View Full Version : WIS Productions Presents ... Once Upon a Time in Hockey East

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Chuck Murray
08-08-2019, 01:55 PM
There's been some discussion of late regarding how things aren't quite the same in Hockey East these days, and how the league's good ol' days have long since passed, back at around the turn of the century (and millennium). Which got me to thinking … and that's always a dangerous proposition now, isn't it? Anyway, I've been kicking around going back to revisit those "good ol' days" through the prism of time since passed, and I came up with something I hope you folks will find entertaining and enjoyable - or at least it will give you a reason to check in while we wait for the 2019/2020 HE season to begin.

I'm not going to start this up today, but I'm posting this here and now to force myself to stop kicking the can down the road, and to get the show on the road. So, next up …

Once Upon a Time in Hockey East :) :D ;)

08-10-2019, 12:49 PM
OMG while we wait for that can you revisit The Godfaddah?? Still one of the best things ever to come out of this site.

08-10-2019, 02:16 PM
Should be a fun thread. Chuck's campaign to be next HEA Commish was launched in the Joe Bertagna exit-after-2019/2020-season thread, also worth a read.

08-10-2019, 02:28 PM
OMG while we wait for that can you revisit The Godfaddah?? Still one of the best things ever to come out of this site.

Somebody's got to have that somewhere.

I wonder whether 90% of the people here now have any idea just what on earth we're talking about.

Timothy A
08-10-2019, 03:40 PM
Gotta change the title. WIS gets me every time.

Chuck Murray
08-15-2019, 10:04 AM
WIS Disclaimer

What follows here - Once Upon a Time in Hockey East - is a semi-literate work of semi-fiction. Some names, characters, programs/businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the vivid imagination of WIS, and/or used in a borderline fictitious manner. Any vague resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is somewhat coincidental and somewhat imagined, and meant to bring some level of good-natured entertainment to the semi-tolerant USCHO cognoscenti.

Setting The Scene

Emerging from the shadows cast in the aftermath of the Great War in the middle of the preceding century, college hockey was a niche sport that stumbled across the deserted plains of the larger American sports scene for decades in relative anonymity, far from the bright lights of Broadway or Montreal. Programs were existing on the fringes of their school's athletics budgets, well behind the larger sports, which were played on grandiose gridirons. Games were played in primitive barns, unheated and dimly lit, sometimes surrounded by chicken wire fencing. Media coverage was sparse, where it existed at all. Players played for the thrill of the competition, and opportunities for advancement in the sport were effectively limited to the goon leagues with teams placed in hardscrabble mill towns where players were kin with the working class folks many of them would soon enough become themselves. Helmets were mandated, as if to further reinforce the players' limited prospects, in sharp contrast to the helmetless gods playing at the top levels. All players were four year players … but only three years would count, and then only after an enforced year-long apprenticeship. Grades mattered, and if you didn't keep up, you'd be off to that goon league destination sooner than planned, and likely to that job in the mills, too. Alcohol and tobacco were staples, both in locker rooms and as training supplements, as if to cope with those harsh realities, present and future. These were commonly known as the Dark Ages of College Hockey.

But then, something happened, when a group of these young cowboys broke off together to take on the world in what became a watershed moment not only for college hockey, but for international hockey as well. Suddenly, the players who were used to the harsh realities of their anonymous sport were thrust into the limelight, and with it, more attention began to be cast upon college hockey as the incubator for this world-wide "miracle". This newfound attention brought with it the usual growing pains, as old ways clashed with new thinking, and the resulting dynamics and upheaval led to new approaches. Among those was the birth of Hockey East, with 7 teams cleaved out of the stale and stodgy ECAC. At a time in an era where the way sports were viewed was radically being reshaped, as evidenced by a precursor league in a different sport over much of the same footprint, Hockey East offered the long-standing devotees of the sport a new, broader outlook. Its players - now far less anonymous - enjoyed better prospects and more freedom, and took training more seriously. And its coaches - well, some of them became mythical figures.

