Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was many things during his hockey career: a Stanley Cup Champion, a Philadelphia Flyers legend and a member of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970s. No one would ever mistake him for the King of Pop or the Thin White Duke. Nevertheless, in 1975, Schultz released a 7-inch double-sided record called, appropriately enough, “The Penalty Box.”
Much like a classic defenseman sticking to his own zone, Schultz may have sung the lyrics, but he did not write the lyrics nor pen the music. The rhyme schemes were written by Kal Mann. His handiwork spanned decades of music, from Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again” and the Elvis classic “Teddy Bear.”
The music was composed by Vince Montana, considered the Godfather of Disco. He helped establish Sigma Sound Studios and arranged music for The Spinners, Delfonics and the O’Jays, among others.
The song itself opens with an arena announcer, lifted directly from an actual game, letting the crowd know about Shultz’s latest infractions on the ice before segueing into an old-time piano riff and the jolly, upbeat sounds of Shultz’s own vocals. The legendary defenseman doesn’t quite sing the entire song, drifting from some genuine attempts at harmony before relenting to essentially only speaking some of the track’s lyrics, like the classic refrain “Baby How Long Will You Keep Me in the Penalty Box?” He does, however, keep up with the beat and clearly is having about as much fun as hockey player can have without lifting up the Stanley Cup.
Shultz himself remembers the song well and is more than in on the joke “They already probably thought I was goofy anyway. Some guys came to me, they knew a guy named Kal Mann – who wrote many, many great songs. Somehow these people knew him and they got him to write the song. I couldn’t sing. It was more of a joke than anything I suppose. Of course, they played it a lot in ’75 when we beat Buffalo in the Finals.”
“Penalty Box” proves that much like playing hockey itself, it’s not always about skill, but your willingness to get out on the ice, that matters most. Now if only we can get that much sought-after sequel “Double Major.” ■
Kyle Scully is a lifelong Sharks fan whose secret dream is to attend the Sloan Analytics Conference. Loves Zebra from Popcornopolis but only eats it at hockey games.