGREED
TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF TEAMS.
NO NEW TEAMS IN CANADA.
97 percent OF THE PLAYER ALSO CANADIAN
BUT THEY HAD ADDED NO TEAMS IN
CANADA.
WHY DID THEY DO THAT?

The caption changes to "Sean McIndoe. The Athletic."
Then, it changes again to "In the post-expansion era."

Sean says THEY WERE LOOKING FOR A
TV DEAL AND LOOKING AT THE
FINANCES OF IT.
THAT'S SOMETHING WHERE IF YOU
ARE A FAN OF TODAY'S GAME, GARY
BETTMAN DIDN'T INVENT THIS IDEA
THAT WE'RE GOING TO FOCUS ON THE
UNITED STATES AND FOCUS ON TV
RATINGS AND ALL OF THIS.
IT WAS LARGELY THE IDEA BACK
THEN WAS IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE
AN IMPACT AND A FOOTPRINT IN THE
UNITED STATES WE'VE GOT TO BE IN
PLACES LIKE CALIFORNIA.
YOU KNOW, IF YOU ARE GOING TO
HAVE ONE TEAM IN CALIFORNIA YOU
GOT TO HAVE TWO BECAUSE YOU
CAN'T SEND EVERYONE OUT THERE ON
A ROAD TRIP TO PLAY ONE GAME.
THEY WERE LOOKING BEING AT OTHER
PLACES IN PHILADELPHIA AND
PITTSBURGH AND A LOT OF IT WAS,
YOU KNOW, KIND OF DONE IN A VERY
CURIOUS WAY WHERE YOU HAD St.
LOUIS WHERE THEY HAD AN ARENA
BUT NOBODY WANTED TO OWN THE
TEAM.
AS IT HAPPENED THE ARENA WAS
OWNED BY SOMEONE WHO ALREADY
OWNED THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS SO
HE REALLY PUSHED FOR IT.
SO IT WAS THOUGHT AT THE TIME
THE EXPECTATION WAS THAT AT THE
VERY LEAST VANCOUVER WOULD GET
IN SO THERE WOULD BE THAT ONE
KIND OF CANADIAN REPRESENTATION.
AND IT DOESN'T HAPPEN.
THEY MAKE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF
THE SIX TEAMS THEY ARE BRINGING
IN AND YOU'RE RIGHT ALL SIX ARE
AMERICAN.
AND THAT CERTAINLY BROUGHT SOME
CONTROVERSY WITH IT.
YOU KNOW, NOT TO MENTION JUST
THE CHAOS OF GOING FROM SIX
TEAMS TO 12 TEAMS.
YOU'VE GOT TO FIND 120 NEW
PLAYERS TO STOCK ALL THESE TEAMS
WITH.
AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE GOT THESE
SIX TEAM THAT IS WILL BE LOUSY
FOR THE FIRST FEW YEARS AND
THERE IS A GREAT OLD COMIC THAT
I REFERENCE IN THE BOOK THAT I
FOUND IN ONE OF THE DETROIT
NEWSPAPERS AND IT'S, YOU KNOW, A
PICTURE OF THE LEAGUE PRESIDENT
AND HE IS SITTING THERE IN FRONT
OF THE SIX NEWBORN BABIES AND HE
IS HOLDING A BOTTLE THAT SAYS PLAYER TALENT AND HE SAYS GEEZ
I'M GOING TO HAVE TO FEED THESE
WITH AN EYE DROPPER BECAUSE
THERE WASN'T ENOUGH TALENT TO GO
AROUND.
IT'S THE SORT OF THING WHERE YOU
THINK ANY OTHER LEAGUE WOULD GO
LET'S GO FROM SIX TO EIGHT BUT
THE NHL DOUBLED IT ALL IN
ONE-SHOT.

Steve says THE BROAD STREET
BULLIES, THE BIG BAD BRUINS.
HOCKEY GOT PRETTY UGLY FOR A
WHILE INTO THE 1970s.
AND I WANT TO READ AN EXCERPT
FROM THE BOOK THAT TOUCHES ON
THAT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "A vicious pastime." The quote reads "Hockey had always been a vicious pastime, one featuring crushing hits, bare-knuckle fights and occasional instances of players swinging sticks at each other's skulls. The violence had been controversial even in the game's earliest days, with dire editorials predicting the league's imminent demise if things weren't cleaned up. But the sport's mix of speed, skill and brutality was also a big part of the appeal for many fans.
Even given the rough-and-tumble baseline that was already in place, something seemed to shift in the '70s."
Quoted from Sean McIndoe, "The down goes brown history of the NHL." 2018.