Some of these mythic figures did battle amongst each other, as well as against the mere mortals among them, overlapping both sides of the turn of the century. And then, slowly but surely, it all but faded away. But the feats of these mythical men remain alive, as they themselves have faded away. Here at USCHO, those of us fortunate enough to have been there still recall those years of glory, when great battles were fought by mythical figures, for both worthy and not-so-worthy causes.

That's where we'll pick up next time with the first installment of Once Upon a Time in Hockey East … :)


08-16-2019, 11:55 AM
Somebody's got to have that somewhere.

I wonder whether 90% of the people here now have any idea just what on earth we're talking about.

While looking for that one, could someone please find the "who is Holy Cross" post?

08-16-2019, 05:59 PM
While looking for that one, could someone please find the "who is Holy Cross" post?

That was written yesterday compared to the WIS stuff.

Chuck Murray
08-17-2019, 08:24 AM
That was written yesterday compared to the WIS stuff.

I think I saved Da Godfaddah somewhere, but I doubt it's still accessible on USCHO. I did an offseason re-run about 5 years after the initial run, and I haven't gone back to it since. Doing the re-run took almost as much time as the original, with all the cut and paste from the original source. Had lots of help at the time from former USCHO/UNH poster olddog, who I need to catch up with soon. If I figure out when it first ran (I know, I make it sound like a feature film this way :rolleyes: ) maybe there will be a 20th anniversary edition a couple of summers from now, if I make it that long myself? :D

Hoping to get to the first real installment of OUATIHE in the next few days. :)

08-19-2019, 01:45 PM
I am hoping this thread touches on posters who have since disappeared like Stevef, Bobo, the BU guy who boasted about how much he made...Ritt18? The TBAs. The list goes on and on.

08-19-2019, 05:28 PM
Ritt was a BC guy. Well, I’m sure he still is.

08-19-2019, 07:54 PM
I am hoping this thread touches on posters who have since disappeared like Stevef, Bobo, the BU guy who boasted about how much he made...Ritt18? The TBAs. The list goes on and on.

darin, too.

08-19-2019, 09:22 PM
Mookie still thinks nesn should have done a reality show “layin’ gravel” starring our favorite hea ref :)

Chuck Murray
08-23-2019, 11:17 AM
Chapter One - Once Upon a Time … Somewhere Near Effingwoods

It was a cold, sunny, early Spring day at the train depot, as the diminutive depot master updated the day's arrivals and departures on the depot's chalkboard (*1), while his loyal assistant Wild E. Cat silently swept the floors and tended to the other chores around the station's inner sanctum. Another day, unlike a countless stream of similar mundane days … but the quiet of the daily routine was interrupted by the arrival of a group of strange-yet-familiar stooges in the various entryways of the depot. The men were silly and boisterous initially, cladded in full length hooded caribou skin parkas. But the seriousness of their mission gradually squelched the festivities, as they turned their attention to the station master, towering over him with their concealed firearms now apparent …

BS: Good day gentlemen! What kind of fares you lookin' for today?
CM: We're not goin' anywhere, old man. We like it here just fine.
NC: Almost a nice as my usual hangout, except without indoor plumbin'.
BO: Yeah, really comfy digs here. You hirin', shorty?
BS: (annoyed) Real funny, you clowns. Don't you know who I am?
NC: I dunno, I give up. Governor Sununu? John Lynch? :p
BO: No, dummy. it's that jockey guy … Willie Shoemaker, right? :D
BS: Ha ha, very funny. Listen up, no one rides for free here, sorry.
CM: I said if before, old man. We're not goin' anywhere. We got business right here.
BS: No you don't - I'm in charge here! :mad: Basic fare is $10 apiece to the end of the line.

