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Rare 1963 tape of JFK furious over 17-2 hockey wipeout


John F. Kennedy was unimpressed with the U.S. showing at the world amateur hockey championship in 1963. (AP File Photo)

Cold warrior John F. Kennedy had the weight of the world on his shoulders in 1963. Yet amid the fear of nuclear winter, the president still found time to go ballistic over an historic defeat of the U.S. national hockey team.

We stumbled upon the old White House tape of JFK's fury by accident today while researching another story and it's just too fascinating not to share.

After getting word of the 17-2 shellacking by the Swedes at the world amateur championships in Stockholm, Kennedy rings up White House aide David Hackett, Kennedy's point man on Juvenile Delinquincy and Youth Crime, demanding answers.

"Christ, who are we sending over there? Girls?," Kennedy asks. "God, we've got some pretty good hockey players, haven't we?

"I think it's a disgrace to have a team 17-2. That's about as bad as I've ever heard ... we shouldn't send a team unless we send a good one. Will you find out about it and let me know?"

And don't get all cocky. The Canadians didn't have a stellar showing either, finishing fourth behind the first-place Swedish team. H/T to @tomhawthorn for locating this 1963 press account of the U.S. defeat.

Mitch Potter is the Toronto Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites


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Edit ... edit ... edit the story: steller showing? From a Washington Bureau Chief.

Hi Mitch,

The word "steller" (in the second sentence of the last paragraph) has been misspelled. Spellcheck let you down, badly. It should be "stellar".

Where is the part where JFK gets furious? I can hear that he was a bit upset and embarrassed but not furious.

He really doesn't sound furious at all, just a little concerned.

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