Friday, 18 October 2013

A Glimpse Into History

The image to the left is pretty iconic for hockey fans. That's Ace Bailey shaking hands with Eddie Shore at the benefit for Bailey. Bailey, of course, was attacked by Eddie Shore from behind, causing Bailey's skull to be fractured. The fact that these two men were able to shake hands is, in my view, pretty amazing considering what Shore did to Bailey in ending his career. The one thing that has always been missing, though, is footage of the attack. Thanks to the Boston Public Library's Flickr account, though, we do have some stills of what was happening on the ice after the attack happened.

December 12, 1933 would be the night that Bailey's hockey days would end after Shore's attack. There aren't many people who had a better vantage point of what happened that night than former Maple Leaf Red Horner. In an interview with the Hockey Hall of Fame, Horner explained the events of the night.
"Eddie Shore was having a very frustrating night. He was playing a great game but it wasn't getting him or the Bruins anywhere. They couldn't score on us. Dick Irvin sent out King Clancy and myself and Ace Bailey up front to kill off the penalties. Bailey was a very expert stickhandler, and he ragged the puck for awhile. Eventually, Shore got his stick on the puck and made a nice rush deep into our end. Shore came down my side and I gave him a very good hipcheck.

"He wanted to get even for the check I'd just put on him. He thought Bailey was me. He charged into Bailey on an angle from the side. He hit Bailey and flipped him in the air, just like a rag doll. Bailey landed on his head just a few feet from where I was standing. Bailey hit the ice and he went into some kind of convulsion. I thought to myself, 'That's the end of Ace!'

"Shore skated away in a very nonchalant fashion. I wasn't going to let him get away with that, so I went after him."
The results of what went down were many. Bailey was left unconscious on the ice. Horner, upon checking on his fallen teammate, became enraged and set out after Shore, seeking an explanation for what he had done. Shore never uttered a word, smiling at Horner after exacting his vengeance. This led to Horner attacking Shore, leaving him in a bloody mess.

Bailey spent the first night at Audubon Hospital before being transferred to City Hospital where he underwent surgeries to relieve pressure on his brain. Things looked grim for Bailey, and the hospital even went as far as bringing in a priest to read Bailey his last rites. After four days in hospital, however, Bailey suddenly took a turn for the better and his recovery began. Amazingly, Bailey made a full recovery to see the Ace Bailey Benefit Game which is where the lede photo was taken.

Shore suffered a three-inch gash to his head after the initial Horner hit, and was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for his attack on Bailey. Shore claims he was in such a daze from the hit delivered by Horner that he hadn't realized what he had done to Bailey. It wasn't until Ace Bailey told Bruins' general manager Art Ross from his hospital bed that he he felt Shore wasn't malicious in his intent that the NHL would consider re-instating Eddie Shore. Shore finally returned to the ice on January 28, 1934 - 16 games after the incident.

Again, with no footage, it appeared that hearsay would be the best that we would get on this incident. But thanks to the Boston Public Library's Flickr account, we now can see the aftermath seconds after Bailey was injured.
As you can see, there is a large crowd of players around Bailey as he lay on the ice. Identifying these players seems a little difficult because of the lack of information on the internet, but I'll do my best. The Leafs' goaltender in the background is George Hainsworth. He won't factor into the story, but he was on the ice. #4 in the scrum near Bailey is Hap Day. #17 skating into the scrum appears to be Frank "Buzz" Boll based on appearance. #10 is Joe Primeau. It's clear a couple of Leafs are already thinking about pursuing Shore for leaving Bailey prone on the ice.
It appears that this photo is next in the sequence of the three photos found. #5 is Andy Blair. #8 is Harold Cotton. #11, skating away from where Shore is on the ice on the right, looks like Busher Jackson. #16 ushering the trainer over to Bailey appears to be Bill Thoms. It appears that Shore, still dazed, may have fallen to the ice as well.
#12 in the Toronto group is Hec Kilrea along with #16 Bill Thoms. They appear to be carrying the unconscious Bailey off the ice if you look closely. #2, skating nearest in the picture, is aforementioned Red Horner who hasn't really been seen in any photos yet.

Now I'm not calling Horner a liar because his account seems pretty close to the photo evidence above. But as for Horner skating by Shore to yell at him about the hit? I'm not sure that part may have happened as he described. The photos above seem to only show one Leafs player near Shore at any time, and that's in the third photo when Horner is at the bottom of the image. But to support Horner, there was no time-lapse photos taken in 1933, so the shoot-and-reload for the old-style cameras may not tell the whole story.

What is truthful, though, is that Bailey and Shore were both down on the ice, and Bailey was certainly carried off the ice. Horner was on the ice as stated, and there were a lot of other players who made it onto the ice to assess the situation. Of that much, we can be certain thanks to the photos and thanks to the Boston Public Library's Flickr account.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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