The station master tried to force three paper tickets into the leader's hands. The leader tore them up slowly, then cast them to the breeze created by the ceiling fan that rotated slowly above the men …

CM: We're not buyin' nothin', Willie. Now go shuffle your papers up real nice, OK?
BS: (really annoyed) You don't know who you're messin' with. Keep this up, and I'm gonna hafta …
CM: We're shaking in our shoes. :rolleyes: Listen up, little big man, take a chill pill …

With that, the leader motioned to his cohorts, one of whom leaned over to grab the depot master by the collar, while the other swung open the door to the depot's utility closet, where the small old administrator was unceremoniously hurled into a state of temporary captivity. With the de facto hijacking of the depot completed, Wild E. Cat skated off in terror along the frozen brook nearby to seek safety from this newfound looming menace with her beau Gnarlz, who had led a sheltered existence to this point (no worries, readers - this will NOT become the "When Wild E. Cat Met Gnarlz Story" ;) ) in the snowbanks of nearby Greenland.

The men fanned out across the station's platform, as they waited for the arrival of an eastbound train and its expected cargo. Fuel for their three parked snowmobiles was purloined from the depot's own supply tanks. When the depot's FAX(*2) machine started to whirr noisily and spit out paper, the leader wandered over to it and quickly ripped its lines out of the wall, silencing the only means of communication to the outside world (and further annoying the imprisoned administrator). Now that things had been secured, all that was left to the men was to wait for the arrival of the eastbound train, and the mysterious cargo they'd been sent to meet …



Footnote *1 - a chalkboard was once used for adaptable communication, but now replaced by whiteboards
Footnote *2 - a FAX machine was once a cutting edge communication tool, but is now largely obsolete

08-24-2019, 04:37 PM
".....along the frozen brook nearby....."

In the pre-Snively Arena days of outdoor Batchelder Rink?

08-27-2019, 08:52 PM

Quick tease for tomorrow's installment :)

What? Nobody showing up?

Chuck Murray
08-28-2019, 09:08 AM
Chapter One (Conclusion) - Return Of The Prodigal

As the men fanned out across the station's platform, waiting the arrival of the eastbound train, each found their own unique way to pass the time. Of course, these were the days before the glorification of so-called "superpowers", but make no mistake, each man had his strengths, and those were quite evident in the way they killed time on this chilly afternoon. The man who took his position on the far left of the platform was making frequent and adept use of his new-fangled flip-phone (*3), contacting a wide array of political operatives while planning his full-time boss' activities and future campaign agenda. The man at the other end of the platform wandered under the station's water tower, looming over him with "Titletown" scrawled in dark blue graffiti on the otherwise friendly face of an indigenous breed of wildcat. This man was a master of sarcasm and retorts, and the graffiti on the tower's face annoyed him to no end, knowing it was likely the work of intoxicated visiting fans of some far-away program, so he spent his time plotting revenge on how to even things up with the perpetrators - real or imagined. In the middle, the leader was trying to catch up on his sleep, all the while imagining the next of his overly long, tedious and coma-inducing narratives to be presented on some unsuspecting message board, or other unsuspecting victims who might be nearby.

Each were doing what they felt they were best at, and each was trying to stay ready for the job they'd been hired to perform, when the shrill sound of an approaching train whistle in the distance pierced the tranquility. The caribou skinned stooges rose and took to their assigned positions across the platform, as the eastbound train slowly came to a stop along the platform. The men watched intently for the emergence of their target, but the only sign of life that briefly grabbed their attention was when the day's batch of Glob newspapers (*4) thudded against the platform, after being offloaded by an anonymous laborer in one of the train's boxcars. The man under the tower drew his firearm quickly and shot a hole clear through the middle of the batch of papers, before realizing it was a false alarm. His cohorts chuckled briefly at their friend's premature actions, leading to several jibes that are simply not fit to print here. If nothing else, the incident chilled the men's tensions.

After the engine had taken on enough water from the water tower to continue its journey, the train slowly began to pull away from the station to its further eastbound destinations. The leader beckoned the other two men to the center of the platform, as it became clear to them that they'd been stood up by their expected visitor, and they readied to leave to depart via snowmobile. But just as it seemed the situation had passed without incident, the men heard a strange sound from the westbound platform …


The men stopped dead in their tracks in the center of the eastbound platform, and turned to see the emergence of a man with a kazoo pursed to his lips, creating an ominous sounding dirge that signaled nothing but bad intent. The man was carrying a dust-covered hockey gear bag in his right hand, and the kazoo in his left hand. The welcoming party immediately understood this was the cargo they'd been waiting on. They shifted nervously forward to engage the stranger, as he slowly completed his musical interlude, and then tersely addressed his newfound friends …

JY: Is Jack heah?
CM: Jack sent us.
NC: What's the matter, Kazoo? We not good enough for you??
JY: (looking past the men) You bwing a snowmobio for me then?
BO: (chuckling) Nope … looks like we're shy one snowmobile. :D

The last comment brought lots of guffaws from the locals, until the stranger cut them short ...

JY: (shaking his head) No, you bwought two too many … too two many? … whatevah ...

The cocky grins of the welcoming party immediately disappeared, as they quickly grasped the brutal implications of the math just dropped on them by this strange-talking stranger from the west. They each made a move for their firearms, but unknown to them, the stranger had the drop on them, as his six-shooter was already in his right hand as he abruptly dropped the gear bag, and he beat them all to the shot, laying waste to them with a single shot apiece to off each of his ill-fated hosts. But the sarcastic bugger on the right managed to get a shot off as he was felled, and his shot knocked the stranger on the westbound platform off his feet as it struck him in the left shoulder.

Minutes passed as the carnage on the platforms laid still and motionless … until finally, the stranger rose slowly, and scanned the platform to take inventory. There were no similar signs of life on the opposite side of the tracks, so the stranger slowly rose and fashioned a makeshift sling to nurse the shoulder wound. He quickly dusted off his gear bag, revealing faded maroon and gold coloring, tucked his gun back into the top of the bag, and shuffled off to the eastbound platform to continue his long journey back to his old stomping grounds. There were many more scores out there waiting to be settled.


Footnote *3 - a flip-phone was an earlier mode of cellular communication, until replaced by smartphones
Footnote *4 - a primitive means of spreading daily news to distant locations, now largely obsolete

Chuck Murray
09-01-2019, 06:02 PM

Chuck Murray
09-03-2019, 10:29 AM
Chapter Two - Once Upon a Time in Icewater … Somewhere North of White River Junction

Mark McBain had always done things his way ... and his way had always been a little different. Born, raised, and groomed as a young professional in the shadows of the biggest college hockey boomtowns in New England, McBain had enjoyed success in the early stages of his hockey life. But while his dreams remained big, his desire to perform in the limelight had waned, and his time spent in the wilds of northern New England as a student-athlete called him back to a setting similar to where he'd initially thrived. There, he'd again made his mark like few others had, all the while enjoying success and relaxing in a simpler lifestyle that he'd yearned for since graduating a generation earlier. It got better when he began to re-connect with some of his past colleagues who'd stayed behind to fight amidst the rat race at the highest levels, and peaked when rekindling his relationship with his one true love from the old days in the big city. He'd come into an estate on the wise advice of locals who could not offer McBain the same money he'd made at his former post, but offered him property that held some potential for future development, but all the while, McBain loved the quiet, the privacy, and the desolation his remote outpost offered him in the meantime.

It was early Spring again, and in addition to his new chores in his new kingdom, the opportunity to reconnect with and mentor those who'd stayed behind was something that appealed to McBain, who'd seen his long-ago stomping grounds evolve into a two tiered system of the "haves" and the "have nots". Their end-of-season festivities pretty much centered around the "haves", so McBain sent invites down to the group of "have nots" to instead share some time up at his ranch, and to brainstorm with his old pals on some of the winning lessons he'd learned after his mid-life crisis had led him to the Green Mountain State. He'd spend a day with the old crew reminiscing and enjoying some festivities of their own, knowing full well that the leading lights' festivities elsewhere down south were not likely going to include them in any meaningful way anyhow. And to cap it off, he'd be bringing up his old flame on the last day of the weekend to introduce her to his pals, and make an important announcement. It was all that McBain had ever hoped for … he'd been able to have his cake, and soon he'd be able to eat it, too.

