This is Wally Sprange, who starred for the Nashville Dixie Flyers in the 1960s. Notice the uniform, which replaced a yellow one I’ve posted before (Florent Pilote) and I think this one looks rather nice.
The Dixie Flyers interest me on several levels: there is little poetry in hockey (unlike baseball which is rife with it), but the name “Dixie Flyers” is as charming as “Wheeling Nailers” or “Lowell Lock Monsters” which are names for minor league teams that came along later.
The Eastern League was no pansy league, and men like Sprange truly had to love the game. Several accounts of the Dixie Flyers have them going from game to game (long distances mind you) in SCHOOL buses that were in questionable repair before the trip. If you’ve seen Slap Shot then other legendary anecdotes of minor league hockey from that era are known to you.
The Nashville Dixie Flyers and teams from the old Eastern and International Leagues have all kinds of wonderful stories surrounding them. You can sometimes find a website devoted to these men and their long forgotten fans.
I like to think of the Nashville Predators as the payback for these men and the people in the stands. Hockey came to them in the 1960s and it was bona fide with the arrival of the Predators in Nashville.
I hope the NHL stays in Nashville.
I think the Oilers win tonight. Not a breakout victory, not a 6-1 score, but a hard fought 4-2 battle that features a team hungry to play a full 60 minutes. There are some good signs on this roster:
- The blue looks stronger. Staios leaving the team on the road trip seems to have been forgotten but one shift from him tells a story and the calm feet are back at least for a shift every three when Staios is in the lineup. I should also mention that Souray had a quality game the other night, he looked like a calm veteran and turned away several rushes with great ease while also battling hard. Ladislav Smid looked as good as he has this season too, and although Jason Strudwick is injured it looks like the 6D that are healthy got some real traction in the last game.
- The goaltending is deep enough for MacT to send Garon to the bench again tonight should he choose to do so. A veteran like Roloson would probably consider a second straight start tonight to be a genuine opportunity to get his job back and that can only mean good things for the Oilers.
- The Oilers have a lot of veterans. Roloson, Garon, Souray, Visnovsky, Staios, Horcoff, Hemsky, Moreau, Pisani and Cole (that’s 10) as well as a talented young group in Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Pouliot, Brodziak and Smid (that’s 8) who have played at least one full season. The game is slowing down enough for these young men to have real impact in games.
- Inserting Bobby Nilsson onto the top line looked good in spurts and Erik Cole appears to have gotten his way and will play RW moving forward. The forward group has too much talent to be overwhelmed at EVs night after night and there’s so much offensive talent on this roster it’s my opinion the PP will catch a fire very soon.
As soon as tonight.