Earlier today a link was tweeted by Ellen Etchingham, our resident hockey history teacher. The video was the 1939 hockey video “HOT ICE” that you can see below. I’m not someone who often watches hockey clips from eras at-or-near the beginning of the second World War, but today I decided to give it a go.

And, wouldn’t you know it, it was hilarious.

For that reason, I’ve decided to point out my favourite parts in hopes that A) you’ll find them funny too, or that B) you can explain to me what the hell is going on.

So with out any more ado, the video, then my observations.

* Once you get through our lovely Old Timey announcer setting the stage with perfectly enunciated phrases like “Who is going to win? Everyone wants to know!” we get to this curious phrase at the :46 second mark: “These serious young fellows who play for a living, who are catered to by experts…” I mean, that has to be the world’s vaguest commentary of all time, right? Just, “experts?” …Coaches? Psychologists? What did they have in the ’30s that I don’t know about?

* How did men of this era part their hair so ferociously? There was like, a half-inch divide between the two sides. It looks like Moses just stood in front of the goalie at the 1:15 mark and did his thing.

* “Skates go on last” (1:27). Back in the day they put on their upper gear before their wheels? I suppose their uppers weren’t as bulky as our stuff now, just seems like a bit of an efficiency issue.

* I love the depth of the planning in the “boys just being boys” clip. Ah, the old water-over-the-head trick! That guy fell for it again!

* The clip at 2:17 is amazing, that kid skates down snow flawlessly. He’s the pioneer of the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Quebec, and doesn’t even know it.

* Why is the kid at 2:30 trying to light his skates on fire? (But seriously, what’s he doing?)

* As a general statement, why don’t any humans still talk like this narrator? We’ve really gone downhill.

* That snowman hockey guy is terrifying.

* Speaking of us going downhill, I think the kid skating around at 3:30 has a shirt and tie on under his jacket. For reference, that’s what Canada wore at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. That guy probably wears a three-piece suit to bed.

* I love the coaches showing the players how to master fine skills like “cross-checking” (when saying it out loud, pause between “cross” and “checking”), and “high-sticking” (same).

* That gap between words that we now blend together seems like it would be time consuming. The “Defense Man” is my favourite.

* The drill at 3:52 would not be one most forwards would be pumped about. “So again, coach – we all line, up, and skate towards those two guys who are going to hit us, get sandwiched,  then we go back to the line? ….Yeah, okay, just wanted to be sure.” Hitting “in time!” Beautiful indeed.

* I admire the goalie’s broken give-a-fuck meter at the 4:12 mark

* Ellen says the game film was sped up to make the game look faster – I sure hope so. Those guys bombing around at 4:42 made me want to get leather skates.

* Since they don’t paint the ice you can see the concrete beneath it, so it’s basically like when teams hold “pink in the rink” nights for breast cancer, only grey. Also, there appear to be playing with like, three total lines on the ice.

* 6:01 – Did those two penalized players go to the same box? Things were a lot more civil then, I guess. Steve Ott would eat someone if this were still the case.

* Classic old-timey heckle from a fan at 6:30: “Come on, you!”

* So, the old game of hockey was just taking turns making rushes without passes? This video of a Leafs/Habs game from 1933 seems to confirm that. Zero hitting in that linked vid too.

* Old time clocks ruled.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to part my hair and talk old-fashioned-ese into a mirror. “Who will win? Everyone wants to know!”

Comments (20)

  1. I think the kid with the match is trying to burn off the loose ends of his lace because the aglet has likely worn off.

    • thats a great video, thanks for sharing. I loved the face-off at center ice, the centermen were standing along what would have been the red line. This is great.

    • I would have thought that too but it looked like he was holding it in the opening of the skate and the laces were dangling down lower. Maybe he was just using a very ineffective method to warm them up????

  2. Wheres the shoot out?

  3. Seriously though, I think it would be great if whoever owned all those old film from games put together some collection of great games or great players from the old days and released it some how. I love watching these old clips, but there has to be some footage of Gordie Howe or Maurice Richard that people can watch just to see how the game has changed and just for nostalgia I think it’d be interesting to watch.

    • Just check you tube under titles like “vintage hockey” or “Toronto Maple Leafs 1953″. Once in a while these kinds of generic searches turn up great finds.
      A personal favorite is searching the 1960 winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. Great old color film of outdoor rinks.

      Also check Hulu for full classic games… they have limited the offerings but still have full length games from the late 50′s early 60′s. These videos show how advanced the game has become even at the casual rec level. Watching these teams my initial thought was wow, they look really really slow. Just a very different game from what we’re handed by NBC every week now.

  4. How about that fan that gets hit in the head with a stick at the 6:39 mark?

    Also, when did the red line and goal line get added?

  5. I think the kid at 2:30 is trying to warm up his skates, or maybe to dry them out. One match at a time.

    He’s probably still at the pond as I write this.

  6. For all you French-speaking fans of vintage hockey movies out there, check out another National Film Board gem: Gilles Groulx’s 1964 classic “Un jeu si simple” (“Such a Simple Game”), featuring the late 50′s-early 60′s Hab dynasty.


    30 minutes of pure viewing pleasure – with René Lecavalier’s timeless Radio-Canada play-by-play description.

    • Thank you for pointing this video out! One of the best vintage hockey films I’ve seen yet. Seriously awesome. Merci

    • Thanks for that link! Looks like a really neat film with some great footage (sadly I’ll largely be relying on the visuals, as my French comprehension is unfortunately not very great).

    • My pleasure.

      Gilles Groulx was one of the pioneers of modern Quebec cinematography. His “cinéma direct” approach – in both his fiction movies and his documentaries -, which he shared with other luminaries such as Michel Brault and Pierre Perrault, was a major contribution to the art of filmmaking in the 60s.

      Call it Quebec’s response to the French Nouvelle Vague, if you will.

      Groulx seemed to have a soft spot for winter sports: his first documentary, “Les Raquetteurs”, featured a group of snowshoeing enthusiasts…

  7. There was only one penalty box until around the 50s, I believe. Players would go to the same sin bin, even after a fight.

  8. they should bring that music back. Just for like original six games. Feels nostalgic

  9. Being in 1939. Being that the announcer was probably not a hockey fan, but a pro announcer for the CBC; and given the years; they were about to start a War.
    It wasn’t that bad. Imagine what some 14 yr old, will say about viewing todays game on video, in 2091!!! Imagine them listening to Bob Cole!

  10. I am amused that for some reason the narrator refuses to say “Maple Leafs” when he’s doing play-by-play. He says either “Rangers” or “New Yorkers,” but only “Toronto” for the Leafs. It’s a small quirk, but kind of weird.

  11. My new favorite line: “In a battle of wits, you win with your head.”

    That’s some deep insight right there!

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