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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Despite the fact that it is New Year's Eve, the crowd is on its best behavior. Except for Jiggs and a few others, there is no evidence of pregame celebrating. Hockey is too serious a matter in Montreal to be blurred by too many cocktails.
Because it is New Year's Eve, there are more children than usual among the 13,000 patrons. This has been the day when French children receive their gifts and the luckiest ones have been given this extra special treat. For many, it is obviously the first hockey game they have seen. As the crowd suddenly roars, a little girl in a fur-trimmed hat, no more than 5 years old, turns to a proper-looking man in a Homburg and fur-collared great coat to ask: "What is it, Papa?" "The Rocket has the puck!" replies Papa, jumping to his feet an instant later to scream, "Le coude, le coude!" ("The elbow!") as he considers a Chicago Blackhawk to be giving the jab to the idol of all Montreal, Maurice (The Rocket) Richard. When the referee does not react, Papa joins a chorus of "Choo! Choo!" the Gallic booing form, and then cries out as an afterthought, "Achete toi des longue-vues!" This last advises the referee to invest in a pair of binoculars.
When Chicago opens the scoring in the 10th minute of the first period, a resentful murmur sweeps over the arena. Then the crowd pouts in silence. But three minutes later, Henri (The Pocket Rocket) Richard, younger brother of the incomparable Maurice, passes to the Rocket himself in front of the goal and the score is tied. The explosion lacks only a mushroom cloud. Seconds later, Kenny Mosdell scores again for Les Canadiens and in a box high in the rafters, a fur-coated woman spectator leans precariously over the edge to pound her fist against an advertisement in sheer joy. (For a report on Les Canadiens and what makes them such an engrossing team, see next week's issue.) In the stands below, men embrace each other and pretty girls laugh and let themselves be kissed. The little man who looks like Jiggs implores the French-speaking fans who have hemmed him in: "What happened, what happened?" Nobody tells him.
Now the Pocket Rocket is slammed into the fence by Allan Stanley of the Chicagoans and is carried off with a sprained ankle, and for the first time the crowd bares its fangs. "Choo, choo!" yells Papa as his little girl looks up at him anxiously, "get Stanley, get Stanley!" The gallery roars, "Assomme le!" which is to say, "Slug him!" Maurice the Rocket does not fail them. He nails the villainous Stanley with a bodycheck that sends him sprawling and the crowd goes off, happily avenged, to the concession stands below the stands.
Watching the crowd at the counters where the hot chocolate is sold, a stranger finds it difficult to believe that some part of the same kind of crowd participated in the riots of last spring. It is better not to mention the affair in Montreal now, for the city still feels the shame.
This does not mean that the crowd has become afraid to let its righteous anger boil up a little when events on the ice call for it. Thus, in the final period, when Les Canadiens break a 3-3 tie and stage a stick-whacking, body-slamming rally, the crowd lets itself go. And when this Chicago person, this Monsieur Tiny Tony Leswick, dares to make himself objectionable to Jean Beliveau and the Rocket himself and when the idiot of a referee fails to see things as clearly as the crowd can, what is there to do but roll up newspapers and programs and hurl them down on the ice and (this is a real sacrifice for it is snowing heavily outside) pull off one's overshoes and aim them as well at the dull-witted officials? Could a man who calls himself a citizen of Montreal do less?
But depend upon the Rocket, Maurice Richard, to right matters. Setting up two of the three Montreal goals in the third period (he scored the 500th goal of his career only two nights before) the Rocket sparks the 7-3 victory, and the laughing crowd streams out of the arena with backs being slapped and pretty girls being kissed. Now it is time for the other affairs of the holiday eve and surely there has been enough of hot chocolate for this night. Except, perhaps, that the man who looks like Jiggs could do with a little. The French-speaking fans who held him prisoner all evening have started out now and he finds himself suddenly free. It is too late to learn exactly what has happened, but Jiggs does the least that any friendly fellow can do on a night like this. Throwing out his arms, he raises his misty eyes to the rafters and declaims with bilingual fervor: "Happy New Year to all from Paddy O'Brien! Hinkey dinkey parley voo!"
GOLF BUSINESS, 1955
Each year about this time the Professional Golfers Association tots up a few figures on how its members performed through the previous twelvemonth. The very paucity of these statistics—such as the total earnings of the 25 leading pros, the average strokes per round of the contenders for the Vardon Cup (which is awarded to the lowest) and the somewhat incomprehensible point scores for the Ryder Cup team competition—simply tend to emphasize the thin diet of the armchair golfer. Once he has digested this small collection of numerals (and it shouldn't take him long if he has passed the fourth grade), there is little left for him to talk about until the arrival of the spring thaw.
It is in the interest of these shut-ins that SI herewith presents some simple mathematical constructions from the available data: