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The Clown Prince of Hockey
Jean Baptiste Pusie, born in Montreal in 1910, was one of the most colorful players of his time, on the ice or off. The
6-foot, 200 pound defenseman turned pro in the IHL in 1929-30 and clowned and brawled his way onto and off
17 teams, sometimes more than once, over the course of his 17-year pro career. Part of one season
- 1936/37- he played for the Reds.
Pusie was not a gifted player. A poor skater, he never learned to carry the puck without keeping his eyes on it at all times. His NHL career amounted to 61 games that saw him amass a goal and four assists. But his entertaining antics had no limits.
Spending most of his career in the minor leagues, Pusie once caught an orange thrown at him during a game, removed his gloves, peeled and ate it. On another occasion he consumed an even dozen oranges between periods and was unable to continue playing.
His specialty was chaos and mayhem. Pusie would run at opponents and, once impact was inevitable, launch himself into the air, in order to both maximize the damage and whip up the spectators. He was also known to jump into the stands to confront critical fans.
On one occasion, he scored a goal with an uncharacteristically strong shot that tore the glove off the goaltender's hand. Pusie dived past the startled net minder, recovered the glove and, with a bow and a flourish, presented it to its rightful owner.
With the Reds in 1936-37, he continued his clowning around. One night he endeared himself to Providence fans at the Auditorium when the New Haven Eagles went on a sit-down strike for their back wages. Pusie picked up a newspaper, skated to center ice, sat in the middle of the Eagles? pow wow, and read the comic section as the fans roared.
Legend has it that this never-to-be-forgotten journeyman became involved in a 1936 Christmas Night battle. His rival, completely outmatched, suddenly exited the ice, ran over the players? bench, down the corridor (skates on), through the main lobby, out the front entrance and across North Main Street to the North Burial Ground.
Pusie, also wearing his skates, followed in hot pursuit.
Folks say that Pusie was the only one to return ? but he needed his blades sharpened for the third period.
When an opposing player fled rather than fight, Jean Baptiste
Pusie pursued him off the ice, down the corridor, out the Arena
entrance and across Main Street.