Steve says I WANT TO KNOW WHAT.
WHAT MADE IT DIFFERENT?
BECAUSE IT WAS DIFFERENT.
I MEAN THE FLYERS, THE BIG BAD
BRUINS OF THE EARLY 70s, THE
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS, THE BROAD
STREET BULLIES OF THE MIDDLE
70s, THEY WERE DIFFERENT.
THERE WERE PLAYERS CHARGED AT
MAPLE LEAF GARDENS WITH CRIMINAL
OFFENCES.
WHAT WAS GOING ON?

The caption changes to "A brutal game."

Sean says WELL, I MEAN AS I SAY
IN THE BOOK THERE HAD ALWAYS
BEEN FLIGHT AND VIOLENCE.
THE GORDIE HOWES OF THE LEAGUE
WHERE IF YOU WENT INTO THE
CORNER ONLY ONE WOULD COME OUT.
IT WAS PART OF HOW THE GAME WAS
SOLD.
WHAT CHANGED IN THE 70s WAS
YOU'VE GOT THAT EXPANSION.
SO THE LEAGUE HAS DOUBLED.
AND PRETTY SOON THEY TRIPLED
BECAUSE THEY ADD MORE TEAMS TWO
MORE IN 1970 AND TWO MORE IN
1972.
WHILE THIS HAPPEN AS RIVAL
LEAGUE STARTS UP, THE WORLD
HOCKEY LEAGUE.
IN 1976 THERE ARE SIX
PROFESSIONAL TEAMS TO 40 OF
THESE FLOATING AROUND.
THE AMOUNT OF TALENT JUST
COULDN'T KEEP UP.
SO SUDDENLY, YOU KNOW, IN THE
1960s WHEN THERE ARE SIX
TEAMS, THE IDEA OF HAVING AN
ENFORCER OR A GOON ON THE TEAM
DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.
BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAD 20 GUYS YOU
HAD TO HAVE SKILL.
THERE WAS ONLY SO MUCH SKILL
AVAILABLE.
IN THE 1970s THERE ISN'T AS
MUCH OF THAT.
SUDDENLY YOU GET THESE GUY THAT
IS ARE SPECIALISTS.
MAYBE THAT'S A POWERPLAY
QUARTERBACK OR MAYBE THAT'S A
GUY WHO'S JUST A DEFENSIVE
FORWARD THAT YOU MAINLY USE ON
THE PENALTY KILL OR MAYBE IT'S
DAVE "THE HAMMER" SCHULTZ WHO
WILL BE OUT THERE SAYING IF YOU
TOUCH BOBBY CLARKE I'M GOING TO
TOUCH YOU BACK AND YOU'RE NOTING
IT TO LIKE IT VERY MUCH.
YOU SEE THESE PENALTY RECORDS
GET BLOWN AWAY.
IN THE 60s IT WAS
EXTRAORDINARILY RARE FOR
SOMEBODY TO HAVE 200 MINUTES IN
THE 70s IT'S 300, 400, DAVE
SCHULTZ IS GETTING 450.
AND IT BECOMES ONE OF THESE
THINGS WHERE THE FLYERS ARE
GOING TO HAVE DAVE SCHULTZ THE
LEAFS BETTER HAVE TIGER
WILLIAMS.
IF THE LEAFS HAVE TIGER WILLIAMS
OTHER TEAMS NEED THEIR GUYS.
YOU GO INTO THE 80s AND MAYBE
ONE GUY ISN'T ENOUGH MAYBE WE
NEED TWO OR THREE OF THESE GUYS
AND YOU GET TO THE POINT WHERE
I'M GROWING UP AS A FAN AND
EVERY TEAM HAS TWO OR THREE GUYS
WHO ARE THERE AS ENFORCERS AND
WHAT THEY CAN DO WITH THEIR
FISTS.
IT STAYS THAT WAY FOR QUITE A
WHILE UNTIL FAIRLY RECENTLY
WHERE WE'VE SEEN IT GO BACK IN
THE OTHER DIRECTION.

