A look back at the Evel Knievel and hockey connection

Photo credit: history.com

This Zamboni Time Machine flashback takes a look at how the world famous stuntman was connected to the sport of hockey.

Robert Knievel, or “Evel” Knievel as he is better known as, is world renowned for his death-defying motorcycle stunts. Before attempting to jump the Snake River Canyon, Knievel tried to make his living in professional hockey. He tried out for the Charlotte Clippers in the old Eastern Hockey League, but decided he did not want to play for the Clippers when he found out how much bus travel was involved.

Undaunted, in 1959 he returned to his hometown of Butte, Montana and founded the Butte Bombers – a semi-pro hockey team that he owned, managed, and played for. The Bombers claim to fame was exhibition game that Knievel scheduled against the Czechoslovakian National Team on their way to Squaw Valley, California for 1960 Winter Olympic Games. Evel managed to get thrown out of the game in the third period, and afterwards when it was time for the Czechs to get paid for the game, the ticket money had mysteriously been stolen. Many suspected Knievel was the thief, but it couldn’t be proven – so the US Olympic Committee had to cover the fee.

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Knievel’s involvement in hockey does not end there. In 1974, he was brought in for a promotional appearance with the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association. The promotion was that between periods of a the Toros game, Knievel was to take five penalty shots on the Toros backup goalie wearing his famous red, white, and blue stunt costume and cape. For every goal he scored, Knievel would win $5,000.

The Toros owner really did not want to lose what could be $25,000 to the famous stuntman, so he had a couple of players take Knievel out for an all night drinking binge the night before the game. The players did their best, and they did stay out all night, but Evel could drink with the best of them. The night of the game, Evel Knievel scored on three of the five penalty shots wearing his cape and costume, and left Toronto with $15,000 in his pocket.

Subscribe to “Martys Illegal Stick” on all major podcast platforms for the podcast version of The Zamboni Time Machine, as well as Into the Boards Fantasy Hockey Podcast. All episodes are also available at https://martysillegalstick.com. The Zamboni name is used with permission.

The podcast version of this article.

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