A VIEW FROM SLATS
Once again, we at Hockeenight have the distinct pleasure and honor of featuring the one and only Slats Radke as a contributor. As you may recall, Slats covered professional hockey for the Chicago American throughout the 1960s and early 70s. He has agreed to offer his unique insight upon occasion. So, with no further ado, Slats Radke:
So the one Meathead calls me last night to tell me he went to Mexico. Why would anyone want to go all the way down there, especially during hockey season, when the Wisconsin Dells are so close? He said he got a suntan. I told him he might not want to go around any hockey players, since hockey players laugh at guys with suntans.
I remember once, the Hawks went to play in Los Angeles when the Kings first got started. They wore these purple and gold uniforms, the Kings did, which everyone knows are the colors of royalty. This made a lot of sense, them being called the Kings and all. They had a big crown on the front of their sweater, which led to their best line being called the Triple Crown Line, which was Dionne, Simmer, and Talyor, three fine forwards. And Dionne was a little guy, but he could skate, and scored a lot of goals besides. In fact, in Gretzky's first year in the league, Dionne had just as many points as Gretzky did, and they were both little guys.
And little guys can play in this league. Stosh was a little guy, and he played with Ab McDonald, another little guy. They were called the Scooter Line, because they were little guys. But Stosh kept his elbows and butt end of the stick up, he was a tough son of a gun. Swoop was another one, he kept his elbows up too, which is why in New York they called him "Elbows Nesterenko", and they would know, because they used to play in this place on Eighth Avenue, where everyone was always elbowing each other before they moved into this beautiful new place across from the Hotel Pennsylvania. In fact, the Hotel Pennsylvania's phone number was Pennsylvania 6-5000, which was made popular in the fine Glenn Miller song. They sure don't make songs like that anymore.
So the Hawks decide since they're in California during hockey season, a bunch of the boys decide to get up bright and early. Some of them go play some golf, some go to the beach, some just sit by the pool at the hotel. Just like regular movie stars, these guys. I went out to the track, and somebody told me that Jack Benny owned one of the horses so I bet on it because Jack Benny was a wonderful entertainer. I used to listen to his radio show before it was on television, and watched him on television too. Not to mention, he's a local boy who grew up in Waukegan. His birthday is Valentine's Day, you know.
Whenever old Slats has been married, I've always made sure my wife got a nice box of Fannie May candies, along with beautiful roses from Jewel's. They have real nice flowers there, and they don't cost as much as they do at the fancy florist shops. I realize you might not look like a tough guy walking around with a bunch of roses, but at least everyone knows you've got a girl waiting, although these days who knows anymore.
So everyone shows up at the rink, which was called the Forum, and had carpeting everywhere. This was unheard of back then, having a carpet in a hockey rink. Not on the ice, mind you, but the hallway leading to the press box, and all the other hallways too. And the seats were all really comfortable. They even had clean ash trays, which was something, especially considering you can't even smoke like a man should be allowed to in a rink anymore, which is why I never go to the games.
So Billy Reay takes one look at these guys, and they all have the sunburn. Which made him even redder than they were, which was pretty red, especially since in those days they had just started wearing their red sweaters for road games, and were wearing the whites at home, which had previously been their road sweaters. This was worse in New York, because they wore their whites at home too, even though the New York writers called them the Broadway Blueshirts, which made no sence since their rink wasn't on Broadway and they now only wore blue for road games.
The game starts up, and don't you know nobody on the Hawks can take a hit because of the sunburn. By the end of the game, nobody on the team, even tough guys like Mags and the Golden Jet, could go into the corners with an egg in their pocket and get any broken. By the third period they are just flinching any time anyone looks at them crosseyed.
That was the end of them going out in the sun in California, which is why you never see hockey players with suntans.