Steve says MM-HMM.
I WANT TO ASK YOU A QUESTION
THAT HAS NO CORRECT ANSWER BUT
IT'S A GREAT DEBATING QUESTION.
I GUESS THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
IS WHEN YOU ASK PEOPLE WHAT WAS
THE GREATEST NHL TEAM OF ALL
TIME, THE TYPICAL ANSWER IS
THE MONTREAL CANADIENS OF THE
1950S BECAUSE THEY WON FIVE
CUPS IN A ROW AND NO ONE HAS
EVER DONE THAT SINCE.
WHAT'S YOUR ANSWER?

Sean says BOY, YOU KNOW WHAT?
THE MONTREAL CANADIENS OF THE
'50S IS A GREAT ONE. THE ONES OF
THE LATE '70S AS WELL THAT WON
THE FOUR STRAIGHT CUPS.

(OVERLAPPING TALKING)

Sean says SCOTTY BOWMAN COACHING.
I GREW UP AS A MAPLE LEAFS FAN.
I CAN'T BRING MYSELF TO SAY THAT
THE MONTREAL CANADIENS ARE THE...
I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GO BACK
HOME AND LOOK MY KIDS IN THE EYE
IF I SAID THAT.
I'M GOING TO GO WITH THE
EDMONTON OILERS... THAT
WAYNE GRETZKY ERA.
THEY DIDN'T WIN AS MANY IN A ROW
BECAUSE THEY HAD THE ONE YEAR
WHERE THEY SCORED INTO THEIR OWN
NET IN GAME 7.
I MEAN, YOU TAKE THAT, LET'S BE
HONEST, FLUKE PLAY AWAY... THIS
TEAM PROBABLY WINS FIVE STRAIGHT
STANLEY CUPS AND WINS ANOTHER
ONE EVEN WITHOUT WAYNE GRETZKY
AFTER THEY TRADE HIM.
JUST THE LEVEL OF TALENT AND
THE WAY THAT THEY... JUST RUINED
THE RECORD BOOKS TO THE POINT
WHERE, I MEAN, THESE DAYS THERE
IS SO MUCH TALENT TODAY.
NOBODY'S EVER GOING TO SET
ANOTHER OFFENSIVE RECORD FOR
YEARS AND YEARS BECAUSE THESE
GUYS HAVE JUST RUN AWAY WITH IT.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says YOU KNOW WHAT WE USED
TO DO IN MY HOCKEY POOLS IN THE
OLD DAYS? YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED
TO USE GRETZKY'S ASSISTS
BECAUSE IF YOU USED ALL OF HIS
POINTS, WHICH OFTEN WAS OVER
200, IT JUST WASN'T FAIR. THE
GUY WHO DRAFTED FIRST WOULD WIN.

Sean says EXACTLY. IT WAS OVER
BEFORE IT STARTED.
AND IT WAS CRAZY.
AND I KNOW PEOPLE THEY LOOK AT
WHAT WAYNE GRETZKY DID AND THEY
GO, "OH, 200 POINTS." BUT BACK
THEN SCORING WAS THROUGH THE
ROOF. THIS GIVES WINNING SCORING
TITLES BY 50 OR 60 POINTS. IT
WAS JUST AMAZING WHAT HE COULD
DO. HE, ON HIS OWN, WOULD HAVE
BEEN SOMETHING TO WATCH BUT
ONCE THEY WERE ABLE TO PUT THOSE
PIECES AROUND HIM AND BUILD THAT
TEAM AND THE FACT THAT HAVING
SPENT THE LAST 20 OR 25 YEARS
IN THIS ERA WHERE DEFENCE WINS
AND YOU GOTTA WIN 2-1.
THE FACT THAT THERE WAS A TEAM
OUT THERE GOING, "ALRIGHT, YOU
WANNA SCORE 8 GOALS ON US,
WE'LL SCORE 9 ON YOU. WE'LL
WIN THAT WAY."

Steve says AND THEY DID.

Sean says AND THEY DID.
THEY ABSOLUTELY DID.

Steve says LET'S DO TWO MORE
QUICKIES. NUMBER ONE, WHAT
WAS THE BEST SEASON EVER?

The caption changes to "Fun facts."

