Wilf Cude

I had a great chuckle in reading this passage from Dick Irvin's book Now Back to You Dick: Two Lifetimes in Hockey. He was talking about a surprise his dad, famous coach Dick Irvin Sr., had one night behind the bench of the Montreal Canadiens.

"His goalie that game was Wilf Cude, a bouncy little guy who had been in and out of Canadiens' net for a few years. The game in Chicago was a wide open affair. With less than a minute to play, Elmer Lach scored to give Montreal a 6-5 lead. As the referee was dropping the puck to resume play following the goal, Dad glanced toward the Canadiens' net. It was empty...

"'Where the hell is Cude?' he bellowed. Then he saw him. Cude, an excitable type, had skated to the end of the Canadiens' bench and was hugging Lach and congratulating him for scoring the goal.

"'The game's on!" Dad hollered, and everyone else on the bench picked up the refrain. Cude, realizing the error of his ways, frantically raced ack to his goal crease, arriving just in time to stop a shot that would have tied the game."

Oh that crazy Cude. The Welsh-born, Winnipeg raised Cude was one of the smallest players in NHL history. He stood at 5'9" and has been listed as little as 130lbs. He was a utility goalie if there ever was one, always filling in for which ever team needed a goalie due to injury.

Cude had brushes with brilliance in his 10 year career. In 282 contests played with 5 different teams, he posted 100 wins, 132 losses and 49 ties, with 24 shutouts and a career 2.72 GAA.

He got his start in the NHL with the lowly and long extinct Philadelphia Quakers, one of the worst teams in league history. His rookie season was far more reflective on his team than him, as he posted a 2-25-3 record.

Cude bounced around after that, finally landing as Montreal's goalie for 4 seasons beginning in 1934. He even twice was named to the NHL second all star team.

Cude began losing his position as Montreal's starting goalie in 1938. He would hang around until 1940, when he finally had had enough.

The story of how Cude decided to retire is rather quirky in itself.

Cude was said to be sitting at a post-game dinner with his wife, "his nerves more raw than his steak." He picked up the meat and flung it across the room, plastering it to a wall.

Legend has it that the goalie said, "If the steak comes down, I’m through."

Cude was an ex-goalie an instant later when a slab of sirloin hit the floor.


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