Read an Excerpt
Inside the world of hockey trivia with Liam Maguire. To say the least, it’s an unusual world. The years have flown by. It seems like only yesterday that I’d get on the school bus on a Monday morning, bound for St. Leonard’s or St. Pius in the Ottawa area. Waiting patiently in the back would be Phil Byrne, ready to drill me on all the teams’ leading scorers and who had accomplished what over the weekend in the NHL. On another day at St. Pius, in Mr. Duggan’s science class, I spent the better part of the 40 minutes memorizing the Hart Trophy winners from the 1930s. That’s when Brian Leroux, without question the smartest kid I ever knew, taught me my first memory tip.
“The 1930s are easy, Liam. Only two cities won the Hart Trophy in that decade: Montreal and Boston. Eddie Shore was a four-time winner – 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1938. Toe Blake won in 1939 for Montreal, Babe Siebert in 1937, Aurel Joliat in 1934, Howie Morenz in 1932 and 1931 and Nels Stewart in 1930 with the Montreal Maroons. Two cities, three teams, easy.” This, of course, from a kid who, in high school, would ace algebra and calculus exams. And I’m not kidding, he would get 100 percent on them.
Later that year, Brian and four others were a part of a night that changed my life forever.
In September 1975, Brian, Rob Drapeau, Paul Horsecroft, Chris Traynor, Andrew Marquis and I attended an exhibition game at the Ottawa Civic Centre between Montreal and Chicago. To find out who was in the lineup you had to purchase a media guide for two bucks. Nice little scam. We all bought one. I took that little booklet home that night and read it from cover to cover well into the night. Names like the aforementioned Toe Blake, Dickie Moore, Elmer Lach, Bill Durnan, George Hainsworth and many others were documented throughout, along with the current players, and there was loads of statistical information and trivia. The next day at lunch we had a little trivia contest. I happened to have retained the most, probably because I’d been reading until two in the morning, and the seed was sown.
Over the next six years, I developed an insatiable appetite to read everything hockey-related, specifically on the NHL. I took one of my many Montreal Canadiens sweaters and had the words “NHL Trivia Expert” silk-screened on the back. Once I reached drinking age – and maybe once or twice before – my buddies and I would go into the watering holes around Ottawa and, after a couple of pints, I’d take my jacket off so patrons could read this bold statement. Inevitably the questions would soon be flying and another great hockey night would be in full swing.
This routine would alter drastically after May 21, 1981.
By now I was an employee of Rideau Township, working at the Manotick Arena. I was a rink attendant – drove the Zamboni, mopped up, played lots of hockey, and of course read NHL stats every single day. One day, after flooding the rink, I was lying on top of the Zamboni and listening to a call-in show on radio station CFRA. Hal Anthony was the host. He was using both phone lines to run a trivia contest, and some of the questions were hockey-oriented. It was late in the show. I phoned in, and cleaned the plate of hockey questions. So he asked me to throw one out to the public for the last few minutes of the show. I asked, “What was the first year the Montreal Canadiens won the Cup?”
Although there were a number of other questions still unanswered from other subjects, the last dozen or so callers all tried to answer mine. They would guess 1914 and I’d say, “No, that was the Toronto Blueshirts.” They’d guess 1917, and I’d say, “No, that was the Seattle Metropolitans.” And so on. Finally, Mr. Anthony asked if I had a book in front of me and I told him I didn’t. The show ended and that was that.
A couple of weeks later he ran the same type of show. I phoned in again. He asked me to contact him after the show and I did, at which point he asked me if I’d come in and be a studio guest. The date of my first appearance was May 21, 1981. I did a two-hour call-in show, my first one, and I missed seven questions in two hours.
That was 20 years ago.
Since that time I’ve done over 1,300 radio and television appearances, banquets, dinners – you name it, I’ve probably done it. I’ve been on Hockey Night in Canada and every other national radio and TV station, been featured in countless newspaper and Internet articles and columns. All because of hockey trivia.
The book you are about to read and digest is a culmination of what makes Liam Maguire tick with regards to hockey trivia. What I do in my gigs and my personal appearances is to try and give the audience the rest of the story. There’s so much more behind every record, every statistic, every name and every team.
Here’s an example: Wayne Gretzky scored his 500th career goal on November 22, 1986, against Vancouver and it was into an empty net. You can find out that much in a lot of places. What you won’t find is that Troy Gamble was the goalie of record for Vancouver and that this was the only game he would play all year in the NHL.
Here’s another: Rocket Richard scored his first NHL goal on November 8, 1942, and 10 years later to the day, November 8, 1952, he became the NHL’s career goal-scoring leader. Gordie Howe broke the Rocket’s record 11 years later almost to the day, on November 10, 1963, and it was scored shorthanded. The Red Wing in the box was serving a major penalty, the only one of his career. He was also the first player in the NHL from Newfoundland. His name was Alex Faulkner.
Bobby Orr set the single-season goal-scoring record for a defenceman in 1969. The previous mark was 20 goals. Orr scored number 21 on his 21st birthday, March 20, 1969. The time of the goal was 19:59 – one second to play in the game.
Wayne Gretzky scored his first career goal in the NHL on October 14, 1979. The time was 18:51. Ten years later, almost to the day, on October 15, 1989, he passed Gordie Howe for career points with a goal against his former team, the Oilers. The number of career points he now had? 1,851.
Isn’t that wild? And these coincidences happen all the time. This is what I do. I take you into the twilight zone of hockey trivia.
What you’ll also get in this book is a little bit of editorial content. I’ve pointed out a couple of key dates and times in my life when things changed drastically. Another was January 6, 1998. I made my first appearance on a show called Off the Record, with Michael Landsberg on TSN. I was one of three guests – Sherry Bassin and Jason Ward were the other two – and over the next half hour we discussed the merits of Canadian hockey. This was at a time when national emotion was running high. The World Junior team, featuring Ward and others, had just finished eighth, their worst finish ever. There was a lot of finger-pointing going on. I went on that show swinging verbally from the floor at the Canadian media, and in the last chapter of this book you’ll find out why and what has transpired since that time that I like and dislike. And while I’m on the subject, I weigh in on the greatest travesty of all: the exclusion of Paul Henderson from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
We’ve all heard or used the expression, “Don’t burn that bridge.” Well, I’ve blown many bridges to kingdom come. Despite those setbacks, and through all the good times and bad, I always fall back on hockey trivia. On this subject, I take no back seat. So sit back, snap a cap and enjoy. And I encourage and welcome everyone to contact me with their thoughts, memories and comments.
Liam Maguire firstname.lastname@example.org