McBain had enlisted his old college pal Richie to transport his guests by bobsled from White River Junction to his estate in Icewater. One by one, Richie would meet with the circle of colleagues he shared with McBain at the depot just over the state line, and take them through the valleys and gorges on unpaved roads to the remote location of their meeting that weekend. Richie's first delivery was a close pal of his who was now working in North Andover, while the second was a diminutive coach working further upstream in the Merrimack River Valley in Lowell. A third was waiting not long after, having trekked up due north through the Connecticut River Valley from Amherst, while the fourth and final guest was a big redhead now working in the big city, but who'd also risen from a setting that he had in common with McBain and Richie.

With the men finally gathered together, McBain discharged Richie back to the big city, where he'd participate as an invited guest at the alternate festivities hosted by the "haves". Richie always felt like an outsider at those events, but at his pal McBain's request, his dual purpose would also be to return later in the weekend with McBain's "guest of honor", for the piece de resistance of the events up in Icewater. There was much merriment to be had that evening, and much to eat, drink, and catch up on with his guests, as McBain waved goodbye to Richie as his bobsled turned south once again.

Outside, McBain had arranged for some temporary lighting to illuminate the long frozen pond nearby, where the he and his pals would enjoy some old school shinny-style pond hockey that evening, and then again the next morning before they would get into their more serious intentions. And ultimately, make no mistake … McBain's aim was to level the playing field in Hockey East, and bring the "haves" down a notch or two, while building up some of the "have nots" to a more competitive level. It was ambitious, no doubt, and it would not be an easy task. It would also mean stepping on some toes … toes that didn't want to be stepped on, to say the least. But as the full moon rose highest as their evening's game ended, and the guests all retired for a night's rest in their generous host's remote quarters, McBain knew this course of action would not be popular with those at the top of the league. But since those folks were busy with their own celebrations down by the Charles River, there's no way they'd care about the guys who didn't bother to show up … or at least that was McBain's hope as his head hit the pillow. Tomorrow would be a busy day ...


Chuck Murray
09-08-2019, 01:22 PM
Chapter Two - Enter The Incumbent (conclusion)

The following morning, a red sunrise on the eastern horizon greeted the guests at the McBain estate, a signal of some incoming stormy weather in the coming hours. Mark had tuned in the local TV (*5) affiliate to catch the weather forecast for the day, and it became obvious to him that due to the unexpected turn in the end-of-winter conditions in northern New England, it was unlikely that his old pal Richie would be back later that day as planned, and would likely be delayed until the following day. No problem, thought the coach ... lots of friends, lots of beer, lots of ice and lots of light all added up to more time to chill out and have fun in the midst of his more serious intentions. And after a hearty breakfast for all, and a shortened professional agenda, which McBain cut in half to allow the men to finish up the following day on their now-extended three day weekend, it was not long before these hockey lifers were back out on the frozen pond. With the blowing and drifting snow a mere impediment, the setting sun rendered moot by the temporary lighting, hours went by as the beer and the merriment was free-flowing.

Then, out of nowhere, the wind stopped, and shortly after that, the lighting began to flicker.

