Is there anything scarier than an old-school goalie mask? Horror buffs will agree, Clint Benedict, Jacques Plante, Gerry Cheevers and Gary Bromley sported scream-inducing masks, but these netminders weren’t the spookiest legends to creep out the opposition. From ghost pucks to haunted arenas, these eerie stories torment players and fans alike.
#HockeyHalloween Moment #1: Quick’s Supernatural Save
Either Kings goaltender, Jonathan Quick, has telekinetic powers, or a long-gone goalie is protecting his crease. Sure, pucks change direction all the time. Check out Erik Cole’s ghostly goal from February 2015. Still, a puck on edge is nothing compared to the sharp angle this puck traveled at the Staples Center. Sure, it may have caught a pile of snow, but for the sake of All Hallows’ Eve, let’s believe.
#HockeyHalloween Moment #2: Gratton’s Past Lives
Goalies are known for unusual habits and superstitions, but Gilles Gratton took it to the next level. Recognized for his roaring tiger mask, Gratton spoke often of his reincarnation. The former Blueshirt recalled stories of his life as a Spanish Count, stoning his subjects, and doomed to his fate as a goalie.
“Well, I’ve got something to tell you,” Gratton began to explain. “In my last life I was a Spanish Count and one of the things I loved to do when I was a count in Spain was take all the commoners, line them up against a wall and throw rocks at them.” – Gilles Gratton via Greatest Hockey Legends
Even stranger was Gratton’s piano proficiency, despite never taking a lesson, and his habit of growling at opposing players. “Grattoony the Loony” was last believed to live in an abandoned castle in Europe following his retirement from hockey at the ripe age of 24.
#HockeyHalloween Moment #3: Visiting the Creepy, Crawly Boston Garden
Built in 1928, Boston Garden presented obstructed views of the ice (the horror!), and was home to large rats in both the locker rooms and the stands. Some reports claim the rats were as big as cats, thriving in the basement before scavenging trash left in the arena each night. Rumor has it that players in visiting locker rooms would find the occasional rat in a skate pre-game.
There is the battalion of rats that roams freely when the building is quiet, snacking on the detritus of another night’s entertainment. When pressed, the rats improvise, as happened during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals, when an electrical cable was munched in half and the building was blacked out. – Bob Ford, Inquirer Staff Writer
In an aging arena that makes thousands of concessions sales each night, rats are creepy, but no surprise. The true legend of Boston Garden instead lies with a single primate.
During the Boston Garden’s demolition following its closure in 1995, crews happened upon the remains of a monkey in the rafters. Known for hanging moss and decades of smoke coating their surface, the rafters were filthy, but no one expected to find a leftover circus animal in 1998.
According to a Boston.com report, the monkey’s origins are still a mystery. When questioned, Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey had not lost a monkey in Boston Garden since 1937. This particular, recently deceased monkey, however, supports fans’ rumors that both ghosts and leprechauns haunted the arena.
#HockeyHalloween Moment #4: The Ghost of Nationwide Arena
Built on a former prison ground, Columbus’ Nationwide Arena is another NHL rink with a haunting reputation. Having once been home to the Ohio Penitentiary, the Nationwide Arena grounds have a harrowing history.
In 1930, a fire broke out in the prison, killing at least 300 prisoners who burned in their cells. The fire itself was a botched escape attempt planned by three prisoners who hoped to set the kerosene fire during dinner when other prisoners were free in the dining hall.
This event was the deadliest prison fire in U.S. history, leaving the prison empty for 20 years before its demolition. Today, arena workers report hearing blood curdling screams, shuffling, and rattling chains throughout the building.
#HockeyHalloween Moment #5: Dorothy, Ghost of the Hockey Hall of Fame
Of all the spooky stories haunting the NHL, “Dorothy’s” legend is the most disconcerting. Before the Hockey Hall of Fame took over its historic home in the heart of Toronto, the building housed the Bank of Montreal for nearly a century. During that time, a young teller known simply as “Dorothy” attended work as usual before shooting herself at the bank for reasons unknown.
For decades, visitors to the Hockey Hall of Fame reported cold spots in the vault area where the young woman died. Doors and windows reportedly open mysteriously, sometimes locking, with a general uneasiness in some parts of the building. Hall of Fame employees reported furniture shifting before their eyes, flickering lights, as well as phantom footsteps, or hands grasping their arms and legs.
Despite all the reports, only one other person is believed to have actually seen the spirit. One summer a young boy was visiting the Hall of Fame when he started screaming, “Don’t you see her, don’t you see her,” says Jane Rodney, who was the Hall’s coordinator of resource centre services at the time. “He claimed a woman with long black hair was going in and out of the walls.” – Paul McLaughlin, Toronto Star
In 2009, the Toronto Star reported that the unknown teller was Dorothea Mae Elliott, a 19 year-old woman who died on March 11, 1953. The new legend of Elliott’s death now tells the story of a woman frustrated with her boyfriend leaving “to take a job on the boats.” Meanwhile, other accounts insist she had an affair with a married bank employee.
When she arrived at work early, Elliott allegedly took a revolver to the women’s bathroom to end her life out of either depression or desperation. Elliott died 22 hours later at St. Michael’s Hospital. Known for her bubbly personality, Elliott’s death was a shock to her coworkers, many of whom spoke in interviews, later confirming facts about Elliott’s life and death.
#HockeyHalloween a Reminder of NHL’s Ghostly Legends
These legends of ghost pucks, reincarnated goaltenders, vermin, haunted arenas and paranormal encounters lend NHL fans plenty of tall tales to tell over the flashlight for #HockeyHalloween. While both tragic and strange, each scary story describes a sport rich with oddities. As a fan base who loves to get weird, however, hockey fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
This #hockeyhalloween article was originally written in October, 2015.
Tabatha is passionate about hockey history, and the Dallas Stars’ ever-improving farm system. Growing the game in North Texas is her goal.
Discuss hot topics in hockey with her on Twitter via @tabatha_mp.