Sean says I HAD MADE THE CASE,
YOU KNOW, MAYBE THIS IS A LITTLE
BIT LIKE POP MUSIC WHERE THE
BEST SEASON IS THE ONE WHERE YOU
WERE 16 YEARS OLD.
MY FAVOURITE NHL SEASON OF ALL
TIME, 1992-93.
I THINK THERE WERE JUST SO MANY
FANTASTIC STORIES...

Steve says SEAN, HOW COULD ANY
SEASON WHERE THE MONTREAL
CANADIENS WIN THE STANLEY CUP
BE CONSIDERED A GOOD SEASON?

(OVERLAPPING TALKING)

Sean says THE LEAFS ARE GOING TO
PLAY THE KINGS IN GAME 7 AND I'M
SURE IT'S GOING TO TURN OUT.
THAT WAS A YEAR WITH SO MANY
FANTASTIC STORY LINES.
THE RESURGENCE OF THE LEAFS
OBVIOUSLY MY BIAS KICKING IN.
THAT WAS THE OFFICIAL END OF THE
HAROLD BALLARD ERA THEY HAVE
DOUG GILMOUR.
THEY GO INTO THE PLAYOFFS AND GO
ON THIS GREAT RUN.
BUT ALL OF THESE THINGS, TEEMU
SELANNE, SCORING IS UP.
IT'S REALLY THE LAST SEASON
WHERE THESE BIG SCORING NUMBERS
LOTS OF PLAYERS COMING IN OVER
100 POINTS, MARIO LEMIEUX COMES
BACK FROM CANCER ONLY PLAYS 60
POINTS BUT STILL WINS THE
SCORING TITLE.
GOING DOWN THE LINE.
ALL THE GREAT MOMENTS, THE MAY
DAY GOAL, THE DAVID MOLLETT
GOAL, EVEN THE CANADIENS WITH
THEIR OVERTIME RUN IT'S A REAL
ENTERTAINING SEASON.
AND TO ME THAT'S THE YEAR THAT
YOU POINT TO IF YOU WANT TO SHOW
SOMEBODY YOU ARE TRYING TO
CONVERT TO A HOCKEY FAN THIS IS
WHAT HOCKEY CAN BE: HIGH
SCORING, FUN, LOTS OF
EXCITEMENT, LOTS OF GREAT
STORIES.
THAT'S WHAT IT CAN BE.
AND HOPEFULLY FINGERS CROSSED
MAYBE SOME DAY CAN BE AGAIN.

Steve says LAST QUESTION: WHAT
IS THE LONGEST CURRENT STANLEY CUP DROUGHT?

Sean says OH, BOY, YOU'RE GOING
TO MAKE ME... THE LONGEST
CURRENT... ALL RIGHT.
YOU COULD ARGUE IT'S THE MAPLE
LEAFS.
GOING BACK TO 1967.
THE ST. LOUIS BLUES ARE RIGHT
THERE WITH THEM.
CAN WE POINT TO SOMEONE LIKE THE
OTTAWA SENATORS?

Steve says OKAY, THE OTTAWA
SENATORS HAVEN'T WON A STANLEY
CUP SINCE 1927 THAT'S WAY WORSE
THAN THE LEAFS.

Sean says AND PEOPLE WILL SAY
IT'S A DIFFERENT TEAM BUT YOU GO
TO THE RINK IN OTTAWA AND THEY
HAVE THOSE STANLEY CUP BANNERS
HANGING SO I THINK THAT
QUALIFIES. LET'S GO WITH THAT.

Steve says THE FACT THAT THE TEAM
DIDN'T EXIST FOR DECADES THAT'S
AN ASTERISK.

Sean says I HAVE HAD OTTAWA FANS
SAY THAT.
AND I SAY WE HAD HAROLD BALLARD
SO WE BOTH HAD THE SAME CHANCE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Meredith Martin, @MeredithMartin."

Steve says THAT'S SEAN McINDOE.
"THE DOWN GOES BROWN HISTORY OF
THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE" IS A
VERY FUN AND NOSTALGIC READ AND
A REALLY TERRIFIC READ IF YOU
WANT TO BE INTRODUCED TO THE
SPORT.
IT IS THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL
SPORT, THE WORLD'S MOST
RIDICULOUS LEAGUE.
THANKS A LOT, SEAN.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Sean says THANK YOU.

Watch: The NHL: A Ridiculous History