Rangers goalie Gump Worsley and coach Phil Watson had more arguments and
threw more insults than you could imagine. The two of them could not stand each
other. To quote the Gumper, "That little bastard made me so mad, I was
ready to choke him."
Worsley was Watson's favorite whipping boy. He constantly badgered him about
everything from his work ethic to his waistline. One year, the Rangers and
Blackhawks played exhibition games in Europe. Before a game in France, Watson
told reporters, "That Worsley's drunk so much wine, when he stops the puck
with his belly pad tonight, the burgundy's going to spurt right out his
On another occasion following a game that Worsley gave up a pair of soft
goals, Watson said, "You can't play goal in the NHL with a big beer belly
getting in your way." Worsley responded with, "You tell Watson I don't
drink beer. I've always been a VO drinker."
Worsley established himself as a drinker in training camp in 1952-53. And
Watson was responsible for it.
Watson challenged the then rookie Worsley to a contest. "You think
you're a hotshot drinker. I can drink you under the table any day." He
called for a bottle and some glasses. The coach and the rookie, with the rest of
the players forming a cheering section, faced off across the table. The glasses
were filled and emptied, filled and emptied again. Another bottle replaced the
first and the contest continued.
Finally, Watson's eyes turned glassy. He slumped back into his chair, and
almost slid to the floor. Worsley belched, lurched to his feet, and received a
chorus of cheers from his teammates.
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