The Pride of Chambly Basin
When amateur hockey began to grow in Rhode Island in the 1930's some Providence Reds players coached and officiated games. By far the most colorful Reds player at the time was Jean Baptiste "Le Grand" Pusie from Chambly Basin in Montreal, Quebec. Pusie spent most of his career in the minor leagues where he was a joy to his fans and despair to his employers. He played in the NHL with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins before being farmed out by the Montreal Canadiens to Providence in the 1936-37 season. During his stay in Providence, he coached the Notre Dame Club in the Northern Division of the Inter-City Amateur Hockey League at the R.I. Auditorium. Jean (I am) Pusie brought his tempestuousness and eccentricity behind the bench leading the team to the finals of the league playoffs.
Pusie's stay in Providence was short-lived but not without theatrics. On December 29, 1936 against the Springfield Indians, he slugged referee Billy Coutu. He was fined $100 and suspended two games by the league. Pusie was upset the Reds wouldn't pay the fine so he left for home in Montreal. He would return to the Reds in early February and learned that his pay had been docked $25 by Reds President Jean Dubuc for part payment of the incident. His favorite act though was climbing over the boards to joust with any load-mouthed fan who was heckling him. On one wild night in Providence, Pusie vaulted the boards and chased a heckler on skates through the lobby and into the street. On returning he gave a magnificent show of complete exhaustion as he clumped along the floor and collapsed on the team's bench to the crowd's amazement.
The spectacle of "Le Grande" Pusie preparing to take a penalty shot was a treasure. He would stand at center ice and demand complete silence from the crowd. Then, very solemnly, he would skate to the rival goalie. Pusie would take off his glove and extend his hand to the startled goalie. 'I hate to do this to you, mon vieux," Pusie would say to the goalie, "but I must warn you, this shot may kill you." He would continue to play several more seasons gaining more suspensions in the minor leagues and, always willing to challenge anybody anytime, became a professional boxer and wrestler, often returning to Providence to the adulation of fans.