Interview: Hockey Documentary Filmmaker Dale Morrisey

Dale Morrisey shoots footage for his new film, “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans.”

Dale Morrisey is a filmmaker with a passion for hockey documentaries. His latest work, entitled “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans,” takes a long look at a long-forgotten NHL team. The Americans pre-date the “Original Six” Era and contributed more to the long-term success of the NHL than most would credit them for. At the same time, the Americans were a horrible team, struggling for years, first in New York City and then finally Brooklyn.

Morrisey, 45, was born in Oshawa and is, in his words, “a long-suffering Maple Leafs fan.” He previously wrote and directed documentaries “The Father of Hockey” (2014) and “Hockey’s Lost Boy” (2016). Recently, he spoke about his newest work, and why anyone should care about a team that’s been dead for over 75 years.

Sal Barry: Please explain the meaning behind your film’s title, “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans.”

Dale Morrisey: That’s from Thomas Wolfe’s short story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” which appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1935. The gist of the story is that it takes an entire lifetime to know Brooklyn, and even then, you wouldn’t know all of it. So, we played off of that, because the Brooklyn Americans area forgotten team, and only someone who was around back then would really know and understand who they were.

SB: The Americans have been gone for how long now?

DM: About 76 years.

SB: Why would anyone care to know about the Americans today?

DM: That’s a good question; I’ve been asked it a lot. Continue reading “Interview: Hockey Documentary Filmmaker Dale Morrisey”

Book Review: Ice Capades / Offside

The U.S. (left) and Canadian (right) covers of Sean Avery’s autobiography.

Before I begin this book review, it is necessary to disclose that I never liked Sean Avery during his NHL career. At the same time, I tried my best to have an open mind and be fair when reading his autobiography; what I think of the man should have no bearing on whether or not his book is entertaining or worth reading. 

Also, note that Avery’s book goes by two different titles. In the U.S., where he spent his entire NHL career, his book is called “Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey,” while in Canada it is called “Offside: My Life Crossing the Line.”  The covers vary slightly, but the book is otherwise the same.  However, the Canadian title seems more fitting, as Avery was one to push boundaries on and off the ice. 

“Ice Capades,” a.k.a. “Offside” — which I will herein refer to as “Avery’s book” — is co-authored by Micheal McKinley, who previously wrote “Hockey: A People’s History” and “Hockey Night in Canada: 60 Seasons.” Avery prefaces his memoir by stating that it is not his intention to change readers’ opinion of him. But reading his book might just soften your opinion on — as Avery calls himself — hockey’s most-famous third-line player. 

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Book Review: Gratoony the Loony

Gilles Gratton was one of pro hockey’s most colorful characters. He had a short, tumultuous career in the NHL and WHA in the 1970s, and is better known for his awesome goalie mask and strange behavior than for stopping pucks. He had enough talent to land six-figure contracts and play for Canada internationally. Sometimes, Gratton was said to be an even better goalie than Ken Dryden — when he felt like playing. But Gratton had almost no desire to play pro hockey. Now, almost 40 years after he retired from the game, Gratton decided to write a tell-all of his, ahem, interesting career. 

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Career in Cards: Eric Lindros

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Yesterday, Eric Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — and deservedly so. If you look at Lindros’ entire body of work — from his days as a phenom in junior hockey, to competition on the international stage, to his eight years in Philadelphia — he belongs in the Hall. Sure, his productivity sharply declined at the end of his career, but the same could be said of many other Hall of Fame players. Lindros wasn’t just awesome in his prime; he was awesome from day one. Here we will take a look at the career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards, of one of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2016 inductees.

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G.I. Joe-inspired file cards of NHL players

Like many kids growing up in the 1980s, I played with G.I. Joe action figures. Each figure had an interesting code name like Snake-Eyes, Shipwreck, Roadblock or Cobra Commander, had a ton of poseability  — including swivel-arm battle grip! — and came with some pretty cool weapons.

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The back of each G.I. Joe figure’s toy packaging had a file card. Flint here has a degree in English literature.

Another great thing about G.I. Joe action figures was that each one came with its own file card on the back of the toy packaging — a small profile about the character that you were supposed to cut out and save for future reference. Believe it or not, these file cards many times became a factor when deciding which figure to buy. As a nine-year old, standing in the toy aisle of K-Mart, with only enough scratch in my Ghostbusters wallet to get one figure, I had to make a tough choice each week. All the figures looked awesome, so the file cards told you what kind of character the toy was supposed to be, which made picking one easier.

So this got me thinking, what if NHL players had file cards that summed up what you needed to know about them? It would quickly get you up to speed if you haven’t been following their career, and help you decide if you were going to like them or not.

I imagine they’d look something like these.

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Career in Cards: Andy Bathgate

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Andy Bathgate, the Hall of Fame forward known best for his years with the New York Rangers, passed away on Friday at the age of 83. He spent 17 seasons in the NHL, scoring 973 points (349 G, 624 A) in 1.069 games. Bathgate was named to the NHL All-Star Team four times, won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and appeared in the annual NHL All-Star Game each year from 1957 to 1964. Here we take a look at Bathgate’s career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards.  Continue reading “Career in Cards: Andy Bathgate”

The Best Hockey Card of 2014-15

stlouis_fThis 2014-15 Upper Deck hockey card of Martin St. Louis does not have an autograph on it, nor does it have a piece of jersey embedded in it. And you know what? It doesn’t need any of those gimmicks to be the best hockey card of the season. All it needed was this amazing photograph that, coincidentally, was taken exactly one year ago today.

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1985-86 Topps Hockey Sell Sheet

1985-86 Topps Hockey Sell SheetThis 8.5″ x 11″ sell sheet was used to solicit the “Limited 165 picture card series” of 1985-86 Topps Hockey to retailers. Unlike the sell sheet used in 1981-82, this one uses four colors (black, blue, red and light blue) instead of just red and blue. It also gave a sneak peek at a new feature for Topps in ’85-86. Continue reading “1985-86 Topps Hockey Sell Sheet”