The current state of affairs with the Chicago Blackhawks leaves many of us in the fan base with the need for a little levity these days. I’ll make my contribution by sharing a story involving a classic Pat Foley rant in this week’s edition of the Former Blackhawk of the Week: Josef Marha.
Born in 1976 in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, Marha was a second-round pick of the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Draft. Quebec’s franchise moved to Colorado before Marha made his NHL debut by the 1995-96 season, but Marha only played 19 games over the next three seasons before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on March 24, 1998. Ten months later, he was dealt to the bottom-feeding Blackhawks for a fourth-round pick in the 1999 NHL Draft. He appeared in 81 games for the 1999-00 Blackhawks, scoring 10 goals with 12 assists as a minus-10 player.
By the next season, Marha was primarily an AHL player and in the summer of 2001, he signed with HC Davos of the Swiss league, where he spent the next 12 seasons. Marha’s Wikipedia page claims he was commonly referred to as the “Captain of the Fourth Line.” I don’t believe that’s actually true, but it also doesn’t seem wrong.
But the reason we’re all gathered here is because of a Pat Foley rant involving Marha was during the first period of a game against the St. Louis Blues, who were then coached by some guy named ... Joel Quenneville? Never heard of him (Thanks to SCH commenter MushMarch for pointing this out).
November 27, 1999
St. Louis defenseman Al MacInnis, a 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, had one of the most terrifying slap shots (and perhaps the most) in NHL history. It gave goalies nightmares. It regularly won the NHL’s annual fastest shot competition. It once broke boards. It was at its most lethal on the power play, when MacInnis could find the space to really lean into it.
In the first period of this game around Thanksgiving in 1999, Marha took an interference penalty that gave St. Louis an early power play. Ninety seconds later, MacInnis found some room and blasted a slapper that went right through Chicago goalie Jocelyn Thibault and into the Hawks’ net. I use the words “right through” because the puck hit Thibault in the ring finger of his glove hand — and broke it. You can see the offending slap shot and Thibault’s reaction at the 0:53 mark of the following clip:
Thibault would miss the next two weeks because of the injury, with Marc Lamothe relieving him in this game and Steve Passmore also spending time in net during Thibault’s absence.
The clip above cuts away as Thibault skates to the bench with his hand wrapped in a towel to stop the blood that’s started flowing from his broken finger. And this is when Blackhawks play-by-play announcer Pat Foley’s anger boiled over (Author’s note: I’ve scoured the Internet searching for the audio of this, but have had no luck. I assure you, dear, reader, that this all happened). As he started talking about the apparent injury Thibault had just suffered — a major blow to the goalie who was supposed to be Chicago’s No. 1 for a decade — Foley fixed his sights on Marha. As the forward skated toward the bench from the penalty box, Foley’s anger reached its crescendo as he growled:
“AND ALL OF THIS BECAUSE OF A SELFISH PENALTY FROM A PLAYER WITH FOUR POINTS THIS SEASON!”
Chicago lost the game 8-3.