Thursday, 20 November 2008


I love old photos. The historical aspects seen in each photo tells a lot about the timeframe in which the photo was taken. If the adage of "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true, I'm a believer. Life Magazine, in partnering with Google, has now made 10 million of their photos available via the Google Image Search, and some of these photos are truly amazing. From the start of the 20th century, Life Magazine has been compiling these photos, but the majority have never been seen by the public. In fact, Google and Life claim that 97% of the photos released to Google have never been seen! I've compiled a few of these, so let's run down some of the highlights. I'll also include some other photos I haven't had a chance to post yet. Let's take a look at some phenomenal hockey history.

I'll start with the Montreal Canadiens since they are the most storied franchise in NHL history. Jacques Plante, seen here wearing his mask, was a pioneer in hockey, and had a number of photographs taken of him. However, it was rare to get a picture of him without his mask. Life Magazine captured a picture of Mr. Plante in 1959 in the dressing room between periods. In another fabulous photo, Life also captured Jean Beliveau in his Quebec Aces sweater before he joined the Montreal Canadiens. Photos like these are absolute gold to me.

Moving on, the Chicago Blackhawks have a pile of photos in the Life Magazine gallery. Mike Karakas was the NHL's first American-born and trained goaltender, and starred with the Black Hawks. The Bentley brothers were a trio of stars for the Black Hawks. Bill Mosienko's fastest hat-trick in NHL history was memorialized on film. Mosienko turned the trick in 21 seconds versus the New York Rangers on March 23, 1952. Check out the uniform worn by Lionel Conacher - fabulous look, despite the all-black colour. Bobby Hull had his famous #9 retired by the Blackhawks, but how many people remember him wearing #16 and winning a Stanley Cup? And, while this photo isn't from Life Magazine, check out this Black Hawks player from the 1920s. Fabulous sweater!

From there, I have a few odds and ends that need to be seen. It's strange to see owners sitting in the crowd amongst the paying customers today, but Conn Smythe sat with everyone else in 1951 when he owned the Maple Leafs. I've never liked athletes in poses, but this Terry Sawchuk photo from 1952 shows a rudimentary blocker and a pretty nice shiner. Sawchuk never liked masks. Dave Kerr stacks the pads in the 1940s. The old-time Rangers sweater looks far different than today's jerseys.

Life Magazine has shown some impressive photography, and I'm excited to be able to sift through all their old images. However, there have been other pictures that need to be seen as well.

The Vancouver Sun took suggestions from kids as to what the new Vancouver Canucks alternate jerseys should look like. In a recent edition, they published the best of the bunch, and there certainly are some interesting ideas. At least kids in Vancouver have more creativity and imagination than the designers who worked on Dallas' alternate jersey.

There was definitely some sadness after the announcement of Alexei Cherepanov's passing, and the players in the NHL who were close to him obviously felt the loss of a dynamic, young player. In New York, Rangers' forward Nikolai Zherdev had been excited to play with the youngster next season, and clearly was forming a bond with Cherepanov through Jagr. When the announcement was made of his death, Zherdev took refuge on the bench to grieve for his friend. Brandon Dubinsky let Zherdev know he was not alone when it came to losing Cherepanov as a teammate and friend. A very classy move by Brandon Dubinsky in my opinion.

Josh Harding has been sporting a new mask for sometime, but, apparently, I missed the memo. Here's the side view of Harding's mask showing some pond hockey. I like it. I like it a lot.

If you're interested in wading through the myriad of photos that Google has already posted from the Life Magazine archives, please click here. Lots of good stuff in there, and hopefully they'll add more!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Jennifer Hammer said...

outstanding. And I love that someone took the time to dig through the Life pictures.

the one of Dubinsky and Zherdev, rips my heart out every time.

Anonymous said...

"the one of Dubinsky and Zherdev, rips my heart out every time."

You said it man. It's nice to see compasion like that in a sport of grit.

I really enjoyed Hull with the Cup photo mainly because even with such olde tyme photography you can still see the beautiful shine of Lord Stanley's chalice.