Daniel Mahoney: The Most Wonderful Times: Memories of New York Rangers Alumni
About the Book:
This book contains ten interviews the author conducted with New York Rangers Alumni in the mid-1980s. Always interested in the history of the Rangers, the author actively sought out some of the original Rangers from the 1926-27 team to get their memories of playing during the early days of the NHL and New York hockey.
In most cases, the interviews were conducted over the telephone for purposes of writing articles for the Rangers Alumni Newsletter. In addition to original Rangers, the author spoke with a few others from Rangers history he felt deserved attention and to have their stories told.
Alumni interviewed include:
Ken McAuley (goalie in Rangers 15-0 loss to Detroit)
Inspiration for the collection came when the author came across an old folder with transcripts of the interviews he conducted. These interviews, including audio tapes, were donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the mid-1990s for historical purposes. When the author noticed some of the interviews being used in Hockey Hall of Fame website articles, he decided to present these in book form so that more scholars could enjoy them and use quotes, at will, in their own projects.
The actual interviews are presented in transcript form, so that the reader can, hopefully, feel that they are listening in on the conversations. Short overviews of the players are given before each interview to provide background information for non-hockey historians.
Photos of Bill Cook receiving his Rangers Alumni award are included, as well as copies of letters the author received from Bill Beveridge and Chuck Rayner.
An additional purpose behind the collection was to ensure that these players are not forgotten by Rangers fans – by reading their actual words, it is hoped that they become more than footnotes and statistics for the reader. By publishing them via Amazon, it is hoped that the book can always be printed on-demand – for future generations.
The Fred Shero interview, specifically, is included to show a different side of the man to what is usually presented in print. Without going into all the stories that were written about him after his time as Rangers coach, this interview, it is hoped, presents a view of an intelligent well-spoken man who, above all, loved the game of hockey.
The opening of the book details how the author was able to gain access to the players and cover the New York Rangers team from 1983-1988. Anecdotes of his interaction with players from that day are included, with stories of Herb Brooks, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Williams and, surprisingly, Walter Cronkite.
These are included to show that sometimes cherished memories can happen just by answering a short ad at the back of a magazine.
The book is available on all Amazon sites for print on-demand. It is a small book, approximately 130 pages. Various countries allow the reader to view sections of the book before purchasing.
Link for book:
I was covering the New Jersey Devils game on December 20, 1983 when the Montreal Canadiens came to town. It was a memorable game for two career milestones.
Steve Shutt scored his 400th career goal that night but nobody wanted to talk to him after the game because Guy LaFleur scored his 500th in the third period.
There was a huge crowd of reporters surrounding LaFleur, all peppering him with questions in both French and English. LaFleur took his time, politely answering all of them, in French or English, depending on the reporter’s language.
Larry Robinson (Montreal’s Hall of Fame defenseman) kept circling around, telling Guy the team had a plane to catch at Newark airport that they did not want to miss. This went on for about five minutes.
Finally, one English reporter asked Guy “Do any of the 500 goals stand out?” When Guy started to answer “Well, I remember the first one” Larry Robinson shouted out “Oh, shit. He’s going to describe them all!”
Example interview responses:
The players’ words in the book are presented in bold and italicized for easy reading.
Bill Cook Excerpt:
The following interview was conducted July 5, 1984 via telephone.
Well, it all started on the old homestead in the west. That was after I came back from overseas and Russia. I started to play hockey first in the Soo, Canada (Sault Ste. Marie) for two years and then I went out to play in Saskatoon under Newsy Lalonde.
Then I got word from Conn Smythe to meet him in Winnipeg. I went down to Winnipeg and they gave me a contract which I didn’t take at the time, but which was much better than what I was getting in Saskatoon. But it wasn’t as much as I thought should have come, in regards to New York hockey. So, we stood off, and he said he’d give me two or three or four days until he got in touch. So, he did, and I got what I asked for. It wasn’t a terrible lot in comparison to what they’re getting today, but a little better than what I was already getting.
So, then he inquired about other players. He was interested in Bunny (Cook). Then I told him about Ching Johnson. I had played against Johnson when I was with the Soo team in Canada. He had played with Eveleth (Minnesota), and was a helluva good player.
Bun Cook Excerpt:
The following interview was conducted July 3, 1984 via telephone.
Ching (Johnson) had a firm jaw on him; he’d always be playing with a smile. He was a very firm stick player. When he handed out a body check, you really were shook up.
When they ran into Taffy (Abel), they bounced off of him like a rubber ball. They were colorful.
Of course, Tex Rickard was the manager of the Garden. He was a great fight promoter. He wanted lots of color and he got it in Ching and Taffy.
Lester went along with it too because he was quite a promoter from his western days. He certainly had lots of publicity, but he was a hard worker. He was a tough guy. I talked with him when I was with the Soo Greyhounds. He was quite interesting then. Hockey was in his blood. He was a great man for hockey.
It wasn’t like hockey today; we had lots of idle time. We had to practice up in the garden rink (the old Madison Square Garden had an additional skating rink on its top floor); it was a skating rink for figure skating. We travelled by coach, so there was a lot of time to get acquainted and we were together, about seven or eight of us, for eight or nine years. There weren’t too many changes. We were successful because we had played as a line for about eight years straight. About the ninth year we were broken up.
Fred Shero Excerpt:
The following interview was conducted April 1, 1984 in The New Jersey Devils press room. I had asked Fred about the Flyers’ goon reputation.
I’ve said this before, and I mean it honestly, if you can find one player I’ve ever coached who can claim I ever asked him to fight, I’ll give you a million dollars. That stands! I’d say at the start of every season, “If I ever ask you to fight, I want you to break that stick over my head!”
I believe you coach with the material you have. You say, “Why did you fight?” We had to because that’s all we had. We weren’t the toughest team in hockey – Boston was the toughest team in hockey, but they had the talent and that’s why they didn’t have to fight as much.
And a super team was the Canadiens in those days, but how are you going to fight with them? They had the biggest team in hockey. They had Larry Robinson, they had Serge Savard, Guy LaPointe, all between 215 and 220 pounds. We couldn’t outmuscle them, but we had the muscle to win our games, to stay in the race.
I coached a lot of teams that you might say were sort of chicken, but I still won with them because they were talented. In other words, you coach according to the material you have, and you’ve got to be blessed with people who are abrasive by nature.
About the Author:
Daniel Mahoney is a retired ex-banker who has been a New York Rangers fan since 1965. While working for the bank, he also moonlighted for five years in the mid-1980s, helping to cover the Rangers for the Hockey News.
An avid collector of memorabilia from all periods of Rangers history, the author prides himself on being able to converse at ease with their alumni – often remembering details of their careers they have forgotten. He has been a season ticket holder for over twenty years.