No doubt you’re familiar with Charles M. Schulz as the creator of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and all of their semi-dysfunctional pals. What you may not know is that Schulz is also a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. No, he wasn’t a Star or a Blackhawk or a Bruin, but the cartoonist did make some important contributions to the American sport of ice hockey.
Growing up in Minnesota, Schulz was naturally drawn to cold weather sports. Not only did he spend his childhood playing hockey—he even convinced his dad to make a rink in the backyard—his kids also played, and many a Peanuts comic strip featured Woodstock driving a zamboni or playing defense against Snoopy.
After moving to California in 1958, Schulz lamented the loss of his beloved ice hockey. There was only one arena in his county, and it closed in the late ‘60s. “Because of Snoopy's hockey playing, I have to keep in the game,” Schulz stated, and promptly built an arena in 1969. He loved the Swiss Alpine-themed arena so much, it’s said that he had both breakfast and lunch every day at its Warm Puppy Snack Bar. He also played a pickup game with his sons every Tuesday night. In 1975, Schulz decided to start a small tournament for older adults like himself to continue to enjoy their love of the game. What started as a dozen teams is now the biggest senior tournament in the world—and if you think it’s a bunch of frail, rickety guys feebly tottering around on the ice, think again. With ex-NHL players among their ranks, these seniors are not scared of breaking hips. As of last summer, the oldest participant was 91 years old. Good grief!