Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hockey, art & the flu

NHL 1917 - 2005

Coincidental to the NHL cancelling the 2004-2005 season, I was reading David Markson's This is Not a Novel yesterday. This is the 2nd book of Markson's trilogy of plotless novels, which attempts to capture his protagonist (called "Writer") in the midst of the creative process. Each book is a collection of facts, interesting minutiae and little-known but fascinating tidbits - frequently about art, writing, death, suicide and anti-Semitism. I've already read the first book, Reader's Block, and plan on getting to the final installment, Vanishing Point, shortly.

Yesterday's cancellation guarantees that there will be no Stanley Cup champion this season. The only other time the Cup has gone unawarded, since its 1893 introduction as the most identifiable trophy in pro sports, was back in 1919. A major epidemic of the Spanish Flu (or La Grippe, as it was known in the Great White North) was wreaking havoc across the world.

The Stanley Cup finals, being played between the Seattle Metropolitans and the Montreal Canadiens, were knotted at two games apiece (plus a scoreless overtime tie). When the flu-decimated Canadiens were unable to put a full compliment of players on the ice, the series was cancelled. Four days later, Montreal defenseman Bad Joe Hall - one of the league's roughest players - died of pneumonia.

The coincidence part comes in the form of a factoid Markson drops on page 61 of This is Not a Novel: "The worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 killed forty million people. Including Apollinaire. And Egon Schiele."

And Bad Joe Hall.

(Left to right: Apollinaire, Schiele, Hall)

Granted, the hipcheck isn't usually held in the same regard as poetry and painting, but there is an art to it.


Blogger Weldon Gardner Hunter said...

Hockey is back! And soon, the Victoria Cougars will take the Cup again after 80 years!!

3:49 AM  

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