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From the Archives: There's Many a Slip, By Goalies!

Stan Fischler looks at the work of one of hockey's first and most famous cartoonists, Willard Mullin, who specialized in fantastic drawings of goaltenders.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Willard Mullin reigned as the foremost sports caricaturist in North America. Drawing for New York's World-Telegram newspaper, Mullin especially liked to pen hockey figures and especially goaltenders.

In this multi-paneled opus, Mullin featured the art of puck-stopping with his personal; favorite, Chuck (Bonnie Prince Charlie) Rayner of the Rangers. But before getting to his caricature of Rayner, Mullin kidded the Goaltenders' Union with three panels of fun stuff. The Tely feature appeared on Jan. 18, 1947 when Rayner still was keeping his club in playoff contention.

The panels and commentaries follow:

Starting in the upper left, Mullin's panels read as follows -- his "asides" are in brackets.

1. The Vezina Trophy is dished out each year to the man who risks tooth and nail to the best effect stopping rubber in the nets. --- At least that's supposed to be the idea.

(...An see your dentist twice a week.)

2. The mug automatically goes to the guy with the least goals against.... ...NO TRUE CRITERION! (And it gives me great pleasure..) (Aw, I don't deserve it*)

* Probably not!

3. Some myopic, rheumatic, gunshy gent could conceivably tend his net behind a stonewall...while another goalie could have a sieve in front of him and never get a look-in... (Get it!) (Here he comes, goalie!) (Get in front of it!) (Stop it!).

4. A case in question is Ranger goalie CHUCK RAYNER...We have (Rangers manager) Frank Boucher's slightly prejudiced word to back up our jaundiced eye.

There is no better puck stopper in the league. Charlie my boy has saved everything but a place on the Cup for his name.

Personal Note: The World-Telegram was Scripps-Howard's flagship afternoon daily and my father's favorite newspaper. Hence, Mullin's work soon was transferred to my 1946-47 scrapbook which also included stories from other papers including the Toronto Globe and Mail and New York Daily News.

(Postscript: Despite a valiant effort, Chuck Rayner's Rangers finished in fifth place, missing the NHL playoffs for the fifth straight year.)



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