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History ‘n’ Hockey: When the gales of November came early

On this day in 1975, the ore ship Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a gale into the waters of Lake Superior

On this day in Canadian history, in 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. The freighter, loaded with over 26,000 tons of iron ore, was bound for a steelyard in Detroit when it encountered severe weather conditions. 

Battered by hurricane-force winds and waves nearly forty feet high, the storm forced the ship to head towards safe harbour in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, but it never arrived. The 222-metre long freighter sank, claiming the lives of all 29 crew members aboard. 

Los Angeles Kings at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.

2016-17 Records: LAK 7-6-0 (4th in the Pacific); MTL 11-1-1 (1st in the Atlantic)
Leading Scorers: Jeff Carter (5G, 4A); Alex Galchenyuk (5G, 8A)  

The last time Montreal beat Los Angeles at the Bell Centre, December 17, 2014, they trounced them 6-2. During that contest, 13 different Canadiens players got on the score sheet. But the most interesting part about that storyline is that of that baker’s dozen, only five are still with the organization. Most notable among those departures is, of course, P.K. Subban, who scored three points that game, but let’s not go down that road again just yet. 

Prediction: Canadiens by 1

Vancouver Canucks at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

2016-17 Records: VAN 5-8-1 (5th in the Pacific); DET 7-6-1 (4th in the Atlantic)  
Leading Scorers: Henrik Sedin (5G, 3A); Mike Green (3G, 7A)

Tonight will be Vancouver’s final game at Joe Louis Arena. There’s a lot of history in that building, but none of it has been particularly good for the Canucks, at least in recent memory. The team hasn’t fared particularly well on their trips to the Motor City, dropping three of their last four visits. Moreover, they haven’t beaten the Red Wings in Detroit in regulation since March 23, 2011. At that time, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Prediction: Red Wings by 1

Winnipeg Jets at Arizona Coyotes, 9 p.m.

2016-17 Records: WPG 6-7-1 (4th in the Central); ARI 5-7-0 (7th in the Pacific)
Leading Scorers: Mark Scheifele (9G, 9A); Max Domi (1G, 9A)

Raise your hand if you said Brad Richardson would be among the Coyotes scoring leaders after ten games. Now put it down because you’re lying. The 31-year old Belleville native has 4G, 4A and is currently on pace for 54 points, which would be thirteen more than his career high. Add in the fact that he’s riding an unsustainable shooting percentage (17.4%) and there’s no reason to think that his time atop the Coyotes scoring list will last. But for now, everything’s coming up Milhouse for Richardson, so if you have him on your fantasy team, ride the wave, it won’t last forever. 

Prediction: Jets by 1

Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m.

2016-17 Records: DAL 4-6-3 (6th in the Central); CGY 5-8-1 (6th in the Pacific)
Leading Scorers: Tyler Seguin (7G, 7A); Michael Frolik (5G, 4A) 

The Stars are sinking. And that isn’t even a reference to the 2-8 thrashing they sustained at the hands of the Jets earlier this week. After struggling out the gate, the team has yet to rack up back-to-back wins. Making matters worse is that Dallas is dealing with a tempest of injuries. After losing Cody Eakin and Ales Hemsky to significant injuries in October, they’ve recently placed Jiri Hudler on injured reserve and are still without Patrick Sharp who is recovering from a concussion. And now with news that Jason Spezza is day-to-day with a lower body injury, the Stars will have to make some significant adjustments if they hope to weather the storm and stay above water in the Central Division. 

Prediction: Flames by 1

Last Minute of Play

My final words on the Edmund Fitzgerald will ultimately ring hollow, so I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad that captures the marine tragedy as only he can. 

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'gitche gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early…”

Be sure to circle back in two weeks as we re-examine the Suez Crisis of 1956. 

Prediction Record: 2-3

Mike Commito is a Canadian historian. Follow him on Twitter @mikecommito.


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