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MY FIRST LAST RITES
Ted Green
November 15, 1971
December 2, 1970. As I skated out to my right defense position for the Boston Bruins in Chicago Stadium, I was thinking: I wonder if this game will be better? Here we are, halfway through the season, halfway through another game, and I still don't want to be here. I don't like the nervous feeling I get when I go on the ice. I don't like thinking the way I'm thinking or the way my hands sweat and my knees shake. I don't like not being able to do the job as I want to do it. My doctors and teammates tell me to forget these things—just think about playing hockey. It's so easy for them to say, so hard for me to do. I can't forget that easily.
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November 15, 1971

My First Last Rites

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Frosty quickly made a little mold for a temporary splint, while I thought I can use my left! I can use my left! I can use my left! The words rang in my mind as Frosty worked fast; I don't think I missed a turn on the ice. When Tom Johnson gave the word, I jumped the boards with Awrey, ready for anything.

I played the rest of the game with that broken finger, and not only did I not worry about what might happen, I played exceptionally well. Nothing much did happen, really. The Hawks had learned something, too, and they left me alone. When the puck came into my zone, nobody came barreling hard after it the way everyone had before. Nobody wanted to tangle with me or start a fight or try to belt me around. I thought They're not afraid of hurting me anymore. They're afraid of me hurting them.

We lost the game, which didn't make me happy, but my heart was singing when it was over. They could call me Terrible Teddy Green all they wanted to now. It was just an incident, but what an incident! It taught me to feel what everyone, including the doctors who checked me from time to time, had been telling me right along: my left side was strong; I could expose it to anything I had ever exposed it to before, and it would hold up.

In the locker room later Frosty and Dan Canney, our head trainer, made a removable metal splint, while guys came in and out, joking and patting my back and saying things like, "what the hell's a broken finger?" Despite the loss, they were happy for me. They knew I had found something I'd been looking for all year—myself, the old Teddy Green.

September 21, 1969. Ottawa, clean and beautiful, glistened beneath a warm sun that Sunday morning. It was a lovely day, a lovely town, a lovely place to be. It was good to be alive, to go to Mass and give thanks to God for my wife and children and parents, and for the talent to play hockey which He had blessed me with.

I strolled with Turk Sanderson past the Chateau Laurier Hotel and through the greenery of Parliament Park, its old, impressive government buildings towering over acres of grass extending the seven or eight blocks between the Chateau and the Ottawa General Hospital. The grounds looked like a huge, flat, marvelously well-kept golf course that was all fairway and no greens. Although this was my eighth season with the Bruins and my 11th in professional hockey, I had never seen Ottawa, which is slightly off the beaten paths between NHL cities and is almost 300 miles from our training camp in London, Ontario.

I don't remember much of the conversation with Turk, except that I remarked how foolish it was to go all-out in training or any of the preseason exhibition games we played, and that I didn't intend to do so. We were in Ottawa for a game that night with the St. Louis Blues, who trained there. The preceding night we had played an exhibition with the Canadiens in Montreal. I never liked exhibition games because of the chances of getting hurt before the regular season. What with injuries or contract disputes, I doubt if I had played more than half a dozen exhibition games the previous five years. I kept myself in condition during the off season at my home in St. Boniface, just outside Winnipeg. The only reason I cared about training at all after I made the club was to get into skating shape, which never took more than a few weeks.

I had played in the Montreal game and was to play again that night against the Blues. I wasn't happy about it and told Sanderson so, but I needed the work; I had reported late to training camp. I remember being very pleased because, after a summer of doubt and some hassling over my contract, everything had just been settled. Only a few days before, Charlie Mulcahy, the Bruins' lawyer, and I had reached an agreement. I'd had a great year the season before—I made the second NHL All-Star team and now I was getting a new three-year contract at a nice raise. The only reason I hadn't actually signed was that a few clauses were being changed on paper in Boston. All I had was a handshake, but with the Bruins that was all I needed. The signing would come in due time.

After meandering through the park for an hour or so, Turk and I went back to the hotel. I loafed around with the guys, ate and slept a little before going with the team to the arena in the city's new Civic Center. We arrived a couple of hours before the game, our usual procedure, and horsed around in the locker room before changing into uniform. There is this thing on the club about me looking Jewish, and every once in a while the guys call me "Abie." This is one of the ways we all loosen up—yelling foolish names at each other. Anyway, somebody said this was a Jewish holiday and asked me if I was going to play that night. If Sandy Koufax could take a Jewish holiday off, why couldn't I? While the guys were kidding me, Milt Schmidt, our general manager walked into the dressing room. When I saw him, I handed him my skates and said, "I can't play tonight."

"What the hell's wrong with you?" he said.

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