CS: What's up with that? Mark, you got an electrical short going on or somethin'?
JM: Jeezus … glad youze guys noticed that too. I thought it was just me being hammered. ;)

The lighting came back on shortly after, and the wind (and the merriment and banter) continued …

MM: I didn't think Fathah Monan let youze guys drink on the job over there, Jimmy? :D
JM: :D That's why I'm not over there any more, Mark, you dummy. I'm in Amherst now (laughter).
BC: Yeah, Jimmy … your old place is a $#!&show nowadays. I mean … Milbury? Really?? :rolleyes:
MM: Sorry, I forgot that, Jimmy. Hey Bryce, youze guys have a shot at the Beanpot Finals now, eh?
BC: Yeah … that Cleary guy is running out of road - finally - but you know Jack … he owns that gig.
CS: (looking at empty beer cans, and an empty keg). :mad: We're out, dammit. You got more, Mark?
MM: (pointing to the nearby barn). No worries, Clint. Hey Blake - where you hiding? :confused:
BM: (tugging at McBain's knee) Right here boss. Been here all along.
MM: Oh yeah. Will you stand up, ferchrissakes? :mad:
BM: :o But I AM standing up, boss.
MM: Yeah, whatever. Be a nice kid and get us more beer from the barn, OK?

As Blake skated off the surface towards the barn, the shinny resumed, and spirits were again high, when the lighting again shorted out, and this time it was pitch black out - with the stars and moon covered by the ongoing weather event. When the lights unexpectedly came back up on their own a minute or so later, at the far end of the pond appeared a group of 4 skaters, clad in waist length hooded caribou skin parkas, carrying sticks and wearing caged helmets. One man was the elder of this group, and he skated forward to explain the purpose of their sudden and uninvited presence that evening …

TC: Hey you, McBain. We hear youze guys are looking for some competition out there. You up for it?
MM: Youze guys seem a little overdressed for the occasion. What business do you have with us? :confused:

McBain sized up the group with this familiar-sounding stranger, but could make neither heads nor tails of their identity. But as he scanned the evening's surprise "opposition", the lighting again began to flicker. Suddenly, McBain and his men were pelted with flying water bottles apparently coming out of nowhere from behind the snow drifts, and the younger men on the visiting squad swept in and began to carve up McBain and his colleagues with some expert stickwork that would have made Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken proud. One of the men - apparently going by the name of Freddy - was perhaps the most expert of the men overall on the stickwork front, but his pals Tommi (who sported an unusually sharp-curved stick) and Brendan (who wielded his stick like a pirate's cutlass) proved efficient at their assignments as well, and within less than a minute, the interlopers had laid waste to Mark and three of his colleagues out on the frozen pond, leaving them for dead on the blood-drenched ice surface.

At that point, hearing the commotion, Blake finally emerged from the barn, trying to roll the replacement keg back out for his now-deceased colleagues, as the four interlopers were joined by their until-now hidden leader, emerging from behind the snow drifts towards the barn, as they all ogled what appeared to be a mysteriously self-propelled keg rolling slowly in their direction. When the keg stopped rolling, Blake stepped to one side of it, and gazed in horror at the carnage left strewn on the pond.

The interlopers were initially stunned, but ominously approached the diminutive coach, with the players still wearing the caged helmets, and the two older men wearing bandanas to cover their face to prevent recognition beyond the confines of their group. Yet, the diminutive Blake still felt the two elders were familiar for some reason … but then as they spoke amongst themselves, their identities would become frighteningly clear …

TC: So Jack … what do we do with this one?

The bottle-throwing elder shot a dismissive sideward glance at the remark, and spit out his reply …

JP: :rolleyes: Well, now that you've called me by name …

The second elder reached into his parka and pulled out his own firearm, and pointed it towards the (until-then) sole survivor, grinned a heartless and soulless grin … and looking into his former colleague Blake's frightened and fully-realizing eyes, pulled the trigger. After re-holstering his firearm, he spat back at his colleagues as he sparked up a small cigar …

JP: Mission accomplished. (turning to his older colleague, and smacking him forcefully on the back of his head) Tweet, when in doubt in the future, shut the f$@& up, willya? :mad: Congrats, you're now in charge in Amherst. I'll see the rest of youze guys Monday at practice.

With that, The Incumbent disconnected the lights one final time, and the group rode off to the East …


Footnote *5 - in the pre-Internet days, TV was a popular means of gathering new information