The Pot Hole News recently caught wind of a famous Saskatchewan legend that the famous Albert Einstein played hockey in Canwood, Saskatchewan during his formative years as a physicist in the 1930s. As The Pot Hole is committed to reporting hard-hitting news to the people of this first-class province, we sent a reporter to Canwood to see what he could find.
The legend goes that Albert Einstein allegedly moved to Canwood during the mid-1930s to refine his theory of relativity in the seclusion of a rural Saskatchewan community. While he was there, he played goaltender for the local hockey team, the Canwood Canucks. During our search, The Pot Hole could not find any living eyewitnesses that could have corroborated the rumour. However, Shelby Drake (38) gave reporters a copy of her late grandfather’s well-documented journal. Her grandfather, Gilbert “Red” Drake, was the manager/coach/captain/starting defenseman of the Canucks during the year of 1936, around the time when Einstein allegedly strapped on the pads. This is the first entry that mentions Einstein’s goaltending career in Canwood:
November 12th, 1936:
We have a new recruit on our team, a fella by the name of Einstein. The Fritz can barely stand on skates and seems to be a bit of a sop. But he did have that one thing that no one else on the team had – pads to tend the net, so he was in. We had our first practice of the year today and he only stopped one shot, which is fine because he says he hasn’t played since he was a child. The kid is a little dull but he’s plucky, he’ll improve as the season continues. This is going be our season.
Shelby says her grandfather would often tell her stories about the renowned theoretical physicist guarding the twine. “He would end every story about him the same way. He would shake his head, pack his pipe, and go, ‘He couldn’t stop molasses in January.’ Shelby recalls a story she once heard about how the Canucks lost a regular-season game by 9 goals to the Debden Danglers. “If you score 22 goals in a hockey game, there is no way in Hell that you should lose. But since Einstein was in net, we lost by 9. Jesus Christ, it was 31 to 22! It was like a football game. You know, after that game Einstein tried to off [sic] himself? He threw himself in front of a moving train, but the train went right between his legs!”
The only other time Einstein is mentioned in Red’s journal was midway through the season after a win against the Shellbrook Sheriffs.
January 28th, 1937:
If I knew anybody else that owned a set of fucking goal pads, I would have them play net for the Canucks. At this point, we might as well put a fucking pylon in. The trick to scoring on him is to just hit the net, he couldn’t stop a beach ball. We celebrated our first win of the season against the Shellbrook Sheriffs, with the final score being 25-24. Einstein had a lion’s share of the beer as if he didn’t just let in 24 fucking goals. Jesus Christ, he didn’t even chip, in. Our next game is in two weeks against the Spiritwood Flyers. I wonder if I can leave science-boy at home and convince them to play posts?
Records about Einstein’s tenure as Canwood’s goalie have been described as ambiguous, convoluted, and lacking concrete evidence. Many believe that the myth is exactly that – just an urban legend and nothing more. Ms. Drake begs to differ, citing an anecdote that her grandfather had told her a few months before his passing. According to Ms. Drake and her late grandfather, the German scientist had faded out of the collective memory of Saskatchewan senior hockey after one fateful game in 1937.
“You want to know what happened to him? Let me tell you. We had finally made it to the playoffs for the first time, ever. We were holding our own in the first series against the Rosthern Rangers, it was tied at 3-3 and the final game was on their home ice. That frickin’ Einstein completely blew it for us. They were shutout and won the game 0 – 14. We took a harder thrashing than an Irishman’s wife. The boys and I talked it through and decided that now was the time. We gave Einstein some money, told him not to beat himself up over the game, and to go to the bar to get the boys some beer. When he went out, the boys packed the bus and we left him there. I ain’t even ashamed of it, either. He wasn’t there to stop clappers, he was only there for free beer and a hamburger after the game.”